With Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations coming up soon, I decided to take a classic profiterole recipe and add some Irish (alcohol) ingredients to make ordinary cream puffs a little more interesting and festive. I would test the limits of Irish cream with whiskey! You’ll get in the spirit (no pun intended) with my Irish coffee profiteroles with chocolate whiskey sauce recipe. Now before you continue any further, please remember to eat these tasty desserts responsibly. Enjoy!
Pâte à choux is what I consider the “mother” dough of pastries. The dough is extremely versatile and can be used to make some of the most adored pastries around the world.
Pâte à choux can be baked, poached or fried to create various kinds of decadent pastries. Luscious cream puffs, custard filled and chocolate laden éclairs, paris-breast made to look like bicycle wheels, a pyramid of small custard filled puffs for croquembouche, beignets are just a few. One of my personal favorites however is cinnamon and sugar coated churros. All of these delectable pastries start from pâte à choux paste.
The crisp golden brown hollow puffs are filled with a light and silky cream that is flavored with a hint of Irish Cream liquor and coffee.
To make the dessert even more irresistible, the cream puffs are dipped then drizzled with a chocolate whiskey ganache sauce. I adapted the base for this chocolate sauce recipe from Florida’s pastry chef extraordinaire Hedy Goldsmith’s decadent cookbook, Baking Out Loud: Fun Desserts with Big Flavors. If you love childhood desserts, Hedy adds her whimsical spin to her enticing recipes. I adjusted to few ingredients for this recipe to incorporate the whiskey and accommodate the ingredients I had on hand. The flavor of the sauce was rich and intense, also perfect for drizzling and creating designs!
I couldn’t help but make a smooth and creamy coffee crème anglaise custard sauce to enhance the flavors in the filling. To create the chocolate pattern, I placed the sauce in a squeeze bottle and carefully created 5-6 horizontal lines across the coffee creme. Then used a tooth pick to vertically drag down or up the chocolate stripes to create the design. Profiteroles are best when they are assembled and eaten right away! Your guests will be sure to drool when they see you drizzle the chocolate whiskey ganache sauce over these heavenly cream filled puffs. For a complete Irish feast, try my Irish soda bread recipe and baked honey mustard corned beef!
TIP#1- In order to achieve the characteristic hollow “puff” of the profiterole interior, eggs and steam are the two leavening agents. Large air pockets are created in the interior of the pastry by baking the paste at very high temperatures above 400 degrees Fahrenheit. This allows the water in the dough to quickly activate into steam before the exterior of the dough sets. The eggs and other proteins in the dough will eventually coagulate (set) and hold its round shape.
TIP#2- The profiterole baking process requires going from very high temps, to incrementally decreasing the temperature over time. This allows the dough to properly rise, set into shape, then dry out without burning. The end product should be light in weight and have a slightly crisp golden exterior. Try your best not to constantly open the oven door! If too much heat escapes at the beginning of the baking process when the profiteroles are just rising, they will deflate if they haven’t set. This unfortunately can’t be fixed. Patience and attention is key!
- 8 ounces water
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 3 ¾ ounces of unsalted butter
- 4 ounces all-purpose flour
- 2 to 4 eggs
- 16 ounces half-and-half
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 6 egg yolks
- 5 ounces granulated sugar (10 tablespoons)
- 2 teaspoons instant coffee
- 4 teaspoons Irish Cream (Bailey’s or Carolans)
- 16 ounces heavy whipping cream, chilled
- 1.5 ounces powdered sugar (5 tablespoons)
- ½ teaspoons instant coffee dissolved in ½ teaspoon hot water
- 4 tablespoons Irish Cream (Bailey’s or Carolans)
- 1 cup heavy cream
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- pinch kosher salt
- 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate (at least 60%)
- 1 tablespoon Irish whiskey (Jameson, Bushmills, or your favorite; add more to your liking)
- Preheat the oven t 425°F.
- Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Have a pastry bag with a large plain tip ready; you can lightly spray the inside of the pastry bag with vegetable cooking spray to help keep the sticky pâte à choux paste from clinging the inside of the bag.
- Place the water, salt, sugar and butter in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Stir the mixture until the butter is fully melted.
- Turn off the heat and immediately add the flour. Vigorously stir the dough with a spoon by hand. Turn on the heat to medium and continue stirring the bough until it comes away from the sides of the pan. The dough should look relatively dry and should just begin to leave a film on the sauce pan.
- Transfer the dough to a bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle, slowly stir and allow it to cool briefly to about 130°F or below to prevent the eggs from curdling when added.
- Begin beating in the eggs one at a time, until each egg is fully incorporated. Continue to add the eggs one by one until the mixture is shiny but firm. It may not be necessary to add all of the eggs; too many will create a runny dough. The dough should pull away from the sides of the bowl in thick threads; it will not clear the bowl. The dough should not be runny; it should be easy to control when piped and hold it’s shape.
- Add a workable amount of dough into the pastry bag and pipe onto the sheet pan, creating a 1.5 inch circular ball of dough. Dip your finger in water and flatten any “tails” left on the ball when piping to create a smoother surface. Pipe the balls 2 inches apart from each other; they will expand to about 2 inches after baking.
- Bake as follows to create a dry and hollow cream puff shell: Bake for 10 minutes at each temperature setting; 425°F > 375°F > 325°F > 275°F > 225°F > 200°F. Open the oven door as little as possible to prevent rapid changes in the oven’s temperature.
- Break open a pastry to ensure that baking is complete; you want the pastry to be as dry as possible on the inside. If needed, continue to bake the pâte à choux at 200°F until dry in the center; they should feel light in weight when you pick them up. (Note: This baking method will work the best if you bake one tray at a time.)
- Cool completely and reserve until ready to fill.
- The pâte à choux can be frozen or stored at room temperature for 3 days.
- Once filled, the cream puffs should be served the same day, as they will get soggy from the filling.
- In a heavy nonreactive saucepan, bring the half-and-half and vanilla just to a boil.
- Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together in a mixing bowl. Temper the egg mixture with approximately one-third of the hot half-and-half, then return the entire mixture to the saucepan with the remaining half-and-half.
- Cook the sauce over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Do not allow the sauce to boil.
- As soon as the sauce thickens, remove it from the heat. Add the instant coffee and Irish cream to the sauce, and stir until fully incorporated. Taste the sauce and adjust the coffee and Irish cream to your liking.
- Pour the sauce through a fine mesh strainer into a clean bowl. Chill the sauce over an ice bath, then cover and keep refrigerated.
- The sauce should last 3 to 4 days.
- Place cream in a chilled mixing bowl, using a balloon whisk, whisk until the cream is slightly thickened.
- Add the sugar, Irish cream and dissolved coffee to the mixer, and continue whisking until smooth medium-stiff peaks are formed, being carefully not to over mix. The cream should be smooth and light, not grainy.
- The whipped cream may be stored in the refrigerator for a few hours. If the cream begins to soften, gently rewhip if necessary.
- Add the cream to a piping bag fitted with a large star tip. You can use a large ziplock bag a cut a small opening in the corner to pipe if you do not have a piping bag.
- In a medium saucepan combine the heavy cream, vanilla and salt. Heat the cream over medium heat until just boiling, about 2 minutes.
- Remove the pan from the heat, add the chocolate and whiskey, and whisk until smooth.
- Use immediately, or set aside to cool completely, cover, and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.
- To serve, reheat gently over simmering water.
- Cut the profiterole shell in half. Fill the bottom the shell with the whipped cream. Dip the top of the shell in the chocolate, then place on top of the filled shell.
- To Plate: Add two tablespoons of the coffee crème anglaise to the center of a small serving plate. Place the filled cream puff on top of the coffee crème. Top with more chocolate sauce, or serve with ice cream. Enjoy!