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The Problem With Ice-Cream Profiteroles


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Have you ever had a good profiterole filled with ice cream? I haven't. I think it may be an impossibility - an inherent tension between the pastry and the ice cream -- as I've had them at some very good restaurants and nobody has nailed it. Or have I just been unlucky?

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Yes, at my house. They are among the most requested of my desserts and I think they're delicious. Keys to success: (1) use good vanilla ice cream and let it soften a bit before filling/serving them and (2) use a really good chocolate sauce, served warm, and pass extra at the table.

What don't you like about the ice cream profiteroles that you've tried?


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Because the ice cream makes the pastry soggy. (Also, at a lot of places the pastry is dried out by the time they use it.)

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I can see how that happens when they're filled in advance. It doesn't happen to me if I fill them shortly before service. That may not be possible in a restaurant kitchen.


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I haven't done the ice cream in pastry thing in a long time (and I'm not claiming that mine were any better than anyone else's) but spraying the inside with a very thin layer of cocoa butter or chocolate highly thinned with cocoa butter (depending on the flavors going on) gives the sog monster a pretty good fight. It has to be really thin though or it can add an (in my opinion) unpleasant chewiness after being in contact with the ice cream. I decided the extra work isn't worth it for what you get so I just don't do them anymore.

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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The only way I've ever had good ones has been when I've made them at home...I think it's just too easy in a restaurant kitchen to prefill and store them in the freezer, which pretty much assures that the ice cream will be too hard and the pate a choux will be soggy.

If you ate pasta and antipasto, would you still be hungry? ~Author Unknown

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Have you ever had a good profiterole filled with ice cream? I haven't. I think it may be an impossibility - an inherent tension between the pastry and the ice cream -- as I've had them at some very good restaurants and nobody has nailed it. Or have I just been unlucky?

I guess we've both been unlucky. The profiteroles at Bouchon in Las Vegas, (which some rave about), fall into the C- category. The pastry is properly baked and is light yet has a delicate crunch. No problems there. Yet everytime I've ordered the profiteroles the ice cream has been hard as a rock, a texture that basically creates a cement ball that rolls out of the pastry. Then they drench the whole lot with hot chocolate sauce and the pastry gets soggy but the ice cream cement is still hard as a rock. I've had the dish more than a few times and always been disappointed.

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I guess they pre-scoop the ice cream and just keep it on a sheet pan or something in a freezer. Then, when an order comes in, they slice of the pastry and plop on a ball of ice cream fresh from the freezer. Do they do the chocolate sauce table side? I can't recall. I know they bring you some in a container.

Really, you would think a Thomas Keller place would do better. Surely there is a way to keep ice cream soft and scoopable but keep it from melting.

Jeff Meeker, aka "jsmeeker"

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i know there are store bought ice creams that are made to be soft and scoopable right out of the freezer, but that probably involves a lot of unsavory chemicals. And yet, I am sure that it is possible to do in a professional kitchen. surely there is a molecular gastronimist out there who has perfected room-temperature ice creams? :raz:

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I found an excellent and reliable recipe (CI's, from Feb. 2002), and was planning on making it this weekend, for a dinner party, as a matter of fact. But it's crucial to use the shells when they're fresh (or freeze them for later use, as soon as they're cooled), assemble the profiteroles just before serving, and make certain the ice cream is properly softened before scooping. This last can be hard to enforce, when you have a bunch of people hanging about, urging you to get on with it, but a selection from the knife block (the sharpening steel is both relatively safe and quite convincing, particularly after you've jabbed someone in the ribs with it) is helpful in clearing the kitchen so you can give the ice cream the time it needs to warm from -16C. If you need to dig at the ice cream, the poor shell doesn't stand a chance.

I'm not certain what the current attitude in restaurants is, towards profiteroles: is it regarded as a silly/dated dessert? It really does seem that even in places that do other desserts well, ice-cream profiteroles don't get much love, and even the quality of the ice cream leaves something to be desired.

Michaela, aka "Mjx"
Manager, eG Forums
mscioscia@egstaff.org

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To me they are one of those "vanilla ice-cream" sorts of desserts/pastries: very few ingredients which must be of excellent quality, preferably all freshly made in-house, where there is really nowhere to hide the flaws under "cutting-edge" flavors and treatments.

Shatteringly crisp choux, vanilla ice cream that has a softness to it - not "gently" thawed prior to scooping, and an unctuous, yet still fluid chocolate sauce.

To be at their best in a restaurant - and likely at home as well - they should, practically, if not literally, be prepared tableside for instant service.

Otherwise, the choux are soggy instead of crisp, the ice cream is soft to liquifying on the outside and hard on the inside, and the chocolate sauce appears to have been transformed into Bosco. It is a dessert that should definitely be prepared a la minute, and should only be undertaken by restaurants that understand the high-maintenance nature of this delection, and are willing to commit resources to its proper execution and timely delivery to the client. Otherwise, they should stick to bread puddings ...

Sharon Peters aka "theabroma"

The lunatics have overtaken the asylum

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I made a fresh banana gelato last week - it had a lovely texture and was wonderful in profiteroles with warm chocolate sauce drizzled over. I'd made the profiteroles a few days earlier and froze them, recrisping them in the oven just before filling and serving. There were no complaints!

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I had good ones at a restaurant once. The shells had clearly just come out of the the oven, the icecream was more of a gelato consistency, and the sauce came on the side in a pitcher to be poured at the crucial moment. Heaven.

The problem is, though, that particular occasion was the first time I had ever ordered that dish. Since then I keep ordering it at various places and it never fails to disappoint. I think I'll just give up and do it at home from now on. My freezer is a bit dicey so icecream usually errs on the soft side around these parts anyway :)

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