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Profiteroles with Vanilla Bean Pastry Cream #FoodieReads

I had been wondering what to do with some leftover pastry cream. A blogger friend joked, "I'm sorry I have to ask...what is leftover pastry cream?? I have never heard of this thing." I know, I know. It's a rarity, but my kids made pastry cream enough for an army. If you have been following me at all this week, you'll know that my second dose of the COVID vaccine sidelined me completely. I pretty much lounged in bed for three days. The upside: I got through several books.

On the Page

So, I had just read A Villa in Sicily: Olive Oil and Murder by Fiona Grace and thought I'd pick up another of her books. I breezed through Beachfront Bakery: A Killer Cupcake by Fiona Grace* and it hit me. I would make profiteroles and fill them with that leftover pastry cream. I'll get to that in a moment. Reading two cozy mysteries by Grace so close together, I can say: she has a formula. I won't be reading any more of her books, I don't think. But I enjoyed them for what they were.

In this case, a trained pastry chef named Ali Sweet - yes, really! - has been relegated to the crème brûlée station at an upscale Los Angeles restaurant. After losing her temper and "exploding a crème brûlée" all over a customer, she decides to pursue her dream of opening a French pastry shop and lands in a charming coastal town where she rents a shop virtually sight unseen. Make a change, the fortune teller on the boardwalk tell Ali. "'You must change the recipe,' Lavinia continued. 'You’ve done the same thing over and over again, with the same outcome over and over again. But change just one ingredient, and something you never expected may result.'"

Then a local troublemaker ends up dead after confronting Ali about stealing the shop's lease out from under him and Ali becomes the prime suspect. To clear herself she must uncover the real killer. Twists, turns, and even the mob abound in this quick quirky read.

On the Plate

While I considered making the lemon coconut cupcakes that launch her bakery, I was inspired by this passage instead. As she did the walk-through of her new shop, "She visualized the display fridge full of French pastries—madeleines, croissants, and profiteroles—and herself behind it, filling up a cardboard box for a customer."

Throughout the years, I have made a variety of sweet madeleines from Lavender-Lemon Madeleines to Pink Peppercorn Madeleines. and Mint Chocolate Madeleines (all photographed above).

And I've made countless batches of Sourdough Croissants during this shelter-in-place order. So, profiteroles it was.

Ingredients makes two dozen
Pâte à Choux
  • 12 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1-1/2 cup water
  • 2 cups flour
  • 9 eggs
Vanilla  Bean Pastry Cream
  • 500 ml whole milk
  • 1 vanilla pod, sliced lengthwise with seeds scraped
  • 3 eggs
  • 100 grams organic granulated sugar
  • 30 grams corn starch
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla bean paste or extract


Vanilla  Bean Pastry Cream
Place the milk and the vanilla bean and scraped seeds in a medium sauce pan and let stand for 20 minutes. Then scald the milk and let the vanilla steep in the milk for 10 minutes. In the meantime, in mixing bowl, blend the sugar and eggs until the mixture becomes fluffy and pale. Add the corn starch and whisk to combine.

Slowly pour the warmed milk into the egg mixture, whisking as you pour.  Whisk in the vanilla bean paste or extract. Place the saucepan back on the stove and bring to a boil. Whisking vigorously the whole time.  Once the mixture has thickened and just started to boil, remove from the heat. Keep whisking to keep it smooth.

Spread the pastry cream into a dish and cover with plastic wrap, touching the top to keep the cream from developing a film.  Refrigerate until cool.

Pâte à Choux
Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

Bring butter and water to a boil in a large saucepan. Remove pan from heat and add flour all at once. Stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until mixture forms a thick dough and pulls away from sides of pan, approximately 3 minutes. Return pan to heat and cook, stirring constantly, until dough is lightly dried, about 2 minutes more.

Transfer dough to a bowl, and let cool for 5 minutes; using a wooden spoon, beat in 9 eggs, one at a time, making sure each egg is completely incorporated before adding the next. Dough will come together and be thick, shiny, and smooth.

Use two spoons to scoop the dough onto a baking sheet. One to spoon and one to push the dough off the spoon. Place the balls at least 1-inch apart.

Bake at 425 degrees Fahrenheit until puffed and light brown, approximately 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees Fahrenheit , and continue to bake until well browned, approximately 15 minutes. Let cool. 

Place the puffs on a wire rack and pierce the top with a sharp knife to let out the steam. 

Place pastry cream into a piping bag. Pipe the cream into the hole that that you pierced to let out the steam, making sure that you don't have too much coming out of the pastry. If you have excess filling, gently wipe the pastry as clean as you can.

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Click to see what everyone else read in March 2021: here.


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