As I mentioned the other day, we hosted a Mother’s Day brunch on Sunday. One of the toughest decisions was what to serve for dessert. My criteria were that the dessert be fairly light and something I could make a day in advance. After a bit of consideration, I finally decided to make profiteroles. I’ve been wanting to make them forever but keep chickening out. I think it’s pretty common to fill the profiteroles with ice cream but I found a recipe from Giada that used mascarpone and ricotta in the filling and since I had leftovers of both in my fridge, I decided to give it a shot. I used a recipe for the pate a choux (the basis for the puffs) from my Baking Illustrated book because it included really specific instructions, which I knew I’d appreciate making the puffs for the first time.

I’m not sure why I waited so long to make these as they really weren’t very difficult. I had some issues with the piping (I think I should have piped them taller) so my puffs were sort of mini after they baked. I made the puffs and the filling on Saturday and then after brunch on Sunday I microwaved the Nutella and cream and assembled the profiteroles. So simple and pretty elegant I thought. These were really well received so I think they were a good choice. I liked the puffs a lot but next time I make them I’m definitely going with the ice cream filling – the cheese filling just isn’t my thing.

Profiteroles with Ricotta Mascarpone
from Baking Illustrated, by Cook’s Illustrated Magazine Editors and FoodNetwork.com

For the profiteroles:
2 large egg plus 1 large egg white
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 10 pieces
2 tablespoons whole milk
6 tablespoons water
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour, sifted

For the filling and topping:
3 tablespoons sugar
1 (8-ounce) container mascarpone cheese
3/4 cup ricotta cheese
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup chocolate-hazelnut spread (such as Nutella)
1/4 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup hazelnuts, toasted, husked, chopped

To make the profiteroles: Preheat oven to 425 F. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray and line with parchment paper

Beat the eggs and egg white in a measuring cup. You should have 1/2 cup of eggs.

Bring the butter, milk, water, sugar and salt to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat. When the mixture reaches a full boil, immediately remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the flour with a wooden spoon until combined and the mixture clears the sides of the pan. Return the saucepan to low heat and cook, stirring constantly and using a smearing motion, until the mixture is slightly shiny and tiny beads of fat appear on the bottom of the saucepan, about 3 minutes.

Immediately transfer the mixture to a food processor and process with the feed tube open for 10 seconds to cool slightly. With the machine running, gradually add the eggs in a steady stream. When all the eggs have been added, scrape down the sides of the bowl, then process for 30 seconds until a smooth, thick, sticky paste forms.

Transfer the paste to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain tip. Pipe the paste into 1 1/4 – 1 1/2-inch mounds on the prepared baking sheet, spacing them about 1 inch apart. You should be able to pipe about 24 mounds on the baking sheet. Use the back of a teaspoon dipped in a bowl of cold water to even out the shape and smooth the surface of the piped mounds.

Bake 15 minutes (do not open the door at all during this time), then reduce the oven temperature to 375 F and continue to bake until golden brown and fairly firm, 8 to 10 minutes longer. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and with a paring knife, cut a 3/4-inch slit into the side of each puff to release steam. Return the puffs to the oven, turn off the oven and prop open the door with the handle of a wooden spoon. Dry the puffs in the oven until the centers are just moist and the puffs are crispy, about 45 minutes. Transfer the puffs to a wire rack to cool.

(Note: The puffs can be stored at room temperature for one day or frozen for up to 1 month. Before serving, crisp room temperature puffs in a 300 F oven for 5 to 8 minutes and crisp frozen puffs for 8 to 10 minutes.)

To make the filling: Mix the mascarpone, ricotta, vanilla, and sugar in a medium bowl. Refrigerate until cold. Using a serrated knife, cut the tops off the pastry and set aside. Spoon the mascarpone mixture into the pastries and top each pastry with its lid.

To make the topping: Combine the chocolate-hazelnut spread and whipping cream in a small bowl. Heat in the microwave for about 30 seconds until warm. Stir the mixture. Spoon the chocolate-hazelnut sauce atop the pastries. Sprinkle with the hazelnuts and serve.