I don't know why I got it in my head that I wanted to make profiteroles for Christmas; they are in reality a dessert I have enjoyed with varying frequency. Sometimes they can be too soft, lending little to no contrast to the ice cream within. On the other hand, I find hard profiteroles to be the absolute worst: hacking away at a tough shell, and watching your perfect scoop of ice cream shoot out the side is beyond frustrating. I always feel like pastry chefs should know better than to send out a crunchy profiterole.
However, when done well, profiteroles can be delicious and very elegant. So I decided to give them a go.
First I was going to use the detailed recipe from Baking Illustrated. But then I found Ina Garten's recipe which seemed even easier, and the lazy side of me (which is rather dominant, you may have noticed), won out.
Well, friends, this is probably not news to you, but profiteroles are ridiculously easy. I'd made pate a choux dough before, for gougeres, so I knew that in theory it shouldn't be difficult. But what a relief to find that profiteroles are even simpler than gougeres--no grating of cheese or chopping of herbs. Just butter, milk, flour, salt, and eggs. The dough takes 10 minutes.
In lieu of a pastry bag I used a ziploc with the corner snipped off, and it worked just fine to pipe the dough onto my baking sheet. I ended up with 20 puffs of medium size; in the future I'm going to make them smaller, because I like miniatures. I suppose you could also make several humongous puffs the size of hamburger buns.
I served the profiteroles with coffee and vanilla ice cream and good chocolate sauce. Of course, you could go the extra mile and make your own ice cream and sauce, but I like to keep things simple around the holidays. Really, this is the ideal dessert for entertaining: simple, quick, tasty, and while they look impressive, they require no skill or special equipment. Plus, you can make them ahead of time. In short, I suggest you ring in the new year with a batch of homemade profiteroles.