ice cream choux sandwich
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I first made choux pastry at the age of about 11, in my technology lesson at school. It was – what would now be considered absolutely model – a diverse curriculum that also included making a wooden box, an electric switch connected to a 5V battery, knitting a scarf and learning road signs. I know, some say it was not all bleak in the Eastern Bloc.
The diversity would now be applauded; everything else would not: we freely used screwdrivers and knives for chopping veg; had to boil water and bring cooking ingredients to class regardless of household income. And it was severely sexist: apart from the first couple of years, the curriculum segregated boys with their hammers and soldering irons from the girls’ sewing kits and baking tins.
I do not owe my cooking skills to my primary school teacher (and couldn’t embroider to save my life), but I don’t recall the profiteroles as a traumatic experience. Still, for one reason or another I never made the choux pastry again until the other week. And then it transpired how easy it is and how difficult to mess it up; no wonder they picked the recipe for kids to make – and who doesn’t love profiteroles filled with whipped cream?
It occurred to me that the pastry is also the ticket for ice cream sandwiches coming back into fashion, hooray. It’s quite similar to the wafers cones are made from; it’s sturdy-ish and won’t dissolve even in sticky little paws. Homemade ice cream is optional, but you MUST have sprinkles.
It’s bliss – but I must note that back at school I was far more sophisticated. As I recall, we filled our profiteroles with crème patissiere. Refined or what?
ice cream choux sandwichServings: about 2 dozen, depending on the sizeTime: about an hour
- 115g (1 stick) unsalted butter
- 250ml (1 cup) water
- 1 tsp salt
- 150g (1 cup) plain flour
- 1 tsp sugar
- 4 eggs
- ice cream of choice
- chocolate sprinkles, berry sauce, chopped pistachios (optional)
1. Place the butter, water and salt in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Stir the sugar into a bowl with flour.
2. When the water is boiling, pour the flour all at once into it, turn down the heat and stir energetically until the flour is absorbed and the dough forms a ball pulling away from the sides.
3. Take it off the heat and add the eggs, one by one, beating them in with a handheld mixer or simply a wooden spoon. The batter will end up smooth and glossy.
4. Transfer it into a piping bag, or just use two spoons to shape the pastries.
5. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/gas 6. Grease a baking tray lightly with butter.
6. Pipe the buns onto the tray in blobs about 3-4cm (1 ½ in) or bigger if you prefer. Smooth them out with fingers dipped in water, if necessary.
7. Bake for 30-35 minutes until golden brown. Leave them in switched off oven for another 5 minutes, to ensure they dry well. Transfer them onto a wire rack and pierce a couple of holes in the bottom of each bun to let out the steam. They can be stored in an airtight box for a couple of days or frozen for longer. Crisp them up, or defrost, in a warm oven for a few minutes.
8. To make up the ice cream sandwiches, slice the choux buns in half horizontally, fill the bottoms with a scoop of ice cream each, decorate with sprinkles or drizzle with sauce and cover with the lids. Serve immediately.