Vietnamese Espresso Profiteroles

By Life Pastry - September 28, 2020


Vietnamese Espresso Profiteroles

With Spicy Chocolate Ganache

Makes about 20 profiteroles

Profiteroles were one of the first “fancy” desserts I ever made before I became a professional pastry chef. I had a book on pastry fundamentals and I remember starting at page one with pâte à choux (cream puff dough). Choux means “cabbage” in French, and these little puffs look a bit like cabbages if you squint. (You have to squint a lot.) You can pipe pastry cream into the round puffs for bakery cream puffs, or fill them with ice cream and drizzle them with chocolate for the classic bistro dessert profiteroles. Here I jazz up the French tradition by whipping up a quick ice cream that tastes like the popular Vietnamese coffee drink made with sweetened condensed milk and strong espresso. The chocolate ganache drizzle echoes the Asian flavor of the ice cream with a hint of cayenne pepper. All the components can be made ahead of time (and in fact you must make the ice cream a day in advance to give it ample time to firm up) and assembled quickly right before serving, so it’s a terrific dessert option for a dinner party.

Vietnamese Espresso Ice Cream

½ cup/1 stick/115 grams unsalted butter

1 tablespoon sugar

½ teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup plus 1 tablespoon/150 grams all-purpose flour

4 large eggs (about 200 grams), at room temperature

Spicy Ganache, warmed


Make the ice cream and store it in the freezer until you’re ready to assemble the profiteroles.

Preheat the oven to 400°F and place racks in the center and bottom third of the oven. Butter two baking sheets or line them with parchment paper and set aside.

In a medium saucepan, heat the butter, sugar, salt, and 1 cup/240 grams water over medium heat until the butter is melted. Do not let the mixture come to a boil or the water will evaporate. Add the flour all at once and use a wooden spoon to stir the flour into the liquid until it is fully incorporated. The mixture will look like a stiff pancake batter. Keep stirring vigorously over medium heat and the mixture will slowly start to get stiffer and look more like loose dough and less like batter. It will lose its shine and become more matte as well. Stir continuously for 3 to 4 minutes, until the dough starts to leave a film on the bottom of the pan.

Remove the dough from the heat and place it in a stand mixer. Using a paddle attachment, mix the dough for 1 minute on medium-low speed. Alternatively, beat the dough in a bowl by hand with a wooden spoon for 2 to 3 minutes. (This will allow some of the steam to escape and the dough will cool slightly.)

Crack the eggs into a small pitcher or liquid measuring cup and whisk to break up the yolks. With the mixer on medium-low, gradually add the eggs to the dough. When the eggs are all added, turn the mixer up to medium and beat for about 20 seconds, until the dough is glossy and shiny and soft like gluey mashed potatoes.

Spoon the dough into a pastry bag fitted with a 1-inch round tip or cut the corner so that the hole is about 1 inch in diameter. Pipe out round puffs onto the prepared baking sheets about 2 inches in diameter, spacing the puffs a few inches away from each other.

Place the baking sheets in the oven, one on each rack. The heat of the oven will immediately start turning the liquid in the dough into steam and it will cause the puffs to inflate.

Bake for about 15 minutes, until the puffs have expanded and have started to turn golden brown, then turn the oven down to 325°F. Continue baking for another 20 to 30 minutes, rotating the baking sheets and switching their positions after 10 to 15 minutes, until the puffs are entirely golden brown like honey.

Remove from the oven and let cool completely on the baking sheets on a wire rack. (At this point the unfilled puffs can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month. Refresh in a 300°F oven for 3 to 4 minutes if at room temperature, 8 to 10 minutes if frozen, then let cool again before continuing.)

While the puffs are baking and cooling, make the ganache. If it has been refrigerated, melt it before using by placing it in a metal or heatproof glass bowl over a pot of simmering water and stirring until warm and melted.

If the ice cream is too hard to scoop, remove it from the freezer 10 minutes before assembling. Split the cooled puffs in half horizontally. Using a ½-cup measure or ½-cup ice cream scoop, place a large scoop of ice cream on the bottom half of each puff. Top with the top half and drizzle about 1 tablespoon of the warm ganache on top. Serve immediately.


Vietnamese Espresso Ice Cream

Makes about 2 quarts

2 tablespoons instant espresso powder

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

½ teaspoon kosher salt

2½ cups/600 grams heavy cream

One 14-ounce/400-gram can sweetened condensed milk


In a small bowl, whisk together the espresso powder, vanilla, salt, and 2 tablespoons warm water until the espresso powder is dissolved. Stir the espresso mixture into the cream in a large bowl and whip by hand with a whisk or with a handheld electric mixer, or in a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, until it thickens to soft peaks (i.e., it holds a soft peak when you lift a spoon out of the mixture). Pour in the sweetened condensed milk and whip until the ice cream base is thoroughly combined and again at soft peak stage. It will be billowing and mound gently on a spoon when you dip into it. Gently transfer the base to an airtight container and freeze until solid, at least 8 hours.

The ice cream can be stored in an airtight con­tainer in the freezer for up to 1 month.

Spicy Ganache

Makes about 1½ cups

8 ounces/225 grams semisweet or bittersweet chocolate

1 cup/240 grams heavy cream

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper, or more to taste


Chop the chocolate and place it in a medium metal or heatproof glass bowl. Heat the cream in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until just before it comes to a boil, when small bubbles collect along the sides of the pan. Pour the cream over the chocolate and let stand for 30 seconds. Add the cayenne pepper. Slowly whisk everything together until the chocolate is completely melted and the ganache is smooth.

The ganache can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

With Mango-Lime Curd and Mango Snow

With Mango-Lime Curd and Mango Snow

Makes 6 servings

On a recent trip to Thailand, Christopher and I enjoyed the traditional Thai dessert of coconut sticky rice and mango at least once if not two or three times a day. I was so infatuated by it that some days it was my breakfast, my afternoon snack, and my after-dinner dessert. At the airport on our way back home I spent the last of my baht on—you guessed it—sticky rice and mango. Back in Boston I was determined to add this to our menu at Myers+Chang. Sticky or glutinous rice is translucent and chewy and highly addictive. The sticky rice pudding is simply sticky rice mixed into a slightly sweetened coconut milk custard; alongside we serve a tart tropical mango curd with juicy fresh mango folded in. Fluffy mango snow on top makes the dessert extra special.

Read through the recipe carefully: the sticky rice needs to soak overnight, and the mango ice needs to be made a day in advance. And then once you mix the rice with the coconut milk you need to serve it right away. Otherwise the rice continues to absorb the coconut over time and turns into a firm mass.

1½ cups/300 grams sweet glutinous rice (sometimes called Thai sticky rice or Thai sweet rice)

Mango Ice

Mango-Lime Curd

One 13.5- to 14-ounce/375- to 390-gram can full-fat coconut milk

¼ cup/50 grams sugar

½ teaspoon kosher salt

2 ripe Champagne mangos

1 teaspoon white sesame seeds, for garnish

1 teaspoon black sesame seeds, for garnish

Grated zest of 1 lime, for garnish


The day before serving, place the sticky rice in a bowl and add enough water to cover; set aside at room temperature to soak overnight. Make the mango ice.

At least 4 hours before serving, make the mango-lime curd.

If you have a rice cooker, drain the soaked rice and place it in the rice cooker, add 1½ cups/360 grams water, and turn the rice cooker on. When the rice is finished cooking, transfer it to a large bowl and let it cool to room temperature, about 1 hour.

If you’re not using a rice cooker, drain the soaked rice and place it in a large heatproof fine-mesh sieve that fits over a saucepan. Fill the saucepan with water, making sure it does not touch the bottom of the sieve when it is placed in the pan. Bring the water to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat so the water is at a gentle simmer. Cover the pan and let the rice steam for 20 minutes. Remove the lid and turn the rice over in the sieve with a large spoon or rubber spatula (it might be stuck together as one piece). Add more water to the pan if necessary and keep steaming the rice, covered, for another 20 minutes. Check the rice—it should be translucent and soft with no hard bits. If it is still hard, steam it for another 10 minutes, until it fully cooks. Turn off the heat and let the rice continue to steam, covered, for another 10 minutes. Transfer the rice to a large bowl and let it cool to room temperature.

While the rice is cooling, whisk together the coconut milk, sugar, and salt in another large bowl. When the rice has cooled to room temperature, add it to the coconut milk mixture. Stir the rice into the coconut milk with a fork and smush the rice around until it is fully mixed into the coconut milk.

Remove the mango ice from the freezer and let it sit at room temperature for about 10 minutes. Peel the mangos. Cut half into thin slices for garnish and set aside. Cut the rest into cubes of about ½ inch. Fold the mango cubes into the mango-lime curd. Divide the mango curd mixture among six ice cream bowls or medium cups. Divide the coconut sticky rice among the bowls, piling it on top of the mango mixture.

Use a spoon to scrape at the mango ice to make shavings. Keep scraping until all the ice is shaved into soft fluffy snow. If you have bits of ice that don’t scrape well, use the butt of a rolling pin or a wooden spoon to beat the ice so it smushes up. Divide the snow evenly among the bowls, covering the rice. Arrange the mango slices on top of the snow and sprinkle evenly with the white and black sesame seeds and the lime zest. Serve immediately.


Mango Ice

Makes 1½ cups

1 cup/200 grams mango puree

2 tablespoons sugar


In a shallow metal pan or plastic container, stir together the mango puree, ¼ cup/60 grams water, and the sugar until the sugar is dissolved. Cover the container and freeze for at least 6 hours or up to overnight, until solid.

Mango ice can be stored in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 1 month.


Mango-Lime Curd

Makes 1 cup

½ cup/100 grams mango puree

¼ cup/60 grams fresh lime juice (4 to 5 limes)

3 tablespoons/45 grams unsalted butter

¼ cup/50 grams sugar

2 large egg yolks (about 40 grams), at room temperature

⅛ teaspoon kosher salt


In a medium saucepan, heat the mango puree, lime juice, and butter over medium-high heat until the butter is melted and the mixture is almost at a boil. In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar and egg yolks. Remove the mango mixture from the heat and gradually whisk a few tablespoons of it into the egg yolk mixture to temper the eggs. Continue whisking the mango mixture into the egg yolk mixture a few tablespoons at a time until it is all incorporated.

Return the curd to the saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon and making sure to scrape the bottom of the saucepan frequently to prevent the egg yolks from scrambling, until the curd thickens and coats the spoon with a thick enough layer that you can draw your finger through it and it holds a line, 4 to 6 minutes.

Remove the curd from the heat and strain it through a fine-mesh sieve into a medium bowl or pitcher. Whisk in the salt. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly against the surface of the curd (to prevent a skin from forming), and let cool to room temperature. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours before using.

The curd can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.




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