The brisk morning air sent a memorable chill through me as I walked the dog on our morning jaunt. The sunshine dappled through the almost changing leaves and there was that sense of seasonal change in the breeze. Nostalgia grabbed a hold of me and my thoughts turned to Paris. I visited once in early October and today reminded me of that trip. My mind flooded with all the things I cherished in that city, but between you and me, I wanted to dislike it, because everyone loves Paris, but once there, how could I object to something so wonderful!?
I loved opening the door to our apartment each morning to find a cloth bag with two warm croissants dangling from the doorknob. Flakey, buttery and perfect on their own or better yet, with a slather of orange marmalade.
I came to love climbing stairs. Maybe not with my 25 pound suitcase, but the spiral wooden staircase of our fifth floor apartment grew on me as I got to know the well-worn steps and sturdy banister, not to mention the killer butt workout. Then there were the steps of Montmarte climbing from the magical carousel up to the quaint streets and antique markets above, it was here I spotted the pretty pink building La Maison Rose.
Stopping at a sidewalk bistro for a cafè or an aperitif and a chance to rest our weary feet made for the best people watching and a place of refuge when it decided to rain. I felt close to those iconic literary greats and jazz artists from 1920s Paris.
I laughed when I passed an old bookstore, its many novels spilling out onto the sidewalk and there it was, SATC (Sex and The City), if you’re familiar with Carrie Bradshaw, you’d understand the novelty of finding that book in Paris.
I was amazed by the old couture shops near Saint Denis where dressmakers could look at you, tell you your size… and they were right. The fashion felt svelte, and grown-up in a classy way, expertly made with practiced craftsmanship and good materials.
I also enjoyed the warm vivacity of the brassieres serving simple dishes that tasted so good. A nice Bordeaux to match and dinner became an event. My favorite was a quaint and intimate place called Le Golden Pat. It happened to be just below our apartment on Rue Mazagran and it was so good we ate dinner there two nights in a row.The menu is in French, the food is phenomenal, the tables are small and tightly packed together, it’s dimly lit, the kitchen is tiny and the chef drinks wine as she cooks. We had perfectly cooked steak, lamb chops, rabbit terrine, escargot and these profiteroles that never left my mind. They were puffy and filled with vanilla ice-cream and then drenched in a creamy hot chocolate sauce, definitely an unforgettable experience.
For tonight’s dinner, I wanted to go back to Paris, so I pulled out my trusty Julia Child cookbook and got to work. We ate poulet sautè au vinaigre, pommes frites and those dreamy profiteroles a la Golden Pat. I think I hit all the French feels with this one!
Makes about 20
Ingredients for the Pate a Choux (Profiteroles):
1 cup water
1 stick butter
1 teaspoon sugar
Pinch of salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Ingredients for the Chocolate Sauce:
1 tablespoon butter
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Ice cream or whipped cream to serve
For the pate a choux (profiteroles): Mix the water, butter, sugar and salt in a heavy bottomed saucepan and bring to a gentle boil over medium heat. Stir until all of the butter has melted and immediately add the flour and baking powder all at once. Vigorously mix until the dough pulls away from the sides of the pan and combines together forming a rough ball. Transfer the dough to the bowl. With a stand mixer, hand held mixer or whisk, mix the dough, adding one egg at at time. Mix each egg into the dough until combined. Once all of the eggs have been added the dough should appear to be a thick and glossy paste.
Heat the oven to 400 degrees F. and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Using a spoon, form about 20 ping pong sized balls onto the parchment-lined baking sheet and space them about 2 inches apart. The trick is to keep the balls as high and round as possible, the dough is quite sticky, so using two spoons, one to form the balls and the other to scrape the ball onto the parchment is helpful. Otherwise if you have a piping bag, this works great too. Bake for 10 minutes. Lower the heat to 350 degrees F. and continue to cook for 25 minutes. Do not open the oven door or remove the pans from the oven until the profiteroles are golden-brown and quite puffy. Let cool, slice the profiteroles almost in half and get ready to plate.
*When the chocolate sauce is ready, add ice cream or whipped cream to the middle of each profiterole
For the chocolate sauce:
Add the cream and butter into a small saucepan over medium heat. Heat until the sides begin to bubble, but don’t boil the cream! Remove from heat and mix in the chocolate chips and vanilla. Stir until the sauce is smooth. Serve hot, drizzled over ice cream or whipped cream filled profiteroles.
P.S. The unfilled, baked profiteroles freeze really well. To serve crisp them up in a hot oven after defrosting.