Another day, another birthday. No candles for me this time around (I'm not sure there are enough in Germany for this one). And true to how my birthdays have gone for the past, oh, 10 years or so it will be a solo one. It would seem that the U.S. military really has a thing for sending my hubby on trips mid-September. I can't remember the last birthday (or anniversary, which is tomorrow) that we spent together.
Please don't think I'm complaining. I'm not really. I used to mind it when I was younger and a bit more selfish. But these days a birthday doesn't have to be a big deal. A quiet, confrontation-less, easy day is just fine by me. A day when my boys don't bash each others heads into the ground when wrestling or throw handfuls of LEGOs at each other and meal times aren't a war of secession. That sounds like the best gift this mama can ask for. If my hubby is home, that just makes the day more sweet. I know he certainly wouldn't choose to be away on a special day- that's just his job and one that I am immensely proud of him for doing.
That does not mean the day goes by with no recognition at all. Even if it's just a sleepy "Happy Birthday" from my boys as they roll out of bed, a text from their dad first thing in the morning, the sun breaking through the clouds for a bright crisp morning and a visit by a friend for tea and good conversation. Oh, and there must be a few sweet nibbles. Because I'm that kind of girl.
These sweet treats are courtesy of David Lebovitz's book The Sweet Life in Paris. I picked it up at the Army's garrison library, where my boys and I have taken up residence several times a week looking for entertainment that isn't in German. You mean we can borrow movies and books and video games that will make everyone a little bit happier? Yes please! And the books sometimes come with recipes? Bonus! Thank you Mr. Lebovitz for my birthday treats-these are easy and quick and taste sooooo good. Can a girl ask for anything more for her
37th birthday sweet 16?
Makes about 2 dozen puffs. From The Sweet Life in Paris by David Lebovitz.
For the printable recipe, click here.
This really is just a simple cream puff without the cream. I grew up on my Nana's, so it's not a stretch to imagine that I would love these. But the dark chocolate and the pearl sugar really do take the profiteroles from ordinary to spectacular. The dark chocolate chips are easier and easier to come by in the grocery stores these days, but if can't find them grab your favorite dark chocolate bar and get chopping. Simply chop enough chocolate into chocolate chip sized pieces to equal the volume of the chips in the recipe. The pearl sugar is a bit more difficult to come by, Pear sugar is made of large, crunchy morsels of sugar that dissolve easily but do not melt when baked. They're often used in northern European baking. You can find them at specialty cooking stores like Sur la Table or Williams Sonoma and in the Swedish specialty section of IKEA stores (if you're lucky enough to have one nearby). You can also find them on the King Arthur Flour website. If that's just not going to happen for you, use the biggest sugar crystals you can find. It won't quite be the same, but the crunch is an essential part of the charm of these puffs.
1 cup water
2 tsp sugar
6 tbs butter, cut into small pieces
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
1/2 cup pearl sugar
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a non-stick liner.
In a medium sauce pot, heat the water, sugar and butter until the butter melts and the water simmers. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in all of the flour at once. Beat the flour into the liquid ingredients until the mixture becomes smooth and pulls away from the sides of the pan. Let the mixture cool slightly stirring every so often (about 2-3 minutes total). Add the eggs one at a time, making sure to fully incorporate each one before adding the next. Let the dough cool completely before stirring in the chocolate chips.
Spoon or pipe the pastry dough into 2 tbs rounds on the prepared baking sheet spacing them evenly. Sprinkle the tops with the pearl sugar and press it in lightly. It will seem like way too much sugar, but trust me it is just right for the finished size of the profiteroles. Bake for 30-35 minutes until the profiteroles are puffed and a lovely bronze color. Cool completely on a wire rack and serve immediately.
Profiteroles are best eaten the same day they are made. If you must keep them for longer, place them in a zip top freezer bag and freeze up to one month. To reheat, bring the profiteroles to room temperature and then toast them lightly in a warm oven.