Sometimes you stare up the mountain you told yourself you were going to hike, marveling at it’s splendor and wondering, “will it be worth it?” So many steps to be walked, so many breaths to be drawn in and out, and so much energy to be consumed…all for the glorious moment of savoring your final achievement; to stand at the top, gazing at the beautiful scenery, and basking in the glow of accomplishment. But does all the work and struggle warrant the satisfaction you receive in the end?
I would say that sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn’t. I guess it depends and it varies for every person and for every situation.
Take this dessert for instance. At first glance, it may seem like too much to attempt making from scratch. There are three different components, all entailing numerous procedures and steps. But this is truly one of those instances where the journey, as intimidating as it may seem to make at first glance, is completely worthwhile, at least in my humble opinion.
First of all, the flavor is delicious. You may beg to differ, but the textures and flavors of crisp profiteroles stuffed with homemade salted caramel ice cream and served with poached spiced pears are completely worth all the challenges in the world to me. Sprinkle a few toasted pecans over the whole thing and even better! Secondly, all the steps in the recipe are easily explained to guide you, so there is no reason to feel intimidated by the presumed overload. Thirdly, every recipe of every component can be done separately on different days. In fact, that’s what I did and I encourage you to do the same. It helps to break up a long recipe into a more digestible (no pun intended) recipe; profiteroles on day one, ice cream on day two, and poached spiced pears on day three. Last but not least, it’s always fun to take on a challenge, especially when the outcome is Profiteroles filled with Salted Caramel Ice Cream and Poached Spiced Pears. The KitchenAid® Ice Cream Maker Attachment and the KitchenAid® Ultra Power™ 5-Speed Hand Mixer make this recipe very approachable!
So let us begin our journey, because the destination is waiting for us and it tastes quite delectable.
Day 1: Profiteroles. Set oven temperature to 375 F. Combine milk, butter, salt, and sugar in a pot. Cook until mixture comes to a rolling boil. Add flour and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until dough absorbs the moisture and flour is well incorporated.
Place dough in a bowl and mix with KitchenAid® 5-Speed Hand Mixer until dough cools down a bit. Once that happens, add eggs, one at a time, and continue mixing until they’re well mixed into the dough.
Place dough into a piping back that has a #3 plain tip. Pipe rounds of dough that are 1” in diameter.
Apply a double coating of egg wash and bake until they puff up, become golden brown, and their interior is hollow and dry.
Day 2: Salted Caramel Ice Cream Base. To make the salted caramel ice cream, combine sugar and water in a pot and cook until sugar caramelizes into a shade of dark amber.
Meanwhile, prepare ice water bath by filling a large bowl halfway with ice and water. Set aside for later use. Once sugar reaches a dark shade of amber, remove pot from heat and pour in heavy cream, milk, and vanilla extract, whisking until evenly incorporated. Set aside.
Place egg yolks, sugar, and salt in a bowl. Slowly pour the warm caramel mixture into the egg yolk-sugar mixture bowl while stirring continuously. Pour mixture back into the same pot and cook on low heat so that eggs don’t become scrambled. Stir mixture in a figure 8 pattern with a wooden spoon so that all sides of the pot are touched as you cook it. Continue cooking until you can draw your finger across the back of the spoon and it makes a mark through the ice cream base without it running back on itself.
Remove from heat and pass it through sieve and into a bowl that’s sitting over the ice water. Stir ice cream base until it cools down. Cover ice cream base with plastic and store in fridge until it’s ready to be turned into ice cream.
Day 3: Spin Salted Caramel Ice Cream Base and Poach Pears: Pour chilled ice cream base into a container with a spout and pour base slowly into KitchenAid® Ice Cream Maker Attachment.
Spin ice cream base until it becomes thick in consistency. This ice cream won’t look completely frozen at this point. It will freeze and harden once it’s placed in the freezer. Transfer ice cream into an airtight container and freeze until further use.
For the pears, make a light simple syrup by cooking water, sugar, vanilla bean, cinnamon stick, and allspice berries until sugar completely dissolves.
Peel pears, cut them in half, and scoop out the seeds and fibers.
Add halved pears to light syrup. Cut a piece of wax paper and make slits on it. Place piece of wax paper over pears.
Allow pears to poach in the light syrup solution until they are tender and they show no signs of resistance when you poke into them with a small knife. Allow them to cool down to room temperature.
And finally it’s time to assemble this dessert and put all of the pieces together. To do that, cut poached pears into thin slices.
Cut the top off each profiterole and scoop salted caramel ice cream into the base of each one.
Place profiterole tops over ice cream scoops. Place assembled profiteroles on serving plate along with sliced poached pears. At this point you can add toasted pecans or walnuts if desired.
Delicious and totally worth it!
Profiteroles with Salted Caramel Ice Cream and Poached Spiced Pears
Makes 10-12 servings
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup butter, or 1/2 stick
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup + 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 large eggs
Water to adjust
1 egg, lightly beaten for egg wash
For poached spiced pears
3 Bosc pears
4 cups water
2 cups sugar
1 vanilla bean, split down the middle
2 cinnamon sticks
3 allspice berries
For salted caramel ice cream
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup milk
1 cup sugar + 1 tablespoon sugar, divided into 2 amounts
1/4 cup water
8 egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup toasted pecans, optional
Preheat oven to 375 F. Cover a sheet tray with parchment paper and set it aside for later use.
Combine milk, butter, salt, and sugar in a saucepan a bring mixture to a rolling boil. Once mixture comes to a rolling boil turn heat to low, add flour and stir on stovetop vigorously with a wooden spoon until dough absorbs the moisture and flour is well incorporated. Remove from heat.
Place dough in a medium-size bowl and mix on low speed using a KitchenAid® 5-Speed Hand Mixer until dough has gotten the chance to cool down a bit before adding the eggs.
Begin to add the eggs one at a time and allow each egg to blend well into the dough until it reaches a smooth consistency. If dough is too dry, add a small amount of water and mix it in, a teaspoon at a time, until desired consistency is achieved. Dough should have enough moisture so that you can form a peak of it on your finger and the tip of the peak slightly bends.
Place dough into a pastry bag that has a #3 tip. Hold bag at a 90-degree angle over prepared sheet tray. Squeeze pastry bag continuously and stop squeezing when profiterole mounds have a diameter of 1”. Twist off while ceasing pressure. Continue piping mounds onto sheet tray and spacing them a couple of inches apart from each other. Apply a double egg wash over profiteroles with a pastry brush.
Bake at 375 F for about 20-25 minutes or until profiteroles have a nice golden color all throughout. Turn oven temperature down to 250 F and bake for an additional 25 minutes, or until the interior of the profiteroles are completely dry and baked through. Remove sheet tray from oven and let it cool on a wire rack. (Note: You can see if profiteroles are baked properly by cutting one in half and testing the center. If the interior of the profiterole is still a bit wet, continue baking them for a few minutes longer until interior is dry).
If profiteroles are ready for immediate use, store them in an airtight container at room temperature until they’re ready to be filled with ice cream. If profiteroles are to be used on another day, store them in an airtight container in the freezer until further use. Be sure to thaw them out for at least one hour before filling them with ice cream.
For poached spiced pears
Combine water, sugar, vanilla bean, cinnamon sticks, and allspice berries in a pot and bring to a boil on medium-high heat. Turn stove temperature to low-medium heat in order to maintain a gentle simmer. Set pot aside once sugar is completely dissolved.
Peel pears from top to bottom and cut them in half.
Scoop out the centers with a melon baller to remove the seeds and the fibers. Trim any remaining fibers and the stem of each half with a pairing knife.
Add halved pears to light syrup. Cut a piece of wax paper so that it’s big enough to cover all of the pears in the pot. Make a few slits on the wax paper with a small pairing knife. Gently place wax paper over the pears and adjust it as needed so that it covers the entire surface and it rests directly over the pears throughout the entire poaching process.
Allow pears to poach anywhere from 40 minutes to 2 hours at low-medium heat (depending on the ripeness level of each pear), so that they are tender and show no signs of resistance when you poke or cut into them. Flip pears over at least once midway through poaching time to acquire a more even poaching all around. Remove pears from heat and allow them to cool down to room temperature. Store poached spiced pears and the syrup in an airtight container and place it in the fridge until further use.
For salted caramel ice cream
Prepare an ice water bath by filling a large bowl halfway with ice and water. Set it aside for later use.
Combine heavy cream and milk together in a bowl or container and set it aside.
Combine 1 cup of sugar and water in a small pot. Mix sugar and water gently with your fingers until mixture resembles wet sand. Place over medium-high heat and cook until sugar caramelizes and turns into a shade of dark amber. Remove from heat and pour heavy cream and milk mixture, whisking until evenly incorporated. (Note: If caramel locks up and becomes solid, continue cooking over low-medium heat until caramel slowly melts. Be sure not to cook caramel too dark or too light. Overly dark caramel will taste burnt and bitter, causing the ice cream to taste burnt and bitter as well. On the other hand, if the caramel is too light, it won’t develop much of a caramel flavor. Sugar should be cooked so that it’s not too light or too dark in color so that it has the perfect balance of sweetness and bitterness). Add vanilla extract to caramel and stir.
Meanwhile, place egg yolks, 1 tablespoon of sugar, and salt in a bowl. Slowly pour warm caramel over egg yolks while whisking constantly. (Note: If you prefer your caramel ice cream to be less salty in flavor, reduce salt amount by half. You can always taste the ice cream base before you spin it and add a bit more salt if you want to increase the saltiness of it). Pour yolk-caramel mixture back into pot and cook over a low and gentle heat so that eggs don’t become scrambled. Stir mixture in a figure 8 pattern with a wooden spoon so that all sides of the pot are touched as you cook it. Continue cooking until you can draw your finger across the back of the spoon and it makes a mark through the ice cream base without it running back on itself.
Remove from heat and pass ice cream base through a sieve and onto a heatproof bowl. Place heatproof bowl over ice water bath for about 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once ice cream base is completely chilled, cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 8 hours.
Assemble and engage the KitchenAid® Ice Cream Maker Attachment, dasher, and drive assembly as directed by attachment instructions. Turn the KitchenAid® Professional 600 Series Stand Mixer to speed 2. Pour chilled ice cream base into a container with a spout and pour base slowly into Ice Cream Maker Attachment. Churn on Stand Mixer speed 2 for about 25 minutes, until the ice cream base thickens and grows in volume. Transfer ice cream into an airtight container and freeze for a minimum of 6 hours.
To serve, cut poached pears into thin slices with a paring knife. Using a small serrated knife, cut the top off each profiterole and scoop caramel ice cream into each profiterole base using a 1-1/8″ ice cream scoop. Place profiterole tops over scoops of salted caramel ice cream. Place assembled profiteroles on serving plate and the sliced poached spiced pears alongside them. Add a few toasted pecans over the pears and profiteroles if desired. Serve immediately.
Note: Dessert components can be stored separately. Store poached pears in their syrup for about 2-3 weeks in the fridge. Store baked profiteroles for about 4-6 weeks in the freezer.
*The Contributor of this post has been compensated by KitchenAid for this post, but this post represents the Contributor’s own opinion.*