A profiterole is a dish of choux pastry balls filled with whipped cream or pastry cream; or very commonly in the US and France, ice cream. The puffs may be left plain or made to resemble swans or garnished with chocolate sauce, caramel, or a dusting of powdered sugar.
The choux paste is piped through a pastry bag or dropped with a pair of spoons into small balls and baked to form largely hollow puffs. Then the puffs are filled by slicing off the top, filling, and reassembling, or by injecting with a pastry bag and a narrow piping tip.
The most common dessert presentations involve ice cream, whipped cream or a pastry cream filling, and are served plain, with chocolate sauce, or with a crisp caramel glaze. They can also be topped with powdered sugar, frosting, or fruit. Filled and glazed with caramel, they are assembled into a type of pièce montée called croquembouches, often served at weddings and during the Christmas Holiday in France. Profiteroles are also used as the outer wall of Gâteau St-Honoré.
The origin of both the pastry and its name profiterole are obscure.
The word profiterole (also spelled prophitrole, profitrolle, profiterolle) has existed in English since the 16th century, borrowed from French. The original meaning in both English and French is unclear, but later it came to mean a kind of roll 'baked under the ashes'. A 17th-century French recipe for a Potage de profiteolles or profiterolles describes a soup of dried small breads (presumably the profiteroles) simmered in almond broth and garnished with cockscombs, truffles, and so on. The current meaning is only clearly attested in the 19th century.
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