Friday, October 10, 2014

Food Reward Friday

This week's lucky "winner"... profiteroles!!

Also called cream puffs and choux à la crème, this French-origin dessert combines a light puff pastry with a cream filling.  Those who have tried profiteroles know that one often leads to another!

Wheat flour is one of the most versatile ingredients for making highly palatable and rewarding foods.  Its ability to form an elastic dough allows it to trap air and bake into foods that appear light (because they're mostly air) but are actually quite calorie-dense (because the air goes away as you chew).  It also lends itself to homogenization with other seductive ingredients like fat and sugar.  This is why wheat flour is so ubiquitous in European cooking traditions.

Adding a cream filling to the flour-based puff increases its calorie density, fat content, and sugar content, and also creates a texture contrast-- leading to a very high reward value.  I can still remember the profiteroles my aunt made for a wedding when I was a young child, even though I remember little else about the wedding.  Highly rewarding foods create a strong imprint on our minds.

Hat tip to Rob Jamison for the idea.


Unknown said...

Hi Stephan,
Ahh, profiteroles ... I have to stay away from those (I am French) or I will pig out on those ...

BUT! Your picture is a little misleading. You need a melted chocolate coating on them and the pastry is "stuffed" with ice cream (vanilla sorbet in the basic recipe). What you are showing is the "choux à la crème" (simple pastry stuffed with some "crème pâtissière"). BIG difference :D

stephenhow said...


I have very similar childhood memories of my Aunt Bettie making these cream puffs with my sister. I can still recall their taste and texture.

I've never binged on pastries, but have eaten Crispy Cremes by the dozen. It was easy and relatively shame-free to anonymously buy them via their drive-thru. They had custard-filled donuts, but I preferred the texture of cake donuts with little icing.

djdfr said...

Profiteroles are puff pastry filled with ice cream and drizzled with chocolate sauce. :-)

RLL said...

One classic way for these are a ball barely more than an inch wide. Just the perfect size after a larger meal.

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