When all else fails, ice cream-filled pastry puffs to the rescue

Bad news blasts from every vista. Trouble drops down from the top tier of government and bubbles up from the bottom of the sea. Even the air is smudged with the smoke of our national forests, burning. Other eras knew trying times; ours knows all news, all the time.

The flip side of endless information is endless entertainment, and that’s where things get truly grim. Have you watched “The Handmaid’s Tale”? Who streams torment, on purpose? Almost everyone.

The constant con calls for some pro, like those cheerful T-shirts that proclaim: pro-gluten, prosecco, profiterole. As am I. Especially profiterole. The little pastry puffs, stuffed with ice cream and doused in chocolate syrup, can’t cure all our ills. But they do a swell job trying.



Prep: 15 minutes

Bake: 20 minutes

Makes: 6 servings (18 pastries)

1 cup milk

1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, cut up

4 teaspoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup flour

4 eggs

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 pints vanilla, coffee or caramel ice cream

1 cup warm chocolate syrup, see recipe

1. Boil: In a large saucepan, heat milk, butter, sugar and salt to a boil.

2. Mix: Dump in flour, all at once. Stir with a wooden spoon to a big soft lump that looks like mashed potatoes. Reduce heat and stir another minute. The bottom of the pan may develop a coat of flour; ignore it.

3. Beat: Scrape dough into the food processor. Process a few seconds. Drop 1 egg down the chute; process completely smooth before repeating with each remaining egg. Swirl in vanilla extract.

4. Shape: Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Scrape dough into a pastry bag fitted with a plain 1/2-inch tip and pipe 18 domes (each 2 inches wide). Dip a finger in water and smooth out any stray points. Alternatively, use a round ice-cream scoop (about 2-inch diameter) dipped in water to portion out 18 domes.

5. Puff: Set rack in upper third of oven heated to 400 degrees. Bake puffs until puffed and golden, 20-22 minutes. Pierce each puff once with the tip of a sharp knife, to release steam. Let cool.

6. Serve: Slice puffs along their waistlines and open, hamburger-bun style. Set 3 in each of 6 shallow bowls. Stuff each puff with ice cream. Close tops. Drizzle (or douse) with chocolate syrup. Voila.

Chocolate syrup: In a medium saucepan, whisk together 3/4 cup water, 1/2 cup sugar and 1 pinch salt. Bring to a boil. Drop in 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, cut up. Reduce heat to medium and whisk as mixture bubbles madly, then slows to a shiny syrup, about 8 minutes. Pull pan off heat. Drop in 2 tablespoons butter and whisk until it disappears. Whisk in 2 teaspoons vanilla extract and 3/4 teaspoon instant espresso powder. Pour syrup into a serving pitcher. Let cool, 10 minutes. Makes: about 1 cup.

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