After-Christmas Market Winter Comforts
True, Christmas has been over for more than a month now. But the past days have been cold and stormy, with occasional snow. And that definitely does make me crave the coziness of the Christmas time, and especially the Christmas markets, again. From around mid-November, Christmas markets are frantically being built up everywhere in Vienna. There are over 20 official markets in the city. All with their own character: from super touristy ones, via artsy ones to a medieval one. Although I did not quite manage to see all of them yet, I did visit several as this seems the favourite after-work pastime of the entire city for a bit more than a month.
Of course, I had my share of Christmas market experience already having lived in Germany for four years. But two things were noticeably different for me. Firstly, the absence of Christmas music! Used to hearing my quota of Christmas songs, both traditional and modern, during the markets, this was not the case in Vienna. To my surprise, here it ranged from no music to jazz or pop. And, secondly, the love for punch. It is fair to state that most (or all) of my time on Christmas markets is spent socializing and drinking glühwein, not really shopping for decorations or jewelry. But next to glühwein, also punch is extremely popular on the Viennese Christmas markets. Flavours can range from orange to raspberry and from grandma’s apple pie to “man punch” with an extra shot. But actually, punch is not an Austrian nor a European invention. Originally the drink apparently comes from India. Generally, apart from in the USA, punch now just refers to a whole range of drinks that usually have fruit or fruit juices in them. They often contain alcohol but might be non-alcoholic too, like the children punch on the Viennese markets. The original punch drink however is made with alcohol, sugar, lime or lemon juice, water, and spices. The employees of the English East India Company took the idea of the drink with them and introduced punch to England. From there, it of course conquered the rest of Europe. Including the Christmas markets of Vienna.
Personally, I still prefer glühwein as my go-to drink. But if I have to choose a type of punch, then it will be the orange one. So seeing that, although the Christmas markets might be over, some comfort is still needed during those cold days, I figured I would make one of my all-time favourite sweets again. And this time with some orange punch inspiration. Profiteroles filled with an orange and cinnamon flavoured ricotta, just to have a little bit of this Christmas market comfort on cold days.
Profiteroles with Orange and Cinnamon Ricotta Filling
Of course, there are plenty of ways to fill profiteroles. It is also great to fill them simply with whipped cream and dip them in chocolate. Or, for a savoury version that goes very well as a light snack with a good glass of wine, leave them without filling but sprinkle some grated cheddar or other melty cheese over the top before putting the profiteroles in the oven.
Ingredients (for around 15 profiteroles)
- 75 grams of flour
- 60 ml milk
- 50 grams of butter
- Half a teaspoon of caster sugar
- 2 medium eggs
- Pinch of salt
- 1 orange
- 150 grams ricotta
- Half a teaspoon of cinnamon
- 3 teaspoons of honey
Preheat your oven to 200°C and line a baking tray with baking paper.
Start by making the choux pastry for the profiteroles. Sieve the flour into a bowl and add a pinch of salt. Pour the milk into a small pot and slowly bring to a boil. Chop the butter into small chunks and add to the boiling milk. Add the sugar as well. Bring this mixture again to the boil. Tip the sieved flour into the milk and take off the heat. Stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until the mixture becomes a thick dough. Place the pot back on the fire and stir for around half a minute. Take the mixture off the heat again and let it cool down. Meanwhile, beat the eggs in a small bowl. Add half of the eggs to the dough and, still with the wooden spoon, mix the eggs through. It might seem the dough will not come together when you tip in the eggs, but just stir very strongly. When this is mixed well, add the other half of the eggs and do the same. The dough should be shiny and thick enough so it does not spread out. Using a piping bag, pipe around 15 small round piles of the dough on the baking tray. Push down the tips with a wet finger. You can also use a teaspoon instead of a piping bag, but the latter is much easier in this case.
Bake the profiterols into the oven for around 20 minutes. They should be golden and puffed up when you take them out.
While the profiteroles are baking, prepare the filling. Grate the peel of the orange and press the juice. You should have around 100 ml of orange juice. Place the orange juice in a small pot and boil over medium heat for around 7 minutes until it is a syrup of about a quarter of the quantity you had first. Let the orange juice cool down. Mix the ricotta with the orange zest, the orange juice, cinnamon and honey. You can of course add additional honey depending on how much you like sweetness.
Once the profiteroles are baked and cooled down, prick a small hole in the middle or bottom. Using your piping bag again, fill the profiteroles with the ricotta mixture.
You can sprinkle them with some powdered sugar before serving. In the fridge, profiteroles will stay alright for a couple of days, but of course it’s best to eat them fresh.