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
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.