Imagine a supersized profiterole, dunked in glossy dark chocolate and served up for your sticky-fingered enjoyment. We're describing a decadent Dutch treat known as Bossche bollen (loosely translated as ''balls from Den Bosch", a city in the south of the Netherlands). These traditional tennis ball-sized cream-filled pastries have been made in Den Bosch, where they're known as sjekladebollen ("chocolate balls") for at least a century. Notoriously tricky to eat, locals tend to turn the pastry upside down so that the hard chocolate layer on top serves as a shell for the wayward whipped cream inside.
The following recipe originally appeared in The Dutch Kitchen cookbook. We've adapted it to include US measurements and published it on this site with the kind permission of the publisher.
Serve Bossche bollen as an accompaniment to coffee, as the Dutch do, or fly in the face of tradition and have it for dessert with tart summer fruits, such as raspberries, strawberries or red currants, which will help cut through all that richness.
- 2/5 cup (3.3 fl. oz/100 ml) water
- 3 scant tbsp. (40 g) butter
- ½ tsp. salt
- 2/5 cup (50 g) all-purpose flour
- 4 eggs (2 whole eggs and 2 egg whites)
- 1 cup (250 ml) whipping cream
- 2 tbsp. powdered (icing) sugar
- 1 vanilla pod
- 7/8 cup (100 g) powdered (icing) sugar
- 2 tbsp. cocoa powder
- Put the water, butter, and salt in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and bring to the boil.
- Sift the flour over a bowl and add to the boiling water while continuously stirring.
- Keep stirring until a dough ball forms in the saucepan.
- Take the pan off the heat and two of the eggs, one by one, taking care to add the second egg only once the first egg has been incorporated into the dough. Keep stirring until you have a nice, glossy dough.
- Divide the dough into 6 balls and lay these on a buttered baking sheet. Place the profiteroles in a preheated oven (437 °F/225 °C) for 20 minutes until they have turned golden brown and are cooked through.
- Turn the oven off, leaving the oven door slightly open. Allow the profiteroles to cool inside the oven for 10 minutes.
- In the meantime, add the powdered sugar, 1 egg white and half of the seeds from the vanilla pod to the cream and whip until stiff peaks form.
- Sift the powdered sugar and cocoa powder over a bowl. Add the other egg white, drop by drop, stirring until the mixture turns thick and shiny.
- Fill a piping bag with the whipped cream. Now make a little hole in the pastry, stick the nozzle of the piping bag through, and fill each Bossche bol with the cream.
- Brush the tops with the cocoa mixture.
- Use only pure Dutch cocoa powder, not sweetened! If you'd like to use melted chocolate instead, here's how to melt chocolate.
- Vanilla pods are expensive. Don't discard the other half of the vanilla pod and seeds. Instead, use it to flavor sugar. Here's how to make homemade vanilla sugar (remember to use only half the sugar stipulated).