Learn how to make chocolate profiteroles, a classic dessert composed of choux pastry filled with cream and topped with warm chocolate sauce. The traditional filling might differ from one country to the next but one thing stays constant: profiteroles are universally loved!
What Are Profiteroles?
Profiteroles are made up of three components:
- a choux pastry shell
- a filling such as sweetened whipped cream, pastry cream, or even ice cream
- chocolate sauce
Profiteroles are a customizable dessert in that you can easily select the components so that they are perfectly in line with your preferences. I love using ice cream when filling the choux to contrast with the warm chocolate sauce. But if I have a little more time to spare, I’ll make a delicious crème légère composed of pastry cream and whipped cream.
As for the chocolate sauce, it can be fluid like syrup or thick enough to coat the choux when poured.
The best thing about making choux pastry is that it can easily be prepared in advance. I’d recommend storing it raw and then baking it the day you plan on serving it so it’s extra crispy and fresh.
I like to pipe the choux pastry into small dome shaped silicone molds and freeze until needed (for up to a month). You can also prepare the dough the day before, transfer it to a piping bag and chill until needed.
For choux that rise evenly in the oven without cracks, you can top the pastry with craquelin. This cookie-like topping adds texture and sweetness to the choux and is really easy to prepare.
- Heat the water, butter, sugar and salt in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until the butter melts completely.
- Increase the heat to medium-high and continue heating until the first bubbles appear.
- Off the heat, add the sifted flour in one go and mix with a wooden spoon until fully combined.
- Place over medium heat and keep stirring the dough until it no longer sticks to the saucepan. You’ll also notice a film forming on the bottom of the saucepan (except if you are using a non-stick saucepan).
- Transfer the dough to a large bowl and spread the dough against the edges of the bowl to create a thin layer. Set aside for a few minutes to cool down.
- Gradually add the eggs, waiting for them to be fully incorporated before adding more. Don’t worry if the dough splits and looks curdled. It will come together with more mixing.
- Stop adding egg as soon as the dough looks smooth and shiny and falls from the spoon in a thick ribbon. You might not need to add all of the egg. If you add more than needed, the dough will be too runny and the choux buns won’t rise properly during baking.
- Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a large plain tip. Get rid of air bubbles and pipe 3 cm (1.2 inch) choux mounds, spacing them about 4 cm (1.6 inches) apart.
- Top with frozen craquelin disks (if using). Alternatively, press down the peaks with a slightly damp finger (or a little bit of egg) and dust generously with powdered sugar.
- Bake until golden. Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely at room temperature.
Once the choux buns have cooled down, you can fill them with whatever pastry cream you like. It’s best to fill the choux shortly before serving them so they don’t get soggy.
To fill the choux:
- Using a small dented piping tip, make a small hole on the bottom of the choux. You can use a sharp knife instead to cut the hole.
- Insert the piping bag filled with cream into the hole and apply pressure just until the choux bun is full. The choux bun will feel heavier and some of the cream will start to come out.
- Wipe away excess cream using the back of a knife or a clean finger. Chill until needed.
If you want the filling to show as I’ve done in the featured image, simply slice the choux in two and pipe the filling in swirls.
Time to make a delicious, rich chocolate sauce to drizzle over the profiteroles.
If you made the chocolate ganache tart, then you already know how to make the chocolate sauce. It is simply a liquid ganache made by combining melted chocolate and hot heavy cream. All you have to do, if you want a thinner ganache, is to add more heavy cream (or milk). When the ganache is warm, it is still quite fluid. And you can quickly reheat it in the microwave if it firms up.
Let’s talk about the ingredients a bit more so you know how they will affect the recipe.
You can use any chocolate you like. Since it is the predominant flavor in the sauce, you should pick one that you really enjoy eating on its own. I like using dark chocolate with 65% cocoa for a deep chocolate flavor.
Just keep in mind that the darker the chocolate, the thicker the sauce will be. So if you decide to use chocolate with a lower cocoa percentage than stated in the recipe, you’ll need less heavy cream to achieve the same consistency.
Ganache is traditionally made by simply combining melted chocolate and hot heavy cream. I like to add a little bit of milk for a ganache that stays pourable even once chilled.
You can easily adjust the amount of liquid to get to what you deem to be the perfect chocolate sauce consistency. If you plan on using the ganache warm, simply add the hot liquids to the melted chocolate gradually until the sauce is as thin as you like it.
We’ll be adding a pinch of salt to enhance all the flavors. I also like to add a little bit of sugar just to balance out the bitterness of the dark chocolate. You can add as much or as little as you like. Just keep in mind that the filled choux buns are sweet so it’s best if the sauce isn’t overly sweet. If you’d rather use a sweeter chocolate with a milder chocolate flavor, you can skip the sugar.
I kept the recipe quite simple as I find it delicious as it is. But you can tweak it as you see fit depending on the desired result. Some recipes will call for additional ingredients such as butter for more richness and a little bit of shine. Corn syrup will also make your sauce shinier.
You can also add flavorings to the sauce such as spices (ginger, cinnamon), extracts (such as vanilla extract) and even mashed fruits such as coconut or mangoes. Chef Christophe Michalak blends into the cooked sauce a very ripe banana.
For a little bit of caramel flavor, you can simply caramelize the sugar first and then add the hot milk/cream. Then proceed as usual and pour everything onto the melted chocolate.
I’ll remind you briefly how to make a chocolate ganache with some step-by-step pictures and then it’s straight to the recipe!
- Place the chocolate in a small (microwavable) bowl. Heat in the microwave in short increments stirring in-between until the chocolate has fully melted.
- Heat together the heavy cream, milk, sugar and salt until simmering.
- Pour the hot liquids over the melted chocolate in 4-5 additions, stirring until fully combined.
- Strain through a fine-mesh sieve set over a measuring cup. Use warm if desired. Alternatively, cool down at room temperature then cover and chill until needed.
This post was originally published in January 2021. I updated it with new pictures and more information.
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