A drizzle of warm chocolate sauce over choux pastry filled with cream is one of those desserts that you can’t really mess up. The traditional filling might differ from one country to another but one thing stays constant: profiteroles are universally loved! They are packed with flavor, yet light.
Maybe too light actually. Raise your hand if you have ever eaten several choux in one sitting! My husband and I like to share a plate of five profiteroles when we go to a restaurant so we don’t overeat. But then we always end up ordering another plate to “share”! So if you are looking for a low calorie dessert, you’ve come to the wrong place. But if you want something tasty, then read on!
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 quite a customizable dessert in that you can easily select the components so that they are perfectly in line with your preferences. I generally like ice-cream for example in my choux, to contrast with the warm chocolate sauce.
And the chocolate sauce can be fluid, like a syrup. Or thicker, and coat your choux when poured.
We talked in depth about how to make choux pastry. And we also learned all about pastry cream and chantilly cream. Time to learn how to make an amazing chocolate sauce for our profiteroles.
The Different Types Of Chocolate Sauce
You will find so many different recipes for chocolate sauce. Finding the perfect recipe though can be hard. You might find the sauce too sweet, or too thin, or even too thick etc. But that’s the beauty of preparing your own desserts. You can tweak them as much as you want, until you get your ideal consistency and taste. So let’s see how to do that.
Chocolate sauce recipes can be broken down into two categories1:
- Sauces made with water (or syrup)
- Sauces made with milk or cream (recipe I’ll be sharing today)
A chocolate sauce made with milk or cream will be richer and creamier than one made with water. It will also be lighter in color than one made with water, which tends to have a very deep color.
A chocolate sauce made with syrup will usually be quite sweet. The advantage of this type of sauce is that it lasts for months. You can just store it in a squeeze bottle in the refrigerator once it has cooled down, and use it whenever you need it.
Syrup is simply water and sugar (equal amounts of each for simple syrup) boiled together until the sugar has fully dissolved. To make a chocolate syrup, all you need to do is add chocolate to the syrup, simmer everything together and then strain it. How much chocolate to add will depend on how thick or thin you want your sauce to be. The more chocolate there is, the thicker it will be. And the more syrup you add, the thinner it will be. Simple!
Depending on the chocolate you are using and the consistency desired, equal amounts of syrup and chocolate would be more or less on point. Chef John Terczak from TheSeasonedCook channel recommends starting off with less syrup than you need, such as 1 cup of syrup for 2 cups of chopped chocolate.
Once the chocolate syrup has simmered, remove it from the heat, strain it and wait for it to cool down. You can then simply thin it out as much as you’d like by adding more syrup without resorting to any more heating.
Using cocoa powder
If you really want to make chocolate sauce but you are out of chocolate bars, it is possible to use cocoa powder instead. You simply boil granulated sugar, sifted (important, to avoid lumps) cocoa powder and water together until the syrup thickens to the desired consistency. The more you heat it, the more water will evaporate and the thicker the sauce will be. If you take it off the heat too soon, you might end up with a very thin, watery syrup. Just keep in mind that the syrup will thicken a bit more while cooling down.
Once your syrup is ready, you can flavor it, with vanilla extract for example. Add a pinch of salt. And to round off all the flavors, add a little bit of butter. It makes a huge difference. The only downside to adding butter is that you can’t store it for too long.
The recipe I’m sharing today is for chocolate sauce made with cream/milk, not syrup. If you want to try making your own chocolate syrup, I’d recommend starting with about 150 g of water for every 100 grams of sugar. How much cocoa powder to add will depend on how much chocolate flavor you want and how deep you want the color to be. I used about 25 g of cocoa powder for 100 g of sugar.
Start out by making tiny amounts of syrup, let’s say using 20 g of sugar. You can taste the syrup when it’s ready and add a little bit of icing sugar if you find it too bitter. If you find it too thick, you can thin it out again with a little bit of hot water. Write down your attempts and changes until you get to your ideal syrup.
Chocolate sauces made with milk/cream
If you made the chocolate ganache tart when we did the tart calendar, then you already know how to make this kind of sauce. It is simply a liquid ganache. All you have to do, if you want a thinner ganache, is to add more heavy cream (or milk). You can even add simple syrup if you want to mix it up.
Personally, I love chocolate fudge sauce so I just use recipes for chocolate ganache that are meant for tart fillings and drizzle them over my choux. When the ganache is warm, it is still quite fluid. And you can quickly reheat it in the microwave if it firms up.
Chocolate Sauce Ingredients
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. But there are differences between the chocolates which you should keep in mind. The darker the chocolate, the thicker your sauce will be. So for a specific sauce consistency, if you decide to use dark chocolate, you would need more heavy cream than if you were using milk chocolate.
If making chocolate syrup you would use simple syrup (water and sugar) as the liquid. When making a ganache, you can use heavy cream and/or milk. Using milk instead of cream will give the ganache a runnier consistency and it won’t thicken as much in the fridge. Some recipes even include water to retain a fluid sauce even when refrigerated.
You can also make a chocolate sauce by adding chocolate to a crème anglaise, although that would require additional work and using eggs.
Other ingredients in a chocolate sauce
You might notice a few additional ingredients in chocolate sauce such as butter and corn syrup. Adding cold butter pieces will make your sauce richer and add a little bit of shine. The corn syrup will also make your sauce shinier.
You can also add flavorings to your sauce such as spices (ginger, cinnamon), extracts (such as vanilla extract) and even mashed fruits such as coconut, mangoes. Chef Christophe Michalak blends into the cooked sauce a very ripe banana.
If you want a caramel flavor in your sauce, you can simply caramelize the sugar first and then add the boiled milk/cream. Then proceed as usual and pour everything onto the chopped chocolate.
Hopefully now you have all the information you need to make the perfect sauce for you. 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!
Preparing The Chocolate Sauce
This is essentially a chocolate ganache so the process is very similar to the one described when making chocolate tarts.
- Heat the milk, cream and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat just until small bubbles form.
- Optional: In the meantime, place the chopped chocolate in a small bowl and heat in the microwave, in 30 seconds increments. Stir in between. This step is recommended when using very dark chocolate. I always have trouble combining everything if the chocolate isn’t melted beforehand.
- Pour the hot liquids (milk/cream) onto the chocolate (chopped or melted) and let it sit a few minutes before stirring.
- Stir until the ganache looks smooth and glossy.
- Transfer to a tea pitcher if desired.
And that’s it! It takes just 5 minutes to make, okay maybe 10 minutes to chop the chocolate! Who here hates chopping the chocolate?! You can see from my pictures I got a bit lazy and kept some bigger pieces. And the truth is, it’s okay! I heat the chocolate in the microwave very carefully, stir frequently and then it’s all nice and melted! So give yourself a break, especially when making chocolate sauce! It’s supposed to be easy and fun!
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1Gilles, C. (2009). La Cuisine Expliquée. Editions BPI.