This is a classic on French brasserie dessert menus: choux puffs, filled with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and covered with hot chocolate sauce! Molly J Wilkinson tells you how to make perfect profiteroles and says: I like to make this recipe for a dinner party as, wow, will the guests be impressed!! Bake two or three small choux per person and have that chocolate sauce warm and ready! Then all that’s left is to scoop the ice cream…”
Pâte à Choux
½ cup (120 ml) water
½ cup (120 ml) whole milk
7 tbsp (100 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into small cubes
1 tsp granulated sugar
½ tsp salt
1¼ cups (150 g) all-purpose flour
3 to 5 large eggs
6 oz (170 g) bittersweet, dark or semisweet chocolate (60 to 70%), chopped
1 cup (240 ml) heavy cream
Vanilla ice cream
Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C).
Makes 6-8 servings.
Make the pâte à choux dough
Prepare two baking sheets by lining them with a sheet of parchment or a silicone baking mat.
In a small to medium-sized saucepan, combine the water, milk, butter, sugar and salt. It’s important that the butter is at room temperature and cut into small cubes so the liquid doesn’t boil for a long time while it melts. This can cause too much water to evaporate and can affect the final texture.
Measure the flour and have it nearby. Heat the liquid ingredients over medium heat, stirring as needed, until they come to a full boil and the butter is melted. Turn off the heat as soon as a full boil is reached.
Add the flour all at once. Stir with a wooden or heatproof spoon until a ball of dough forms. Turn the heat back on to medium and stir continuously for 30 seconds to 1 minute, until a slight film covers the bottom of the pan. This dries out the dough a little and also cooks off any flour flavor.
Note: If the dough doesn’t come together and looks a bit like oatmeal, this can be because the liquid wasn’t at a full boil or there was a measurement error.
Transfer the dough from the saucepan to a clean large bowl (if making this by hand) or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix for several minutes on low speed until the dough is no longer steaming. Get those muscles out if you’re stirring this by hand using a spoon! You can do it!
Next, mix in 3 eggs, one at a time, on low-medium speed, fully incorporating each before adding the next. The dough will look separated and then come together as you continue to mix it.
Check the dough after you’ve added 3 eggs. To test, take a spoon, scoop up a large amount of dough, turn the spoon to the side and wait for the dough to fall. It will take several seconds, to drop. When it is the right texture, it will fall in a defined point known as a bec d’oiseau (bird’s beak) and look silky smooth (see picture below). Test for this several times to be sure.
The amount of eggs you need to get to this point depends on your flour and the humidity in your kitchen on any given day. If the dough is just about there, add just a little beaten egg at a time and test, until you have that nice point. If it still seems very thick, it might need another full egg or two before you reach the right texture.
Pipe 12 to 15 mounds of dough 1½ to 2 inches (4 to 5 cm) in diameter, using a pastry bag fitted with a 10- to 12-mm (3/8 inch) round piping tip. Hold the pastry bag perpendicular about 1 inch (2.5 cm) above the baking sheet. Press to form the mound. When it’s the right size, release the pressure, swirling on the top to cut it off. Leave about 2 inches (5 cm) of space around each mound. Pat down any tips or bumps with fingers dipped in water.
Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, depending on the size.
Resist the urge to open the oven to peek while they are baking. Instead, wait until the puffs are dark brown or have baked for at least 30 minutes.
Test to see whether they are done by carefully lifting one up and dropping it. If it feels light and hollow, then they are ready! If not, bake for a few more minutes until this point is reached. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.
Make the chocolate sauce
Place the chocolate in a medium-sized bowl. It always helps to chop the chocolate, no matter if it’s already in chips. The smaller pieces make it easier to melt and combine.
Heat the cream until it starts simmering and then pour it, all in one go, over the chocolate. Wiggle the bowl to fully cover the chocolate pieces with the cream. Let sit for a couple minutes for the chocolate to start to melt. Stirring immediately will cool everything down before it’s had a chance to melt.
Then, whisk in the center—first gently, so the liquid doesn’t fly out of the bowl, then briskly once it thickens, to bring it all together and form an emulsion. At first it will look separated, then it will come together into a thick, glossy chocolate sauce.
If you have a couple of chocolate pieces that haven’t melted, gently warm in a microwave or place the bowl (be sure it is heatproof) on top of a saucepan of steaming water to make a double boiler.
Set aside until ready to serve.
Cut the cooled choux in half horizontally with a serrated knife and fill with a scoop of ice cream. Pat the top back on. Freeze until ready to eat or serve immediately with the warm chocolate sauce.
They can be served individually, portioned with two or three choux per plate, or in a big pile with the chocolate sauce poured over top for guests to pull from.
If needed, reheat the chocolate sauce in a microwave, or in a small saucepan over the lowest heat, stirring constantly. It won’t take much!
Make and freeze the choux puffs in advance as a party time saver—you can even freeze them with the ice cream scooped inside!
Molly Wilkinson is a pastry chef trained at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. Originally from Texas, teaches pastry and cooking workshops in Versailles, she lives in Versailles, France. Find her on instagram.com/mollyjwilk. Her book, French Pastry Made Simple: Foolproof Recipes for Éclairs, Tarts, Macarons and More By Molly Wilkinson, . is available on Amazon, online bookshops and can be ordered in book stores everywhere!