Recipe video above. Crispy light-as-air pastry balls filled with custard or cream and topped with chocolate. There are few things in life as delightful as biting into one of these! Terrific lighter / finger food option for dessert. Bonus: people are always impressed when you bring these to gatherings - but they're pretty straightforward!
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time40 mins
Total Time1 hr 10 mins
Choux Pastry (profiterole pastry balls):
- 100 g / 7 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 cup / 250ml water
- 1 cup / 150g flour , plain / all purpose
- 4 eggs 55 - 60g / 1.9-2.1oz each with shell, at room temperature
- Pinch of salt
Filling Options (choose one):
- Custard (below)
- Ice cream (Note 1)
- Whipped cream (Note 2)
Thick Custard Filling (Creme Patissiere):
- 4 egg yolks
- 1/4 cup / 55g white sugar , caster / superfine
- 1/2 cup / 80 g cornflour / cornstarch
- 600 ml / 2 1/3 cups milk , full fat best
- 1/4 cup / 55g extra white sugar , caster / superfine
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste (or extract or essence)
Chocolate Sauce (Note 3):
- 250 g / 8 oz dark chocolate (or US semi-sweet)
- 1 cup / 250 ml cream
Place butter in a saucepan over medium heat. When mostly melted, add water then bring to a rapid simmer.
While liquid is simmering, add flour and pinch of salt, and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon (still on stove) until the dough forms sort of a ball and pulls away from the sides of the saucepan (see video). About 1 minute.
Remove from heat and let mixture cool for 10 minutes.
Preheat oven to 220C/420F (standard) or 200C/390F (fan/convection).
Lightly grease 2 large or 3 standard baking trays with butter, then line with paper. (Grease stops paper sliding)
Add 1 egg into batter, beat until combined. Add remaining eggs one at a time making sure each is combined before adding the next. Dough should be like a thick paste (see video).
Place dough into a piping bag fitted with a 13 - 15mm round tip (1/2 - 3/5").
Pipe 2 tsp blobs (about 1.7 cm/ 2/3" blob base) 5cm/2" apart (I do 16 on each tray). Makes 40 - 50 blobs.
Wet your finger with water and pat down any peaks to form domes (for nice round balls).
Bake 2 trays at a time for 15 minutes, switching the trays halfway.
Remove from oven, reduce heat to 180C/350F (standard) or 160C/320F (fan).
Pierce balls with knife then return to oven for 5 - 7 minutes until golden and crispy.
Transfer to rack, cool fully before filling with custard, cream or split then fill with ice cream. Drizzle with chocolate and serve!
Place cream and chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Microwave 4 x 30 seconds, stirring in between, until incorporated. Cool to warm, then use for drizzling or dipping.
Whisk yolks and sugar, then whisk in cornflour.
Place milk, vanilla and extra sugar in a saucepan over medium high. Heat until just before simmering.
Whisk in 1/4 cup hot milk into egg mixture. Whisk in another 1/4 cup. Then add remaining milk mixture and whisk.
Pour back into saucepan. Return to stove on medium low (low for strong stoves). Whisk constantly 2 to 3 minutes until the mixture thicks to a thick dolloping custard consistency.
Remove from heat immediately, pour into bowl. Press cling wrap onto surface (stops skin forming) then refrigerate for 4 to 5 hours until set. Do not whisk again once set (loses thickness).
Spoon into piping bag fitting with a very fine nozzle. Then pipe into profiteroles (use the hole pierced during bake, or make a new hole).
1. Ice cream filling: This is American style profiteroles. Split the profiteroles, fill with ice cream, top with lid of profiterole then drizzle with chocolate sauce.
2. Cream filling: Another common filling option! Use 2 cups/500ml whipping cream, 1/4 cup white sugar and 1 tsp vanilla extract. Place in bowl and whip with electric beater or stand mixer until firm peaks form. Transfer to piping bag and pipe into profiteroles - or split profiteroles and dollop cream inside, then top with lid. Then drizzle with chocolate sauce.
3. Chocolate Sauce thickness: This sauce is a chocolate ganache so it's runny when warm (as pictured in photos and video) but it sets into a soft chocolate once cooled (like fudge frosting).
4. Number of trays - if you have 3 trays (I do), bake the first 2 first then bake the 3rd on the higher temp. Then pierce them all, then do the 2nd bake. This reduces the time the 3rd tray is sitting around with uncooked dough.
5. Serving / freshness: Profiteroles are at their prime when made as closely as possible to serving because the crispy shells soften within a few hours. But they are still MUCH crispier than store bought!
Make ahead: I make the balls, then reheat in the oven 3 to 5 minutes at 180C/350F until deep golden and crispy. Have the custard in the piping bag, ready to go. Chocolate sauce made, in the fridge. Reheat chocolate sauce in the microwave to melt. Pipe custard into the balls, drizzle with sauce then serve!
One step further (for emergencies only!): I have filled the balls with custard (can't do with cream), DO NOT do chocolate sauce. Refrigerate. Put in 240C/450F hot oven for 1 1/2 minutes, just to dry out and crisp the shell slightly, while keeping the inside cold. Then top with sauce and serve.
Leftovers: Chocolate topped, custard or cream filled profiteroles are still good for 24 to 36 hours! Custard keeps better than cream ones (cream soaks pastry more).
Pastry Storage: The cooked, unfilled pastry balls will keep in an airtight container for 3 days, or in the freezer for 3 months. Re-crisp the pastry balls in the oven 3 to 5 minutes at 180C/350F until deep golden and crispy.
6. Eclairs are made using choux pastry too! Here's how: Use a wider nozzle about 1.5 cm / 3/5" wide and pipe dough about 2cm / 4/5" wide and 12cm / 5" long. Bake on high until pale golden (12 - 15 minutes) then remove, pierce per recipe, then return to oven on the lower temp for 20 minutes or until crispy and deep golden. Split, dip top into chocolate then set aside to cool and set. Fill bottom with whipped cream then top with lid.
7. Nutrition per serving, assuming 48 profiteroles filled with custard and that ALL the chocolate is used (which it probably will not be, most likely to be leftovers)
Recipe sources: Choux pastry slightly adapted from Gourmet Traveller and Custard slightly adapted from this recipe.
Amount Per Serving
Calories from Fat 54
% Daily Value*
Saturated Fat 3g19%
Vitamin A 180IU4%
Vitamin C 0.1mg0%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Calories: 101kcal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 42mg | Sodium: 29mg | Potassium: 60mg | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 180IU | Vitamin C: 0.1mg | Calcium: 26mg | Iron: 0.6mg