For the Pastry Cream (Crème Pâtissière or Vanilla Custard) (Please see my crème pâtissière recipe with step-by-step photos and cooking tips)
Pour the milk and cream into a medium-sized saucepan.
Add the vanilla extract.
Warm the mixture until it just starts to simmer.
In a large bowl or jug, beat together the egg yolks and sugar, and then whisk in the flour.
Slowly pour the warm milk and cream mixture into the egg mixture (not the other way around or else you will have scrambled eggs), whisking as you do so until the custard is smooth.
Pour this mixture into a clean saucepan and whisk gently over medium heat until the custard thickens. This should take only a few minutes.
Continue whisking for another 1-2 minutes to allow the mixture to release a few bubbles.
Pour the custard into a bowl and set aside to cool.
I recommend covering the bowl with a layer of clingfilm pressed against the custard to stop a skin from forming.
For the Choux Buns (Profiteroles) (Please see my choux pastry recipe with step-by-step photos and baking tips)
Preheat the oven to 200°C (390°F) (without fan).
Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.
Place the water, butter and salt in a large saucepan over medium-high heat until the butter has melted and the water just begins to boil.
Take the pan off the heat.
Add the flour.
Beat everything together with a wooden spoon until the mixture comes together in a dough and comes away from the sides of the pan.
Tip the dough into the bowl of an electric stand mixer.
Using the flat paddle attachment, beat the mixture for a few seconds to knock out the air and to cool the dough a little.
Crack the eggs into a small bowl and, with the mixer on, add one egg at a time and beat until the mixture is thick and smooth. The consistency should be such that it should hold its shape once piped into a ball.
Fit a 2 cm (1 inch) plain nozzle into a piping bag and pipe little rounds onto the baking tray about 5 cm apart.
Fill a small cup with water to use to wet your fingertips and press down any pointy tips on the rounds of dough.
Bake for about 20-25 minutes until it is a pale, golden colour.
To check if the choux buns are cooked, they should sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.
Remove to a cooling rack and pierce the underside of each choux bun with a pin or cake skewer to let the steam out and to prevent them from becoming soggy.
For the Chocolate Ganache
Simply melt the cream and chocolate together in a saucepan over medium heat.
Whisk the mixture together until it is thick and smooth.
The chocolate sauce should be served warm.
The sauce will thicken as it cools but it reheats easily.
If the sauce separates upon reheating, give it a good whisk.
To assemble the Profiteroles
Fit a piping bag with a small plain nozzle and fill it with the custard or pastry cream.
Fill the choux buns by inserting the nozzle into an opening; if there is none, simply pierce the buns with the tip of a small knife or chopstick to make way for the nozzle.
The choux buns are quite hollow inside and will fill easily with the custard, but be careful not to overfill them.
It is up to you how you wish to serve the profiteroles, but I like to put 3 or 4 filled profiteroles on a plate for each person, and to serve the chocolate sauce in a small jug on the side so that each person can pour over as much or as little as they like.
To make a Burnt Sugar Custard for the filling, mix together 2 tablespoons of sugar and water, and cook over high heat until the mixture boils and turns a dark brown caramel. Pour this caramel into the warm custard and whisk quickly as you do so to prevent any hard bits of caramel forming. Strain the custard through a fine sieve into a bowl and set aside to cool.
To make a chocolate pastry cream filling, please see my recipe for chocolate crème pàtissière in my recipe for Chocolate Éclairs.
To serve profiteroles the traditional French way, simply omit the vanilla custard. Split the choux buns in half and fill with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream. Drizzle with chocolate ganache before serving.
The choux buns can be made ahead of time and stored in an airtight container for a few days. However, they will soften overnight. To crisp them up again, reheat them in an oven at 150° (350°F) for 5 to 10 minutes. Allow them to cool before assembling them.
The pastry cream can be made ahead of time and stored in the fridge for a few days. Cover the bowl with some clingfilm, with the plastic directly on top of the custard to prevent a skin from forming.
The chocolate ganache can also be made ahead of time and reheated gently on the stove before stirring.
OVEN TEMPERATURES All recipes on this website state temperatures for a regular oven (i.e. a conventional oven without fan). If you have a convection oven with a fan, please consult the manufacturer’s handbook on how to adjust the temperature and baking time accordingly.