This Mocha Profiteroles Wreath is the perfect show stopper for your holiday dessert table. Crisp choux buns filled with softly whipped espresso cream and dipped in dark chocolate are piled into the shape of a Christmas wreath for some festive cheer.
At least once during the Holiday season, you'll need a dessert with that wow factor. And this profiteroles wreath is it! Much like my Gingerbread Swiss Roll Cake, Cranberry Mini Pavlovas and Clementine Dulce de Leche Cake, it's a dessert to impress.
The classic french choux buns are crisp and golden and filled with a simple whipped cream flavoured with coffee and chocolate (such a dreamy combination, am I right?!). Each choux bun is dipped in melted dark chocolate. Once set, the buns are piled into the shape of a wreath and decorated with finishing touches.
This profiteroles wreath dessert looks fantastic, but more importantly, each profiterole is a delight. The buns are crisp to bite into, and the sweetened coffee cream is a surprise. The dark chocolate compliments the sweetness of the cream. What a special dessert!
Why you'll love this recipe
- Become a choux pastry master. Once you follow my steps, you'll see how fabulous choux pastry is to make. Once you have the know-how, you see how versatile it is (think different fillings or shapes like eclairs and Paris Brest)
- Individual delights. Each profiterole is like biting down into a ball of heaven. If you don't fancy making a wreath, just pile these up into a mound on a plate before serving.
- Dessert centrepiece. Wow your guests with this profiteroles wreath beauty. It looks far more complicated than it actually is to make. Sssshhh, we won't tell!! Plus you can go to town with the festive decoration. Add some berries, sprinkles, gold leaf or chocolate shavings.
Each component (choux pastry, filling and topping) of the profiteroles wreath has a simple list of ingredients. A basic choux dough has water, butter, flour and eggs- that's it! I add in a little sugar and salt, but that's my preference; they can be omitted if you prefer.
- Water - with no baking powder to help the pastry rise, the choux relies on the high moisture content, which creates steam in the oven and puffs up the pastry, which in turn sets in place with the high heat of the oven.
- Butter - provides richness and flavour to the dough, but also moisture. If using salted butter, then omit the salt later on.
- Flour - adds structure. Weigh your flour with digital scales to obtain the most accurate weight.
- Eggs - adding just the right amount of eggs helps create a flexible and structured dough when baked. Too much dough will be too runny and result in flat choux balls; not enough, and the dough will be too dry and not crack. I recommend 220g, which is about four large eggs. But keep the 5th egg to hand just in case you need a little extra; plus, we'll need this for the egg wash too.
- Sugar and salt - Sugar adds sweetness whilst the salt balances this sweetness out.
- Cream - double (heavy) or whipping cream is best to get that light aerated texture of softly whipped cream.
- Powdered Icing Sugar - With the cocoa powder and espresso powder in the cream, the icing sugar is crucial to provide much-needed sweetness t combat the bitterness.
- Cocoa Powder - The chocolate hit needed to turn this espresso cream into mocha cream.
- Espresso Powder - Use espresso so that it can be added directly into the cream and will dissolve whilst being mixed. If using coffee granules, then dissolve them in a teaspoon or two of boiling water. Let the coffee cool before adding it to whipped cream and mixing it through.
- Dark Chocolate - I love the bitter notes of 70% dark chocolate as it sits beautifully alongside the espresso flavour. If you would prefer to use milk chocolate, then go for it!
- Butter - A teaspoon of butter to add a beautiful shine to the set chocolate.
- Espresso powder - this is an optional addition - I love a punchy flavour and so I added more coffee to the chocolate. The bitterness of the coffee does intensify the bitterness of the dark chocolate. For those that prefer more sweetness, then stir through a tablespoon of golden syrup or honey to the melted chocolate.
Choux pastry or pâte a choux can be really intimidating to make. But follow along as I guide you through, showing you the areas to take particular note, so that you can master them like a professional French pastry chef.
*Be sure to see the recipe card below for the full ingredients list & instructions!*
The dough for cream puffs can be quite tricky to master as we rely on visual cues and the feel of the dough to know it has reached the right consistency. I’ve included plenty of images to guide you through this process so that you can master these beauties too. This is the best recipe for cream puffs!
1. Preheat the oven & bring butter and water to a boil. Preheat the oven to 200°C (390°F) In a saucepan, add the water, butter, sugar, and salt, and bring to a boil over medium-low heat. Stir until butter and sugar have melted, and the mixture is bubbling. (Image 1 & 2)
2. Add flour. Remove the pan from the heat, then add the flour into the saucepan and, using a wooden spoon, mix together vigorously. Return to the heat and beat the mixture for 4 minutes until a ball forms and a film shows on the bottom of the pan. (Image 3 & 4)
TIP: Beating for long enough will allow the flour to be cooked out but also for some of the moisture from the butter and water to evaporate, thus dehydrating the dough, which helps get the rise in the oven.
3. Beat to release the steam. Add the mixture from the saucepan into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat for 1-minute on low or until you don’t see any more steam coming out of the bowl. We need to cool the mixture down before adding the eggs otherwise, they’ll scramble. (Image 5 & 6)
4. Beat in eggs. With the mixer on medium speed, gradually pour in the eggs and mix. (Image 7). It’ll look curdled (image 8) but keep going, and it will come together.
TIP: Don't add all the eggs at once. Add them in gradually. I suggest adding up to ¾ of 4 whisked eggs and then beating for up to two minutes to see how the mixture comes together. You can always add in a bit more egg but if you add in too much, there's no going back.
The consistency. This is one of those doughs where you must rely on visual cues to know when it's ready. There are a couple of telltale signs.
- Firstly when mixed, the dough has to be smooth, shiny and thick enough to hold its shape when piped. (Image 9)
- Secondly, when the beaters are lifted out of the dough, a V shape forms as the dough drops off. (Image 10)
TIP: If the batter isn't of the right consistency, then add a little more of the whisked egg. In the ingredients list, I have listed a 5th egg. You'll probably only need a little of it, but how long you cook out the butter and water in the saucepan, the gluten in the flour, the size of your eggs, all contribute to how much egg you'll need. Set aside any remaining for egg wash later.
5. Pipe choux onto baking trays. Scoop dough into a piping bag fitted with 1.3cm (½ inch) plain nozzle, and pipe rounds on a parchment paper-lined baking tray. Ensure you hold the piping bag vertically upright - otherwise, you’ll have wonky, odd-shaped buns! (Image 11)
Brush the parchment paper with water around the buns. This produces more steam in the oven providing extra lift for the buns to puff up. (Image 12)
6. Prep choux on the tray. With a wet finger, smooth down the points of the buns. This will prevent them from burning in the oven (Image 13)
With the remaining whisked egg, add the milk and brush egg wash onto the buns.(Image 14)
7. Bake: Bake in the oven for ten minutes before turning the oven down to 180C (350F) and continue to bake for 25-30 minutes or until buns are golden brown and crisp. Do NOT open the oven before this point, as releasing the steam from the oven will cause the buns to deflate.
With a skewer, make holes in the bottom of each bun (Image 15) then return the tray to the oven for 5 minutes. (Image 16) Place buns on a wire rack and allow to cool.
TIP: By making the holes in the buns, you allow the steam and heat to release from within the bun cavity. The extra five minutes in the oven allows the shell to crisp further and dries out the inside.
Make the filling and topping
8. Whip espresso cream. Add the cream into the bowl of a stand mixer, then sift in the powdered icing sugar, cocoa powder and espresso powder. I'm all about saving on washing up, so sift these right over the cream! Whisk on medium until soft peaks form. Fill a piping bag fitted with a small piping tip. (Image 17 & 18)
9. Melt the dark chocolate. Add the chocolate, butter and espresso powder to a bowl set over a saucepan of boiling water. Ensure the bowl doesn't touch the water; otherwise, the chocolate will freeze. Stir the chocolate until it has fully melted and combined with the butter and espresso powder.
10. Fill and decorate choux buns. Push the piping tip through the hole you made to release steam and fill the choux bun with espresso cream. You'll know when it's filled up as it will feel heavier in your hand, and a bit of cream will ooze out of the top. You'll know it's full at this point.
Dip the top of each filled choux bun into the melted chocolate, letting any excess drip off. Then set aside for the chocolate to set. Place profiteroles into a circle, piling them onto one another, making your profiteroles wreath. I sprinkled some gold star sprinkles over the top and added some holly as a festive touch.
- For the filling - The profiteroles can be filled with lots of different fillings. Try creme patissiere, crème diplomate, creme chantilly or even cut the choux bun in half and add a scoop of ice cream into the centre.
- For the topping - Switch out the dark chocolate with milk chocolate or do a combination of both. You could also dip the profiteroles into caramel for another delicious take.
- Choux bun size and yield - These made approximately 25 good-sized choux buns (about 5 cm / 2 inches wide). You could pipe a lot of of small ones and increase the quantity to bite-sized profiteroles.
Recipe pro tips
- Weigh your ingredients. Use digital scales for an accurate measurement. This is imperative for this type of recipe
- Add eggs in gradually. Everyone will use a slightly different amount of eggs due to the factors I’ve listed in the post. Adding the eggs in bit by bit will keep you in control of the consistency of the dough. Just remember: Too little egg = you can add more. Too much egg = dough is ruined.
- Hold the piping bag upright. When piping the buns, hold the bag upright to make the buns as round as possible.
- Don't open the oven. The moisture in the dough and the water droplets on the parchment paper aid in lifting the dough up, and the oven's heat then sets it in place, creating the puffed-up balls. If you let the steam out of the oven too early, you’ll have flat buns.
Frequently asked questions
Either the moisture wasn’t absorbed sufficiently when the flour was added to the saucepan and cooked for long enough. Or too much egg was added to the dough.
The oven may not have been hot enough when the choux balls went in. Or the oven door was opened before the balls had a chance to rise and then set in that position.
Typically a cream puff is filled with vanilla pastry cream or whipped cream, as in our recipe today. Profiteroles, on the other hand, are filled with ice cream and dipped in chocolate ganache.
How to store and freeze
To Store: Once filled, Cherry Cream Puffs are best eaten within a few hours. Store unfilled cream puff shells in an airtight container for up to 2 days in the refrigerator. Re-crisp the shells in a hot oven for 5 minutes.
Filled profiteroles can be stored in an airtight container and refrigerated for 2-3 days. Note that the moisture of the cream may make the bottom slightly softer.
To Freeze: Cream puff shells can be frozen in a freezer-safe container for up to 2 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight and re-crips in a hot oven for 5 minutes.
Equipment you’ll need
- Digital Scales: I strongly recommend measuring out your ingredients by weight- choux pastry requires real accuracy to ensure success.
- Saucepan: To create the initial mixture and hydrate the flour whilst cooking it out, much like when making a roux.
- Stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment: I find it easier to use my stand mixer. But feel free to use an electric handheld mixer or whisk by hand.
- Piping bag fitted with a round nozzle: For creating those perfect choux pastry mounds on the baking tray.
More delicious recipes you may like
If you tried this Mocha Profiteroles Recipe or any other recipe on my website, please let me know how you go in the comments below. I love hearing from you. Also, please leave a star rating whilst you're there!
This post was originally published in December 2019 but has been updated with new photos, new content and a revised recipe.
Mocha Profiteroles Wreath Recipe
For choux pastry
- 240 ml water
- 120 g unsalted butter
- 8 g granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon fine salt
- 130 g plain flour (all-purpose)
- 220 g large eggs (approx 4), at room temperature, plus 1 extra
- 700 ml double cream (heavy cream)
- 70 g powdered icing sugar (confectioners’ sugar)
- 30 g cocoa powder, chopped
- 7 g espresso powder
- 150 g dark chocolate 70%
- 1 teaspoon espresso powder
- 1 teaspoon unsalted butter
- gold star sprinkles (optional!)
- Preheat the oven to 200°C (390°F). In a medium saucepan, add the water, butter, sugar and salt, and bring to a boil over medium-low heat, melting the butter and dissolving the sugar.
- Add flour. Remove the pan from the heat and add the flour immediately. With a wooden spoon, beat vigorously until completely combined, and then return to the heat for 2 minutes and continue to beat until the mixture comes away from the sides of the pan and forms a ball. You’ll see a film form on the base of your saucepan, and you’ll know it’s ready.
- Beat to release steam. Remove the mixture from the heat and place it in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat for 1 minute on low speed to release some steam. Stop when you don't see anymore steam coming out of the bowl and the mixture has cooled slightly. In a small bowl, whisk 4 eggs together.
- Beat in eggs. Increase the speed to medium and add ¾ of the whisked eggs a little at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl halfway through. It may look curdled to start with but will come together as you beat the mixture. Once the eggs have been fully incorporated, beat the mixture for a further 2 minutes.Note. The perfect consistency. The choux pastry should be smooth and shiny and should hold its shape when piped. Another sign that the batter is ready is when the beater or a rubber spatula is pulled up and a thick V-shaped ribbon forms, of smooth dropping consistency. If your pastry has not achieved this consistency, add the remaining egg and test the consistency again. If you need more egg, then whisk the 5th egg in a small bowl, and add a tiny bit at a time. Stop adding the egg as soon as you get the right consistency. I doubt that you'll need all this egg. Set aside any remaining egg for egg wash.
- Pipe choux onto the baking tray. Spoon the choux pastry dough into a piping bag fitted with a 1.3cm (½ inch) plain round nozzle. (You can also use a zip lock bag with the corner cut off for piping.) Line a large baking tray with parchment paper. Whilst holding the piping bag upright and keeping the tip of the piping tip touching the choux pastry, pipe 12 5cm (2-inch) wide mounds onto the prepared tray. Keep them 2.5cm (1-inch) apart. Using a pastry brush dipped in water, brush the parchment paper around the mounds. The water creates steam in the oven, which helps puff up the choux.
- Prep choux on the tray. Using the tip of your finger dipped in water, smooth the points of each mound. This stops the peaks from burning in the oven. Add milk into the remaining egg and whisk together. Brush this egg wash gently over the top of the choux pastry mounds.
- Bake. Place the tray in the oven and bake for 10 minutes before lowering the oven temperature to 180°C (350°F) and continue to bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden brown and crisp. Skewer a hole in the bottom of each choux bun to allow the steam to escape. Return to the oven for 5 to 10 minutes, and then remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Whip cream. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, add the cream, powdered icing sugar, cocoa powder, espresso powder and salt and whisk until soft peaks form. Scoop into a piping bag fitted with a small round piping tip. (Alternatively use an electric handheld mixer or whisk by hand)
To assemble and decorate
- Melt the dark chocolate. Add the chocolate, butter and espresso powder to a bowl set over a saucepan of boiling water. Ensure the bowl doesn't touch the water, otherwise, the chocolate will freeze. Stir the chocolate until it has fully melted and combined with the butter and espresso powder.
- Fill and decorate choux buns. Push the piping tip through the hole you made to release steam and fill the choux bun with espresso cream. You'll know when it's filled up as it will feel heavier in your hand and a bit of cream will ooze out of the hole. Dip the top of each filled choux bun into the melted chocolate, letting any excess drip off. Then set aside for the chocolate to set. Place profiteroles into a circle, piling them onto one another. Sprinkle some gold star sprinkles over the top as a festive touch.
All recipes are developed and tested in Metric grams. I strongly recommend that you bake using digital scales for a more accurate result. I have provided a conversion to US customary in the recipe but please note that I haven’t tested using this method.