Learn How To Make Profiteroles, an iconic dessert loved globally. Choux pastry is baked into crisp choux puffs, filled with sweet vanilla ice cream and drizzled in a rich warm chocolate sauce. This nostalgic dessert is eye-catching and delicious, making it perfect for entertaining and any special occasion.
Profiteroles must be one of the most iconic desserts you can think of to come out of France. It's a retro, timeless classic that continues in popularity. I adore the combination of crisp choux bun, the warm chocolate sauce and the cold vanilla ice cream as a contrast.
Don't be intimidated by this; with only three components, one of which is store-bought, follow along so I can show you everything you need to know. This recipe for profiteroles is fabulous and before you know it, you'll be chef kissing the air and saying Vive La France!
What are profiteroles?
What exactly are profiteroles, though? Profiteroles are small choux buns made from pâte à choux (choux pastry). The pastry is piped into small mounds and baked until they form tall, hollow balls.
Baked a second time to dry out, the choux puffs are filled with either ice cream, whipped cream or pastry cream.
Once filled, the choux buns are decorated with a warm chocolate sauce, caramel or a dusting of powdered icing sugar.
Known as one of France's most cherished desserts, choux pastry actually originated in Italy. However, when Catherine Medici came to France to marry Henry II, she also brought over choux pastry.
It wasn't until famed chef Antoine Carème evolved and perfected the recipe and created a tower of caramel-dipped profiteroles called croquembouche that they became popular.
Some believe that traditional profiteroles should be filled with sweetened whipped cream (crème chantilly) or pastry cream (crème pâtissiere), whilst others prefer vanilla ice cream. Vanilla ice cream and pastry cream are the most common fillings in France, whereas sweetened cream is used more commonly in the States.
For me, though, choux buns filled with cream are called cream puffs (choux à la crème), just like my Cherry Cream Puffs. I've had all three filling variations, and I guess it comes down to personal taste and to what your preference is.
From desserts enjoyed in brasseries in the South of France, I love the combination of melting vanilla bean flecked ice cream, surrounded by crisp choux pastry and topped with rich, warm chocolate sauce. The trio together is absolutely heavenly! So that's the version I'm sharing with you today, and I can't wait!
You'll love my Chouquettes recipes if you love making and enjoying choux pastry.
Why you'll love this profiteroles recipe
- Uses basic ingredients. All the ingredients are basic pantry or fridge staples. There are no surprises here.
- Family favourite. All generations love profiteroles. If you present this incredible dessert, you'll be a star for old and young alike!
- Great make-ahead dessert. The choux puffs and chocolate sauce can be made in advance. The buns can be re-crisped in the oven before serving, and the sauce warmed through. Easy to assemble, these take the stress out of entertaining.
- Versatile flavouring. Fill the choux buns with whatever flavour ice cream you fancy and top with other sauces such as caramel sauce, butterscotch or a fruit coulis. It may not be a classic profiterole, but it makes a fun variation!
Whilst the ingredient list is small, when it comes to making choux pastry, each one plays an important role. Let's dive into these specific ingredients.
- Water - Milk and water can be used equally when making choux pastry. I've used only water, though, as the result is a crispier bun which works well alongside the ice cream filling. Without the milk, the buns take a little longer to turn golden brown in the oven.
- Sugar and salt - You can opt for granulated or caster sugar. The sugar adds a gentle sweetness, and the salt seasons the dough. Both add flavour, preventing the choux buns from tasting bland.
- Flour - Plain flour (all-purpose) flour is best. Make sure to sift it before, as this helps produce a lump-free choux dough.
- Butter - I prefer unsalted butter as you can control the amount of salt added. If you use salted butter, omit the extra salt in the recipe. You can also use brown butter too for an additional nuttier flavour.
- Eggs - Use large eggs. I recommend 4 in the recipe but have an extra egg available. You may not need it or use it only a little, but you should always have it on hand.
- Chocolate - 70% dark chocolate is the perfect choice to make the chocolate sauce with. Rich and decadent without being overly bitter. A touch of golden syrup adds sweetness to the sauce. You can use honey as an alternative.
- Vanilla ice cream - By the best quality vanilla ice cream, you can. With no other flavourings to hide behind, it's worth it.
How to make profiteroles
Profiteroles comprise three components; choux buns, ice cream and chocolate sauce.
Choux pastry has a reputation for being tricky, but through my Choux Pastry Recipe, you'll see that once you know certain nuances, it's easier to make than you think. My biggest tip is to read through this post and the recipe before starting. Also, check out my guide on How To Make Choux Pastry for even more hints and tips.
In this recipe, we use store-bought vanilla ice cream. However, if you prefer to make your own, you have two options:
- No-Churn Vanilla Ice Cream: Use the ice cream base from my Praline Pecan Ice Cream, but omit the caramel and pecan pieces. This ice cream takes just minutes to make.
- Traditional Vanilla Ice-Cream (Gelato): Use the ice cream from my Crème Brûlée Ice Cream recipe, omitting the caramel pieces. There is nothing quite like the taste of traditional ice cream!
The chocolate sauce is super quick and easy to make. It's just a simple ganache made of chocolate and heavy cream with butter and golden syrup for shine and sweetness.
*Be sure to see the recipe card below for the full ingredients list & instructions!*
How to make the profiterole pastry
The first step is to make the panade. This is basically the mixture of water, butter, sugar, salt and flour mixed together and heated.
1. Melt mixture, then boil. This is done by heating the milk and water on low heat to melt the butter and dissolve the sugar and salt (Image 1). Once fully melted, the heat is turned up until the mixture is at a rolling boil (Image 2).
2. Add flour and form a dough. From there, turn off the heat, add the flour to the saucepan in one go and mix it vigorously (Image 3).
Placed back onto the stove top, the dough is 'cooked' to dry it out by causing the water to evaporate. This is done by 'beating' it in the pan for a couple of minutes until the dough forms a ball and a thin starchy film forms on the bottom of the pan (Image 4).
3. Beat to release the steam. The panade needs to be cooled down so that when the eggs are added in, they don't instantly scramble. The fastest way to do this is to add the dough to the bowl of a stand mixer and beat it for the steam to release (Image 5). It's a quick process that only takes one minute.
Whilst the dough is cooling, whisk the four eggs in a jug (Image 6). This allows you to control how much egg is poured into the panade in the next step. The dough may not need it all, or it may need some of the 5th egg that's set aside.
4. Beat the eggs into the panade. With the mixer running on low speed, pour in ¾ of the eggs slowly, in 3 separate additions, mixing for 30 seconds with each addition (Image 7). Add the eggs in too quickly, and you'll have runny eggs and bits of panade floating around! Not the outcome we need! A smooth and shiny dough is what we want (Image 8).
TIP: The perfect 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. It needs to be thick enough to hold its shape when piped.
- When perfect, the dough is smooth and thick in texture and shiny in appearance (Image 9).
- When the beaters are lifted, the dough should reluctantly fall off, creating a V shape (Image 10).
How to pipe and bake profiteroles
1. Fill the piping bag. Fit a 1.3cm (½ inch) plain nozzle or Wilton 1A piping tip into the bag, then fold the tip up and pop the piping bag into a glass (Image 11). The top of the bag will overhang, which is not a problem. Scoop the choux batter into the bag until full and twist the opening to close.
2. Refrigerate the dough and preheat the oven to 200°C (390°F). Refrigerate the dough whilst the oven comes to temperate. Once the oven is at temperature, move on to the next step of piping and baking.
3. Pipe the choux dough onto a parchment paper-lined baking tray. Ensure you hold the piping bag vertically upright - otherwise, you’ll have wonky, odd-shaped buns! (Image 12). Pipe 1-inches wide mounds about 2 inches apart.
Pipe a small amount of choux paste under each corner of parchment paper (the dough acts as glue and keeps the paper in place as you pipe).
I trace circles with a pencil around a 1-inch cookie cutter (or any similar round object onto a piece of parchment paper. I slide it under the parchment paper on the tray to use it as a guide. It helps get even-sized choux buns.
4. Prep choux on the tray.
- 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 13).
- With a wet finger, smooth down the points of the choux buns. This will prevent them from burning in the oven (Images 14).
- Add the milk to the remaining whisked egg and mix. Brush egg wash onto the buns. This gives a glossy sheen to the finished pastry and helps deepen the golden colour (Image 15).
5. Bake: Place the baking tray in the oven, reduce the temp to 180C (350F) and bake for 25 minutes until the chouquettes are golden brown and crisp. Do NOT open the oven for the first 25 minutes whilst the choux are baking.
Poke a hole in the base of the chouquettes and pop them back in the oven for a further 10 minutes. They can cool fully on the tray (Images 16 & 17).
Why do you double bake the pastry for profiteroles?
Double baking the choux buns is one of my most important tips for crisp round choux buns that shouldn't be overlooked.
The Problem: During the first bake, the choux pastry puffs up due to the hot air and steam created from the moisture in the eggs and the water brushed onto the baking paper. The puffed-up dough then sets in place and cooks into this hollow puff. Even if the exterior of the puff is crisp, the interior is still soft and custard-like, with steam trapped within the puff.
When you remove the buns from the oven, the combination of an undercooked interior and steam will soften the puffs and cause them to go soggy.
The Fix: By creating a small hole or slit in the base of the choux bun, the trapped steam is released from the choux puff. The heat from the second bake can then dry out the interior of the puff so that once removed from the oven and cooled, the result is a crisp, set bun.
How to make the chocolate sauce for profiteroles
Making a ganache couldn't be any easier. It's rich and decadent, and you'll hope there's some left over at the end to dunk a cookie into. The chocolate sauce is pourable when warm, and as it cools stiffens but doesn't go rock solid.
1. Heat the milk. Add the milk and heat in a small saucepan until it's simmering around the edges. Don't let it boil.
2. Pour over chocolate. Pour the hot milk over the chopped chocolate, butter and golden syrup (Image 18). Let it sit for a minute, and then stir until the chocolate is fully melted and all ingredients are combined (Images 19 & 20). The ganache will a smooth, shiny and pourable.
Assemble the profiteroles
Assemble the profiteroles in three easy steps. Technically, the three separate components can be made ahead of time, but I don't recommend assembling them until just before serving. The ice cream will melt, and the choux buns will lose their signature crisp.
- Slice choux buns. Once the choux buns have cooled fully, slice them in half with a serrated knife (Image 21).
- Scoop in ice cream. Into the bottom half of the choux bun, add a scoop of ice cream (Image 22). Top with the choux bun top.
- Decorate with chocolate sauce. The best part! Spoon or pour the chocolate sauce over the top of each choux bun and serve immediately (Image 23).
Recipe pro tips
- Read the recipe before starting. Sounds silly to state, but I recommend doing this so that you're armed to the max with knowledge!
- Sift in the flour to avoid lumpy panade.
- Make sure the panade has cooled sufficiently before adding in the eggs.
- Get the right consistency with the dough before moving on to the next step. You want to achieve that 'V' shape when the beaters are lifted out.
- Don't open the oven door on the first bake. You'll end up with deflated buns otherwise.
- Pre-scoop the ice cream onto a lined baking tray and freeze before serving. That will make assembling the profiteroles quick and breezy!
- Cut the choux buns with a serrated knife for a clean finish.
- If the chocolate sauce has thickened too much as the sauce has cooled, blast in the microwave for 15 seconds to loosen. Or stir through a couple of tablespoons of warm milk to thin it out.
What to fill the profiteroles with
As mentioned, the three common profiteroles fillings are vanilla ice cream, whipped cream and vanilla pastry cream. My Chantilly Cream makes a beautiful cream for profiteroles. Each of these fillings is unbelievably delicious in its own right, but other flavourful variations may spark your imagination.
- Coffee Chocolate Profiteroles: Fill the choux buns with coffee-flavoured pastry cream and cover in a chocolate sauce. This is a popular flavour for éclairs in France.
- Salted Caramel Cream Profiteroles: Swirl cooled homemade Salted Caramel Sauce through whipped cream to fill your choux buns. Drizzle extra sauce over the top and sprinkle with a little flaked sea salt.
- Raspberry Chocolate Ice Cream Profiteroles: Scoop Raspberry Chocolate Ice Cream into each bun and top with a Chocolate Sauce and a fresh raspberry. These are super cute and delicious too.
- Blackberry Mascarpone Cheese Profiteroles: Whipped mascarpone cheese and cream swirled through with homemade blackberry jam makes for a fun variation.
As you can see, the possibilities for what you can fill and top the choux buns with are endless. Don't forget about chopped fresh berries or stone fruit and your favourite fruit curds, compôtes and jams. Any of these additions would make a sensational profiteroles dessert.
FAQ's and Troubleshooting
The most common problems are that the buns don't rise; they are soggy or deflated. These problems can occur because the dough is too runny, the eggs weren't mixed in properly, or the buns weren't cooked for long enough and given the second bake.
Cause for soft/flat buns: Too much egg may have been added into the dough, making it too runny. Or the oven door was opened too soon during baking, or the pastry shells were not baked for long enough
The Fix: Monitor the amount of egg added to the panade more carefully. Don't open the oven door for the first 25 minutes of baking.
Cause for deflated buns: Not enough moisture was cooked out of the panade in the first step. The dough was too runny before piping and baking. The oven door was opened during baking, letting out the much-needed steam. The pastry wasn't baked for long enough to allow the puffed dough to set.
The Fix: Cook the panade on the stovetop for a little longer and monitor the amount of egg added to the panade more carefully. Check your oven temperature is accurate, don't open the oven door for the first 25 minutes of baking and check your baking time.
The choux buns should be crispy on the exterior for the ultimate profiteroles. They should never be soggy!
Cream puffs are filled with cream or pastry cream, whereas profiteroles can be filled with any sweet or savoury filling. Cheese profiteroles make a delicious party appetizer!
I don't recommend assembling the profiteroles until just before serving as the ice cream will melt, and the choux buns will lose their crispiness.
That said, the choux buns and chocolate sauce can be made the day before and stored. Just before serving, re-crisp the buns in a hot oven for five minutes, and warm the sauce through.
How to store and freeze
To store: Store unfilled choux pastry shells in an airtight container for up to 2 days at room temperature or in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Re-crisp the shells in a hot oven for 5 minutes.
Store any leftover chocolate sauce in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
To freeze: FreezeuUnfilled choux pastry shells in a freezer-safe container for up to 2 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight and re-crisp in a hot oven for 5 minutes.
Equipment you’ll need
- Digital Scales: an absolute must for a precise and accurate way to measure out your ingredients.
- Heavy-based saucepan: Needed to make the panade (flour paste) in as the first part of the process.
- Wooden Spoon: Used to beat the flour into the butter mixture in the saucepan. Alternatively, use a rubber spatula.
- Stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment: You can use hand-held electric beaters too, or even do it by hand, but if your stand mixer is at the ready, then this is the quickest and easiest option.
- Piping bag: You can choose to use a reusable or a disposable piping bag. My preference is a 16Inch piping bag (even though I did use a much smaller one for the photos as my piping bags are a bright blue and wouldn't have looked great in the images!!)
- Piping Tips: Use a 1.3cm (½ inch) plain nozzle or Wilton 1A piping tip to pipe out the choux buns. At a pinch, fill a seal
- Ice Cream Scoop: The easiest way to scoop out the ice cream to fill the profiteroles. A dessert spoon dipped in hot water will also work.
I truly hope that you love this dessert. It really is the epitome of French indulgence, and rightly so, as it ticks all the right boxes! Profiteroles recipe is a favourite treat here in the UK, and I know you'll love them wherever you are in the world.
More classic French recipes you'll love
If you tried this French 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!
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Classic Profiteroles Recipe
- Ice cream scoop
- 240 ml water
- 120 g unsalted butter, cubed into small pieces
- 15 g granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon fine salt
- 130 g plain flour (all-purpose), sifted
- 220 g large eggs (4 eggs, but have 1 extra on hand), 4 to 5 eggs
- 1 teaspoon whole milk, for egg wash
- 1 tub vanilla ice cream
- 180 g dark chocolate 70%, finely chopped
- 120 ml double (heavy) cream
- 15 g unsalted butter
- 15 g golden syrup (alternative), or honey as an alternative
Make the panade
- Melt butter and heat water and milk. In a medium saucepan, add the water, milk, butter, sugar and salt, and heat on low until the butter is melted and the sugar has dissolved. Increase the heat to medium to high and bring to a rolling boil.
- Add flour. Remove the pan from the heat and add the flour immediately. With a wooden spoon, mix vigorously until completely combined.Then return to medium-high heat and beat for 2 minutes 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. (Use a digital thermometer for accuracy- the panade should be between 75°C to 80°C (165°F and 175°F)
- Beat to release steam. Remove the pan 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. Use a digital thermometer for accuracy- the panade should get to 60°C (140°F) or under before continuing with the next step.In a small jug, whisk the four eggs together.
Add the eggs to make the choux dough
- Please read this step before continuing as the amount of egg added can vary.With the mixer running on low speed, slowly pour in ¾ of the whisked eggs in 3 to 4 separate additions, mixing for 30 seconds between each addition. Scrape the sides and base of the bowl halfway through. It may look curdled and slimy 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 on the perfect consistency. The choux pastry should be smooth and shiny and should hold its shape when a finger is passed through the mixture. Another sign that the batter is ready is when the beater or a rubber spatula is pulled up out of the batter and a thick V-shaped ribbon forms, of smooth dropping consistency. If your pastry has not achieved this consistency, add the remaining egg a teaspoon at a time 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 to be used as egg wash.
Chill, pipe and bake
- Chill the dough. Preheat the oven to 200°C (390°F). Fill a piping bag fitted with a round piping tip and close the open end of the piping bag and refrigerate for 30 minutes Preheat the oven to 200°C (390°F).Pipe choux onto the baking tray. 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 3cm (1-inch) wide mounds onto the prepared tray. Keep them 5cm (1.5-inches) apart.
- Prep choux on the tray. 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.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 to 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 immediately reduce it to 180°C (350°F) and bake for 25 minutes until golden brown and crisp. You mustn't open the oven door in these first 25 minutes of baking. Remove the choux buns from the oven and skew a hole in each choux bun's bottom to allow the steam to escape. Return to the oven for 10 more minutes, and then allow to cool completely on the baking tray.
- Make the chocolate sauce. Heat the cream in a small saucepan over medium heat until the cream is simmering around the edges, don't let it boil. Pour the hot cream over the chopped chocolate, butter and golden syrup in a medium-sized bowl. Let it stand for 5 minutes, and then stir until the chocolate is fully melted and all the ingredients combined. Set aside until ready to use.Note: as the chocolate sauce cools, it will thicken. Heat for 10-20 seconds in the microwave to loosen. Alternatively, if you'd like a thinner consistency, add a tablespoon or two of warm milk and stir to combine.
- To assemble profiteroles. Slice choux buns in half with a serrated knife. Add a scoop of vanilla ice cream to the bottom half of the choux bun. Place bun top over the ice cream and pour or spoon chocolate sauce over. Serve immediately.
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.