To create choux pastry, butter, flour and water are "cooked" together in a saucepan.
The resulting paste is cooled and then the eggs are beaten in, one at a time. It is advisable not to add the final, fourth egg all in one go, but rather whisk it separately and add it gradually, in case you don't need it all. If too much liquid, ie beaten egg, is added to the choux pastry, the resulting profiteroles will not puff up quite so pertly and will be somewhat flatter when baked.
Makes around 30.
For the choux pastry, you will need:
110g (4oz) flour
65g (2½oz) butter, cut into lumps
150ml (¼ pint) water
4 fresh eggs
A few drops vanilla essence
Sieve the flour on to a piece of paper. Put the lumps of butter into a saucepan with the water. Bring to the boil. Immediately add all the flour. Stir this stiff mixture over a gentle heat for about three minutes, without allowing it to change colour, to cook the flour. Take the mixture off heat and allow to cool.
Add three of the fresh eggs one at a time, beating the mixture until smooth after each one. I use an electric hand mixer for this. Add the vanilla essence. Break the fourth egg into a cup and whisk with a fork. Add gradually to the choux-pastry mix, beating after each addition until the correct consistency is achieved: soft but stiff. Judge this by placing the back of a spoon on to the surface of the pastry. Lift it off with a quick jerk so that the pastry underneath stands up in a little peak; it should not flop sideways. The idea is to add as much of the egg as you can, but not too much.
If you find that you have added too much, tough luck; you can't do anything about it — just remember for the next time.
Preheat the oven to 200°C, 400°F, Gas 6. Lightly grease a few baking tins. Using two teaspoons, put round blobs of the prepared choux pastry on to the greased tins, leaving room for expansion between them. If preferred, put the choux pastry into a piping bag with a plain, round nozzle and pipe out small blobs. When you have piped out enough for one, use a quick flick of your wrist to lift off the bag and pipe, as it can be hard to disengage without dragging the pastry with you.
Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes until well risen, puffed and crisp. Don't open the oven door for the first 10 minutes of baking, otherwise the pastry will collapse. When baked, cut a little slit or hole in the side of each puff to release the steam.
Return them to the oven for about five minutes to dry them out; this makes them nice and crisp. Cool on a wire tray.
For the filling, you will need:
200ml (7fl oz) cream
Caster sugar (optional)
An hour before serving, whip the cream and sweeten with the caster sugar, if you are using. Fill the centre of the little choux puffs. Just before serving, pile up the profiteroles and pour chocolate sauce over them.