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Baking Recipe Tom Aitken's Profiteroles - December 23/January 24

There is something so contradictory about profiteroles that they keep me coming back for more. There is the sweetness of the chocolate against the plain cream; the dryness of the pastry against the moisture that spills from the middle; and a solitary, innocent-looking ball that ends up being filling and extroverted.

What I love most about profiteroles is the fact they’re easy to make yet considered luxurious and even slightly opulent; so here’s a recipe that, in a similar way, is simple, yet sensational!

Serves 4

  • 80g unsalted butter
  • 25g sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 150g plain flour, sifted
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 handfuls of chopped almonds, to serve

For the crème Chantilly

  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 250ml whipping cream
  • 40g caster sugar
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract

For the chocolate sauce

  • 50g unsalted butter
  • 250ml double cream
  • 180g sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 100g cocoa powder
  • 50g dark chocolate

1   Put the butter, sugar and salt for the profiteroles in a pan with 250ml of water and bring to a simmer. Add the sifted flour and stir for a good 5 minutes over a low to medium heat, until the paste comes away from the pan.

2   Transfer this immediately to a food mixer or processor with a beater attachment. Add the eggs, one by one, and beat to a smooth, shiny paste. Put this in a bowl, cover with clingfilm and leave to cool.

3   Preheat the oven to 190°C/gas mark 5. Spoon the choux paste into a piping bag with a plain nozzle and pipe 2.5cm blobs onto a baking tin. Each one should stand up nice and high and you should get roughly 30 profiteroles in total. Bake for about 15 minutes until golden in colour. Pierce each one to let out the steam and cool on a wire rack before filling.

4   To make the crème Chantilly, add the vanilla seeds, scraped from the pod, to the whipping cream along with the caster sugar and vanilla extract and whip until firm. Pipe into the choux buns.

5   To make the chocolate sauce, put the butter, double cream, sugar and vanilla extract into a pan and bring to a simmer. Add the cocoa powder and whisk while continuing to cook for 5 minutes at a slow simmer. Break up the dark chocolate and put it into a bowl. Pour over the hot chocolate mixture and stir until the dark chocolate has melted, then pass the sauce through a fine sieve.

6   Drizzle the choux buns with warm chocolate sauce and sprinkle with the chopped almonds.