This classic French dessert looks like it takes all day to make, but you can prepare the pastry and chocolate sauce ahead and just buy the ice cream if you want. From there, the profiteroles take just a few minutes to assemble before serving. To start, make the eggy, buttery pâte à choux dough, pipe out the puffs, and bake until golden. Then whisk together a bittersweet chocolate sauce until glossy and smooth. When it’s time for dessert, slice the puffs in half, fill with scoops of vanilla ice cream, and drizzle with the sauce.
Game plan: You can freeze the uncooked pastry puffs for up to 2 months. Just pipe the dough onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, freeze until solid, and transfer to a resealable bag. The frozen puffs should be baked straight from the freezer, but they may need a few extra minutes in the oven.
For the puffs:
8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), cut into 8 pieces
Heat the oven to 425°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set it aside.
Heat the butter, milk, measured water, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat until the butter has melted and the liquid has come to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, add the flour all at once, and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until well incorporated. Cook, stirring constantly, until the dough looks shiny and feels smooth to the touch, and a thin film has formed on the bottom of the pan, about 5 minutes. (The dough will easily form 1 large ball.)
Transfer the dough to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and let it cool for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, fill a small bowl with water and set it aside.
With the mixer on medium-low speed, beat in the eggs 1 at a time, letting each egg completely incorporate before adding the next, until the mixture is smooth, sticky, and glossy, about 4 to 5 minutes total.
Transfer the dough to a large resealable bag and cut off about 3/4 inch from one corner of the bag. Pipe 12 (2-inch-wide) round mounds onto the prepared baking sheet, making sure they’re about 1 1/2 inches apart. Dip your finger in the bowl of water and smooth the top of each mound.
Place the baking sheet in the oven, reduce the temperature to 350°F, and bake until the puffs are golden brown, airy, and completely dry inside, about 45 to 50 minutes. (Don’t open the oven door until at least 45 minutes have passed.) Transfer the baking sheet to a wire rack and let the puffs cool completely, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, make the chocolate sauce.
For the chocolate sauce:
Combine the cream, milk, water, cocoa powder, corn syrup, and salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, whisking until the cocoa powder has completely dissolved.
Remove from the heat and add the chocolate, butter, and vanilla. Stir until the chocolate has melted and the sauce is smooth; set aside.
When ready to serve, cut the cooled puffs in half horizontally. Place a scoop of ice cream in the bottom half of each puff. Replace the tops and drizzle with the desired amount of chocolate sauce. Serve immediately.