Serves: Makes 30
Dietary guidance: v
For the choux buns:
2½ oz (60 g) strong plain flour
1 level teaspoon caster sugar
2 oz (50 g) butter, cut into small pieces
2 large eggs, well beaten
For the filling:
½ pint (275 ml) double cream, whipped thick
For the chocolate sauce:
½ lb (225 g) plain chocolate
Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 6, 400°F (200°C)
You will also need a solid baking sheet, lightly greased, and some baking parchment (silicone paper).
First of all, as you are going to need to 'shoot' the flour quickly into the water and melted butter, fold a sheet of baking parchment (silicone paper) to make a crease, then open it up again. Sift the flour straight on to the square of parchment and add the sugar.
Next, put 5 fl oz (150 ml) of cold water in a medium-sized saucepan together with the pieces of butter, then place the saucepan over a moderate heat and stir with a wooden spoon. As soon as the butter has melted and the mixture comes up to the boil, turn off the heat immediately, as too much boiling will evaporate some of the water. Then tip in the flour â€“ all in one go â€“ with one hand, while you beat the mixture vigorously with the other. You can do this with a wooden spoon, although an electric hand whisk will save you lots of energy.
Beat until you have a smooth ball of paste that has left the sides of the saucepan clean â€“ this will probably take less than a minute. Then beat in the beaten eggs â€“ a little at a time, mixing in each addition thoroughly before adding the next â€“ until you have a smooth, glossy paste.
At this stage, hold the greased baking sheet under cold running water for a few seconds, and tap it sharply to get rid of excess moisture. This will help create a steamier atmosphere, which in turn helps the pastry to rise.
To make the choux buns, place teaspoonfuls of choux paste on the baking sheet, leaving 1 inch (2.5 cm) between them, and bake on a high shelf in the pre-heated oven for 10 minutes. After that, increase the heat to gas mark 7, 425°F (220°C) and bake for a further 15-20 minutes until the choux buns are crisp, light and a rich golden colour. Pierce the side of each one to let out the steam, then cool them on a wire rack.
To make the chocolate sauce, melt the chocolate, together with three tablespoons of water, in a basin fitted over a saucepan of simmering water (being careful that the base of the bowl does not touch the water), stirring until you have a smooth sauce (see How to melt chocolate). Just before serving, split the choux buns in half, fill each one with a teaspoonful of whipped cream, then join the halves together again. Pour the melted chocolate over them (see the photograph) and serve immediately.
Note: donâ€™t be tempted to put the cream in too far in advance because this tends to make them soggy.