This may seem daunting but it's worth the effort. The elements can all be made three days beforehand (except the glazing syrup) leaving the final assembly to be done up to an hour before you serve.
Choux puffs and Pastry cream
|130 g||Flour, sifted|
|3||Eggs, lightly beaten|
|75 g||Caster sugar|
|1||Vanilla pod, split in half|
|4||Eggs, 1 whole egg and 3 yolks, at room temperature|
|40 g||Caster sugar|
|200 g||Bitter chocolate, 70%, cut into pieces|
|30 g||Unsalted butter, at room temperature|
- Preheat oven to 200c.
- Put the water, butter and salt in a saucepan and heat gently till the butter melts. Bring to the boil, add the flour, and beat vigorously with a wooden spoon. Keep beating over the heat till it comes away cleanly from the side of the pan.
- Tip into a bowl to cool slightly for five minutes. Using a hand-held mixer on low speed, beat in a third of the eggs at a time. Continue till you have a smooth mix.
- Line a baking sheet with paper and half-fill a piping bag with the mix and pipe walnut-sized balls on to it, with spaces between to allow for expansion. Bake until they are evenly brown - about 20 minutes.
- Put the milk, cream, split vanilla pod and half the sugar in a pan and bring to the boil, stirring often.
- Meanwhile, mix together the remaining sugar, corn flour, eggs and yolks. When the milk has almost reached boiling point pour half into the egg mixture, beating well.
- Put this mixture back into the pot with the remaining milk and, whisking vigorously, bring back to the boil and simmer gently till it is smooth and thick.
- Strain into a clean bowl, cover and cool, then refrigerate till required (or for up to three days).
- Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of hot water, stirring till smooth. Put the milk, cream and sugar into another pan and, stirring, bring almost to the boil.
- Strain the mixture then slowly pour it into the chocolate while whisking, till smooth.
- Whisk in the butter, a small piece at a time, to make it smooth and glossy. Cool, cover and refrigerate till required (or up to three days).
- Up to an hour before serving it's time to glaze the puffs. If frozen, take these from the freezer 30 minutes prior.
- A couple of handfuls of toasted sliced almonds. Slowly heat the sugar, water and liquid glucose till the sugar is dissolved, then turn up the heat to a gentle simmer.
- Just as the syrup begins to change colour (154C to 157C on a sugar thermometer) remove from heat, add the lemon juice and shake into the mixture.
- Next, holding the base of each choux puff, dip each into the glaze, quickly sprinkle the tops with the toasted almond slices and place on a lightly greased plate or baking sheet.
- Take the pastry cream and whisk it for a minute or two.
- Half fill a piping bag that has been fitted with a small plain nozzle.
- Use the tip of the nozzle to pierce a hole in the base of each choux puff and fill each with the cream.
- Sprinkle toasted almonds over the top and pour chocolate sauce into saucers on each plate beside the puffs.