Photo: Martin Poole
Preheat the oven to 220°C, fan 200°C, gas 7. Sift the flour, cocoa and a pinch of salt onto a square of baking paper that you have folded in half and opened again.
Over a low heat and in a medium pan, gently heat 300ml water, the caster sugar and the butter. Once the butter has melted, turn the heat up and, as soon as the liquid comes to the boil, take the pan off the heat.
Pour the flour mix from the baking paper into the pan, then return the pan to the heat and cook for 1 minute, stirring all the time with a wooden spoon. You will need to beat the mix vigorously and keep going until it comes away from the sides of the pan – this will take a few minutes.
Take the pan off the heat and leave the mixture to cool for 5 minutes.
Next, little by little, beat in the eggs, making sure the egg is fully absorbed into the dough with each addition. You can do this with an electric mixer if you prefer. You will have a thick, glossy paste; leave it to cool slightly. Then, using a large piping bag with a 1.5-2cm plain nozzle, pipe 24 small balls onto a large, lined baking tray. If you don't have a piping bag, you can use a teaspoon – put 24 heaped teaspoonfuls of the mix on the lined tray and, with damp hands, roll each into a ball. Either way, smooth out the tops with a damp finger.
Bake the profiteroles for 25 minutes until puffed and risen, then remove from the oven. If you're going to fill them using a piping bag, quickly make a hole in the bottom of each one with a skewer then return them to the oven, on their sides, for 10 minutes. Alternatively, halve them and return them to the oven. After the 10 minutes, cool the profiteroles on a wire rack.
In a bowl, whip the cream with the icing sugar and brandy, if using. Then, using a piping bag, fill each profiterole. Or, fill the halved profiteroles with the whipped cream using a teaspoon.
Melt the white chocolate in a bowl over a pan of barely simmering water. Spoon a little of the chocolate over each profiterole and leave them to set in the fridge for 30 minutes.
To decorate, roll out the green icing and use a veined holly leaf cutter to stamp out 48 tiny holly leaves (or you can cut them by hand) and roll tiny berries from the red icing; use these to top each profiterole.