Chocolate eclairs

Crisp puff pastry meets fresh cream and rich chocolate to make the most decadent dessert in French history.

I like to think, that when edible, eggless cookie dough became a thing, it made me think twice about eating uncooked batter. Truth is, I will never stop.

Gooey texture and raw ingredients aren’t enough to stop me from sneaking a test sample straight from the mixer. Cookie dough is, of course, the best kind; but cake mix and pie filling are tough contenders for top taste before the bake.

This is all to say – and caution – not to try the choux paste! Yes, it may seem obvious, being made up of just flour, egg and water, but call me too curious for my own good.

This is also to note: don’t let the unsavoury taste of the choux paste be any indication to the deliciousness that is the full and final éclair. It’s the combined baking science with complimentary creamy-flaky flavours that really make the éclair one of the best creations in French dessert.

And it doesn’t stop there! Consider pâte à choux as the dough of all trades, and use the same recipe for cream puffs, profiteroles, croquembouche and even beignets.

In the making

✘ Avoid water evaporation when cooking the flour. The flour needs all the water to gelatinize properly, which gives it its thick consistency (similar to adding flour to thicken sauces). This process helps support the structure of the pastry when the steam inflates it and creates a hollow inside. 

✘ Never open the door of your oven before your pastries have risen. The flash of room-temperature air could cause the puffs to collapse.

✔ Correct consistency is still enough to stand up, yet soft enough to spread while lukewarm. You can check by pulling a finger through it to see if the creases disappear. If it’s too stiff, then slowly add in milk. Be careful – the dough may be softened, but cannot be stiffened with flour that has not gelatinized. 

✔ Piping for eclairs and cream puffs work best with 1.5 – 2cm-round tips, in the plain or open-star nozzle.

✔ Place the finished eclairs in stretched muffin liners for easier transport.

Classic chocolate éclairs

  • Servings: 24 - 30
  • Difficulty: Medium
  • Print

An airy french pastry with a crisp shell and a flakey, cream-filled inside. Made even tastier with a sweet chocolate fondant coating and a touch of tart raspberry jam.

Credit: Chef Rock, George Brown Culinary Arts

Ingredients

    For the choux paste
  • 250ml cold water
  • ½ cup and 1 tablespoon (125 grams) unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon (5 grams) salt
  • 1 ⅔ (185 grams) bread flour
  • 6 eggs

  •  For the filling
  • 500ml whipping cream, chilled 
  • ½ teaspoon (2.5 grams) vanilla extract
  • ⅓ cup(35 grams) granulated sugar

    – A bit of strawberry jam if desired 


  •  For the coating
  • 225 grams white fondant
  • 500 grams coating chocolate

Directions

    The choux pastry 
  1. Place water, salt and butter into a sauce pot and bring to a boil. Make sure butter is completely melted before adding flour.

    2. Add bread flour to the boiling water. Stir quickly and cook until the paste slides away from the pot. You’ll now when the paste is cooked when it clears the side of the pot, balls up, loses its wet appearance and the pot shows a white film. 

    3. Transfer the dough to a stand mixer, and mix until the dough is cool, around 65°C. Do not add eggs while the dough is still hot in the pot, or you’ll get scrambled eggs! 

    4. Add the eggs two at a time, ensuring that they are thoroughly incorporated before adding more. Scrape down the side of the bowl to help prevent lumps. At this point, dough is thick and stretchy, and should look matte. Add milk only if necessary to adjust the consistency of the choux paste.

    5. Preheat the oven at 400°C. 

    6. Place choux pastry in a pastry bag and pipe 8 – 10cm fingers. 

    7. Bake for 30 minutes.

    The whipped cream filling 

    1. Pour the chilled cream in a large metal bowl. Using an electric or stand mixer, whip the cream until it starts to thicken.

    2. Add the vanilla and sugar and increase the speed of the mixer.

    3. Mix until it forms medium peaks, which hold their shape. 

    4. Transfer the filling to a pastry bag.

    The chocolate coating

    1. Melt the coating chocolate in a double boiler. 

    2. Once the chocolate is completely melted and smooth, pour it over the fondant and mix thoroughly. 

    The assembly 

    1. Cut off the top thirds of eclairs.

    2. Spread a thin layer of strawberry jam if desired. Then, fill the bottom two-thirds generously with whipped cream.

    3. Dip the top third in the coating chocolate. (this can get messy!)

    4. Bring the two sides of choux pastry back together, lightly sandwiching the cream.

One thought on “Chocolate eclairs

  1. Pingback: Braided brioche

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