Be a French pastry chef – Make chocolate eclairs
Wanna impress the crowd? Arrange a box of chocolate eclairs, give to someone as a gift and tell you made them.
Seriously: it’s so much easier than you imagine and everybody will think you are the best pastry chef from Paris.
Choux pastry, the sticky dough used to make eclairs and cream puffs, is a classic in patisserie, and it can be used in an infinity of other dishes, including savory ones. Once baked, it can be filled with whatever you want, including ice cream, créme chantilly, lemon curd, dulce de leche – so versatile. The only little trick is to pipe the dough as soon as you prepare it, still warm.
Choux Pastry (from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook) – makes 3 dozen
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup (100g) butter
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 1/4 cup flour
- 4 eggs, plus 1 egg white if needed
Chocolate Pastry Cream (adapted from Baking – From my home to yours)
- 2 cups whole milk
- 4 egg yolks
- 6 tbsp sugar
- 3 tbsp cornstarch
- pinch of salt
- 190g semisweet chocolate, melted
- 2 1/2 tbsp butter (didn’t use)
- 170g semisweet chocolate
- 6 tbsp butter
- 2 tsp corn syrup
Make the pastry
Preheat oven to 340°F. Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper.
Combine 1 cup water, butter, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, and immediately remove from heat. Stir in flour. When flour is combined, return to heat. Cook, stirring constantly for 4 minutes. It is ready when it pulls away from the sides and a film forms on the bottom of the pan.
Transfer to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, and mix on low speed, until slightly cooled, about 1 minute. Add eggs, one at a time, on medium speed, letting each one incorporate completely before adding the next. Add final egg a little at a time until the batter is smooth and shiny. Test batter by touching it with your finger and lifting to form a string. If a string does not form, the batter needs more egg. If you have added all the eggs and the batter still doesn’t form a string, add the extra egg white, 1 tbsp at a time, until it does.
Fill a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch (Ateco No. 806) tip with pate a choux batter; pipe out oblong shapes, about 3 inches long and 1 inch wide, onto prepared baking sheets at 2-inch intervals.
Bake until golden. Let cool on sheets on wire racks.
The pastries can be kept in airtight containers for 2 days, without filling.
Make the cream
In a medium bowl, combine egg yolks and sugar. Add cornstarch and whisk until smooth and pale yellow. Set aside.
In a medium saucepan, heat the milk over medium-high heat until it begins to steam. Whisking constantly, add half the hot milk to the egg-yolk mixture. Stir until smooth; add combined mixture back to remaining hot milk in the pan. Bring mixture to a boil, whisking rapidly to prevent scorching. Remove from heat, and stir in melted chocolate. Transfer to a bowl, press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto surface until ready to use. If not using immediately, refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
Make the Glaze (make it after the eclairs are all filled)
In a double-boiler or microwave oven, melt the chopped chocolate and butter until smooth. Add the corn syrup and stir well. Use immediately.
Assemble the eclairs
Cut the pastries lengthwise, but don’t split the two halves. Fill with the cold pastry cream. Dip tops in the glaze and let set for 15 minutes.