A small, oblong, cream-filled pastry made with choux pastry (cream-puff pastry dough). Unlike cream puffs, éclairs are usually topped with a sweet icing.
My first attempt was the French éclairs au chocolat, a pastry to be filled with chocolate-flavoured crème pâtissière and iced with chocolate fondant.
In other words, there are three components to the eclair.
- Pate a Choux, also known as Choux Pastry or Cream Puff Dough
- Pastry Cream (make 2 to 3 days in advance)
- Chocolate glaze (make 2 to 3 days in advance), made with Chocolate Sauce (make up to 2 weeks in advance)
So I started with the Pate a Choux, the cream puff dough. The recipe I followed was from the book, Okashi by Keiko Ishida. I like the quantities of ingredients used in the recipes as they were apportionate for smaller families.
A. Pate a Choux (enough for 12- 14 eclairs of 1o cm)
- 75 ml water
- 50 ml fresh whole milk
- 50g unsalted butter , cut into small cubes
- 75g all purpose flour
- A pinch of sugar
- A pinch of salt
- 3 large eggs
1. Preheat oven to 180 degree C. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
2. In a heavy bottomed medium saucepan, bring the milk, water, butter, sugar and salt to the boil.
3. Once the mixture is at a rolling boil, add all the flour at once, reduce the heat to medium and start to stir the mixture vigorously with a wooden spoon. The dough comes together very quickly. Do not worry if a slight crust forms at the bottom of the pan, it’s supposed to. You need to carry on stirring for a further 2-3 minutes to dry the dough. After this time the dough will be very soft and smooth.
4. Transfer the dough into a bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or using your handmixer or if you still have the energy, continue by hand. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each egg has been added to incorporate it into the dough. This is an important point to note.
5. In the end, the dough should be thick and shiny and when lifted it should fall back into the bowl in a ribbon.
6. The dough should be still warm. It is now ready to be used for the éclairs as directed above.
7.I had a fun time piping my dough using a nozzle of 2 cm in diameter. Do ensure there is at least 2 cm gap in between for them to puff. And these eclairs for baking at 160 degree C for 30 minutes. The heat must be consistently high for the eclairs to create the hollow centre.
8. Allow the eclairs to cool and rest for several hours before filling. Keep in a cool, dry place.
B. Chocolate Pastry Cream Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by PierreHermé
• 2 cups fresh whhole milk
• 4 large egg yolks
• 75g sugar
• 3 tablespoons cornstarch, sifted (important ingredient)
• 200g bittersweet chocolate, preferably Velrhona Guanaja, melted
• 40g unsalted butter, at room temperature
1. In a small saucepan, bring the milk to a boil. In the meantime, combine the yolks, sugar and cornstarch together and whisk in a saucepan.
2. Once the milk has reached a boil, temper the yolks by whisking a couple spoonfuls of the hot milk into the yolk mixture. This is to prevent having scrambled eggs when you add in the whole lot of boiling milk later. Continue whisking and slowly pour the rest of the milk into the tempered yolk mixture.
3. Strain the mixture back into the saucepan to remove any egg that may have scrambled. Place the pan over medium heat and whisk vigorously (without stop) until the mixture returns to a boil. Keep whisking vigorously for 1 to 2 more minutes (still over medium heat).
4. Stir in the melted chocolate and then remove the pan from the heat. Scrape the pastry cream into a small bowl and set it in an ice‐water bath to stop the cooking process. Make sure to continue stirring the mixture at this point so that it remains smooth.
5. Once the cream has reached a temperature of 60 degree C and remove from the ice‐water bath and stir in the butter in three or four installments. Return the cream to the ice‐water bath to continue cooling, stirring occasionally, until it has completely cooled. The cream is now ready to use or store in the fridge.
I piped in the pastry cream from the back as it seemed to be the less untidy method. Sinful dosage of chocolate…
C. Chocolate Glaze,Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé
(makes 1 cup or 300g)
• 80ml heavy cream
• 100g bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
• 20 g unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces, at room temperature
• 110 ml chocolate sauce (recipe below), warm or at room temperature
1. In a small saucepan, bring the heavy cream to a boil. Remove from the heat and slowly begin to add the chocolate, stirring with a wooden spoon or spatula.
2. Stirring gently, add in the butter, piece by piece followed by the chocolate sauce.
Chocolate Sauce,Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé
(makes 1½ cups or 525 g)
• 130 g bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
• 250 ml water
• 125 ml crème fraîche, or heavy whipping cream
• 70 g sugar
1. Place all the ingredients into a saucepan and bring to a boil, making sure to stir constantly. Then reduce the heat to low and continue stirring with a wooden spoon until the sauce thickens.
2. It may take 10‐15 minutes for the sauce to thicken, but you will know when it is done when it coats the back of your spoon. The quality of bittersweet chocolate used is one of the key factors to ensure the success of the glazing and the taste. So it is a non-compromise to use fine quality chocolate!
And I could not help but to take a bite before I glaze the eclairs.
A classic snack that carries the style of French chic and an air of arrogance.
Vive La Éclairs Au Chocolat !