Sunday, January 17, 2016

Chocolate Eclairs

I know. Its hard to believe that these impressive looking pastries actually came out of my kitchen. I'm just as surprised as you. In fact, everything that could have gone wrong with these eclairs did! My first batch of eclairs fell a little and the pastry cream was really thick. Despite all these setbacks, I pushed through and the final product looked amazing and tasted even better! All this honesty is to encourage you to make eclairs. They may look daunting and it may even seem like you are failing but you might be surprised by your results.

These pastries were crisp on the outside, soft and creamy on the inside, and had the perfect balance of chocolate and vanilla. Making eclairs is a time consuming and lengthly process but the steps are easy and the result is very satisfying. The first step is making and cooling the pastry cream filling. It is best if the filling is able to hold its shape and not runny. An alternative to pastry cream is a plain whipped cream filling but I think the pastry cream is worth the extra effort. This step can be done a day in advance.

The next step is to make the eclair shell - make choux dough, pipe it, and bake it. I recommend watching a video on making choux pastry if its your first time. It is very easy to make but since the process of half cooking the dough before baking is unique, it is helpful to see it once. Once the eclairs are cool, its time to move onto filling. You can either poke three small holes in the bottom of the eclairs or two on either sides of the eclairs. A few of my eclairs had caved in on the bottom middle. I still filled both ends with cream and decorated them. They tasted and looked great!

Lastly, dip the eclairs in chocolate ganache and let them set for an hour or two. I stored the leftover eclairs in an air tight container in the fridge. Take them out an hour or two before serving again. Good luck in the kitchen!

Chocolate Eclairs
(Makes around 20 eclairs)

Vanilla Pastry Cream

2 cups whole milk 

1/2 cup sugar 
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds scraped 
Pinch of salt 
4 large egg yolks 
1/4 cup cornstarch 
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
Optional step: 1 cup heavy cream, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 2-3 tbsp powdered sugar 

Prepare vanilla pastry cream according to the instructions on this past post for an ombre crepe cake.  This should be done a few hours up to a day in advance to allow it to cool completely.

An additional step is to whip the heavy cream until it reaches soft peaks. Add in vanilla extract and powdered sugar, and continue whipping until it reaches stiff peaks. Gently fold the sweetened cream into the cooled, whipped pastry cream half at a time to create a fluffier filling and have enough to fill all the eclairs. 

Pour into a piping bag fitted with a small circle tip or cut off a small-medium hole at the end of the bag.

Choux Dough

1 cup water
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
pinch of salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 eggs

Preheat the oven to 425º F. 

Follow the instructions for the pate a choux dough on this past post for pate a choux swans.

Once the dough is ready, fill it into a piping bag fitted with a round tip (or cut off the end).

Pipe 2-3" long, 1/2" thick lines a few inches apart on parchment lined baking sheets. Bake at 425º F for 10 min. Then lower the heat to 350º F and bake for 20-25 minutes more or until lightly golden.

As soon as they are out of the oven, poke holes on either end of the eclair to let steam escape.

Chocolate Ganache

4 ounces of semisweet chocolate chips (2/3 cups)
1/4 cup of heavy cream
1/4-1/2 cup white chocolate chips or candy melts for decoration

Heat the heavy cream in a small saucepan or in the microwave until just before it boils. Pour over the semisweet chocolate chips in a bowl and let sit for 5 min or while you fill the eclairs. Stir to combine until smooth and glossy.

Melt white chocolate chips in the microwave for 30 second intervals until fully melted. Pour into a plastic bag or piping bag and cut a small piece of the tip (a very fine hole).


Insert the pastry cream bag into a hole at one end of the eclair and fill until you feel that the eclair is full or can see it at the other end. To be sure it is filled, fill it from the other end to get any missing spots. Dip the top of the eclair into the chocolate glaze and set it onto a cooling rack on top of a baking tray to catch any drips. Pipe white chocolate lines horizontally across. Use a toothpick and starting at the top drag the toothpick vertically through the lines. Draw a second line with toothpick starting in the opposite direction (from the bottom) and drag it from the bottom to top. Let the dipped eclairs set for an hour or two before serving.

The white chocolate designs on my eclairs didn't turn out so bright because I made them with a white chocolate ganache. I think it will be brighter if you use melted chocolate. Good luck in the kitchen and enjoy!

Unknown said...

One of the best eclair I've had. Thanks Wardah for the recipe. SubhanAllah, u r a terrific baker and an artist and a cook among the other things....these beauties melt in ur mouth n the taste lingers on....

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