Bake Along #99 – Chocolate Eclairs
That one step into the world of french pastries. I have immeasurable fear on this entire chapter and it took me so long to actually try my hands on this. Countless times of extensive self learning, lot of books on french pastries, but the fear was still on.
If not for the promise I did to myself that I will touch base choux pastry, beautifully called as pate-a-choux, before we are #100, so here it is.
I had no choice but, not to fail my first try at making pate-a-choux. So my sincere attempts to learn it right, so many days until today, have paid off and you need to gear up to understand each step carefully, visualize once before you begin to do and then attempt to actually making it.
Chocolate eclair is an oblong shaped pastry made with choux pastry dough. The same dough is used for making other french pastry desserts like cream puffs, profiteroles, croquembouche and few other wide varieties of french pastries. You get the pate-a-choux right and you are good to rock and roll into the world of french pastries.
The piped eclair when made successfully, is very light and it rises beautifully that it is hollow inside. That hollow space is then filled with some deliciously sinful vanilla pastry cream and the eclair is coated with creamy chocolate ganache.
Everything of this in a bite, you have a two-way ticket to heaven and bac
Recipe Source: Craftsy
- Unsalted butter – 85 gms
- Sugar – 14 gms
- Salt – 1/4 tsp
- Flour – 105 gms
- Eggs – 4, medium sized (Regular in Indian standards)
Ganache – ( For 6 eclairs)
- Dark chocolate – 50 gms
- Fresh cream – 50 gms
Pastry Cream – ( Good to fill only 6 eclairs)
- Milk – 100 ml
- Sugar – 25 gms
- Yolks – 2
- All-purpose flour – 7 gms
- Cornflour – 7 gms
- Milk – 2 tablespoons
- Butter – 1 tablespoon
- Vanilla extract – 1 tsp
1. Line up your baking tray with silicon mat/butter paper. Sift together all-purpose flour and salt. Keep aside.
2. Add together water, butter and sugar in a heavy bottomed sauce pan and bring it on stove top on medium flame. Keep stirring.
3. Let it begin to boil. Keep stirring occasionally.
4. Bring the flame to complete simmer and add the flour ALL at once. Immediately begin to stir using a wooden spoon or a silicon spatula. Use your full arm power.
5. It will become a solid mass immediately. Do not fear, continue to keep stirring constantly for 2 to 4 minutes until the bottom of the base of your saucepan has a layer of film sticking to it. Switch off flame. ( You need to continue cooking the flour well, at this stage, else the moisture would still remain in the flour and that is a key factor to the structure of your pate-a-choux)
6. Add the hot dough immediately into the bowl of your electric beater and start beating on medium high speed using your paddle attachment.
7. Continue to beat until the dough and the bottom of the bowl comes to complete room temperature.
8. Add the eggs one by one, beat for about a minute after the addition of each egg and until each egg gets incorporated into the dough completely.
9. The final dough is sticky, flowy and not a dry dough. It should look like easily pipe-able.
10. Here is a finger string test that you might have to try out before deciding if your final batter for the pate-a-choux is ready. Take a good blob of the batter between your index finger and thumb. Stretch both the fingers 2 inch apart and the dough would hold together without splitting apart. You are good to go.
11. Fill you piping bag with half of the batter. Cut open the tip of the piping bag to 1 inch opening. By visually dividing the prepared baking tray into 12 equal squares, pipe the eclairs diagonally in each square, so it has enough space to rise and bake.
12. Touch some water in your fingers and pat the piped eclair dough very gently to remove any peaks if formed during piping. Bake in pre-heated oven at 200 degrees for 20 minutes. At the end of 20 minutes, reduce the temperature to 170 degrees and continue to bake for another 20 minutes.
13. Home made pate-a-choux have the tendency to crack open on the top without having a smooth finish. The liquid content vaporizes and passes out through those cracks of the eclair. They are golden brown evenly throughout and that is when they are done. Cool on wire rack.
Pastry Custard –
1. Add flour and cornflour in a bowl and mix 2 tablespoons of milk and make a smooth paste without any lumps
2. Add 100 ml milk, yolks and sugar in a heavy bottomed saucepan and mix them together using a wire whisk. Add the flour paste into the milk mixture and stir well.
3. Bring this on fire on medium heat and keep stirring until it begins to thicken. Keep stirring continuously.
4. It will begin to thicken instantly. Keep hawk eye and keep stirring continuously and vigorously to keep it smooth without any lumps. You will switch off stove when you see the bottom of the pan as you stir it around.
5. Switch off stove and add butter and mix well until butter completely melts.
6. Add vanilla and mix well.
7. Transfer the pastry cream into a bowl and cover it up with a plastic wrap. Make sure the plastic wrap touches the top of the cream. This will prevent any film from forming on top of the cream. Refrigerate for 1 hour until cold.
1. Add chopped chocolate in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave in 30 second bursts until chocolate melts completely. Add the cream and stir continuously until the chocolate and cream combines well together and becomes smooth and shiny. Store at room temperature.
1. Remove the pastry custard from fridge, give it a brisk stir using a spatula to make it creamy again. Fit your piping bag with a cupcake filling nozzle or any big round nozzle that you might have. Using the same nozzle, poke a hole at the bottom of each of the cooled eclair.
2. Insert your nozzle into the hole that you have made and pipe in as much pastry cream as your eclair can take and becomes heavy.
3. Change the direction of your piping bag and also fill in the other direction of the eclair. Make it completely full. Finish piping to all the eclairs that you need to finish.
4. Microwave ganache for 10 seconds if it has thickened up by this time. Transfer it into a shallow bowl. Pick up the eclairs on 2 extreme corners of the long side and dip the top side of the eclair into the ganache.
5. Set it back upside down on a butter paper till the ganache sets completely.
Keep it refrigerated and serve chilled.
These are divinely beautiful little pieces of heaven and the bliss of having to make them completely from scratch at the comfort of our home.
The eclairs that have not been filled can be stored in zip locks in the freezer for about a month. They just need to be thawed and baked again at 175 degrees for 5 to 8 minutes and can be brought back to as good as freshly made. They can then be filled with freshly made pastry cream. But the dough made is not good to be frozen to bake the eclairs at a later date. So make the eclairs or even pipe for cream puffs, profiteroles etc and freeze them in zip locks and then thaw them back to fresh and finish them as needed.
This dough makes 12 eclairs and 12 cream puffs. The pastry cream and ganache is good for 6 eclairs, if you decide to serve all of them in one go, double or triple them as needed.
Enjoy and stir up the chef in you !!