In my last post I was telling you how I learned to make eclairs at the Cake And Bake Show a few weeks ago, and how I had bought all the ‘necessary’ accessories, as if I was going to bake a batch every day. So first, let me tell you that apart from a good piping bag, an oven and TIME, you don’t really need anything special to make eclairs. I got myself a fancy eclairs silicon mold with breathing holes… well it is nice but you could do just as well with a normal baking sheet, which is what I did to make the mini-eclairs.
During the class, I learned about everything that can go wrong when you make eclairs, so I was a tiny bit intimidated at my first try. I was actually so scared they would not rise, that I put a lot of choux pastry in the mold just in case, and ended up with monster eclairs. Doesn’t this one look like a big nuclear mushroom?
Anyway, I still piped in the cream and iced them..to date they are the man-of-the-house’s favorites due to their giant size. Mini-eclairs did not go down too well with him…I suppose it is difficult to grasp the concept of “mini” when you can have 3 nuclear eclairs and not take a gram.
I was better at my second try, though it took me a while so by the time I took the final pictures it was nighttime..unfortunately I could not wait until the morning to take better pics as these little guys were for a dinner party and I finished just on time.
Ingredients (makes about 8 eclairs)
|– For the choux pastry: 80 grams butter
150 g water
120 g strong flour
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp salt
|– For the custard2 tbsp cornflour
40 g dark chocolate
250 g whole milk
– For the icing :
40 g dark chocolate
2 tbsp milk
3 tbsp icing sugar
It seems like there is an awful lot of things to do to finally get your eclairs: making choux pastry, baking the shells, making the custard, the icing and then dressing the eclairs. But if you feel a bit lazy, you can just make the shells and fill them with whatever you have at hand, and use ready made icing. But here is the full monty!
1. The choux pastry
I used the Thermomix recipe for my choux, it has not failed me yet so I stick with it. Before you start anything, pre-heat your oven to 200 °C, you oven will need to be really hot when you put them in to allow the eclairs to rise.
The first step in making the choux pastry is to make a roux (mixture of fat and wheat). For this place the water and butter into the bowl and cook at 90°C/Speed 1 for 3 mn (or until butter has melted). Then add the flour all at ounce and mix for 30 seconds/Speed 3. You now have your roux. You can see on picture below (left) how it should look like. Let it cool down for about 5-10 minutes.
Once the mixture is cool, add eggs one at a time onto rotating blades for 30-50 seconds/Speed 5. You should obtain a thick paste that looks like what you can see on the picture on the right.
Then just pipe your choux pastry on a baking sheet, or in your eclairs silicon sheet (again not really needed, unless you don’t have a piping bag, then it can come handy to maintain the shape of the eclair). On the picture you see below, I have actually spooned the choux pastry in the molds, and then I have evened out the surface with a finger dipped in cold water (to avoid it from sticking to the dough). Try to have you eclairs as even as possible when putting them in the oven, so you will get a smooth surface, easier for the icing.
Bake for 20 minutes, without ever, ever opening the oven. If you do, the oven will lose heat and cause your eclairs to deflate. It is also very important that your eclairs are enough cooked so that the shell is hard enough not to collapse on itself. If in doubt, it is better to have over-cooked eclairs than the contrary. Once you have taken your shells out of the oven, allow them to cool down for 5 minutes before cutting them open, ready for filling. Alternatively, you can leave them whole and pipe in the cream through a hole in the shell. If you do this, I would advise to make the hole on top of the eclair, so you can cover it with the icing (sneaky!).
2. The custard and filling
This will be much shorter: Pour all the ingredients in the TM bowl, and then mix at 90°C/Speed 5/ 8 minutes. Let it cool down for 10 minutes before you pipe the cream in the shells. You can replace the dark chocolate with vanilla extract of vanilla pods to make vanilla cream. Almost there!
3. The chocolate icing
Even faster: break the chocolate into pieces, add milk and microwave for 30 seconds. If the chocolate has not completely melted, stir and microwave 10 seconds more, and so on until you obtain a smooth mixture. Then add in the icing sugar. This will make your icing shine nicely. For my eclairs I have used two different icings: a classic dark chocolate icing, and another one made on the same principle but using white chocolate/coffee chocolate (Nestle makes these).
Once your icing is ready, let cool down for 2 minutes so it is less runny. Take a big dollop of chocolate on your finger and run it back and forth on the top of your eclair.
Now all you have to do is refrigerate your eclairs for an hour before serving… and enjoy!