I have always somehow been drawn to French pâtisserie and to France itself, although I’ve never been there (except when I was still a cute little girl with short hair that one time made my friend think I was a boy, which was the only reason he played with me… true story). Which is why I finally made these. And of course because they’re absolutely gorgeous and delicious. Be warned: they are a little time-consuming.
If you don’t know what éclairs are, like my father and my boyfriend, shame on you. Éclairs, as are cream puffs, profiteroles and churros, are made from that funny dough called pâte à choux, or Brandteig in German. First you cook it, then you bake it. The cooking process takes all the liquid out of the dough and glues all the ingredients together (which makes it super smooth and soft). The absent liquid is later regained by adding eggs. Pâte à choux bakes to hollow, chubby little thingies which are later filled with pastry cream, whipped cream or ice cream. You might notice that they tend to contain „cream“. This is how you make pâte à choux:
add flour and immediately stir and stir until it gets smooth and doesn’t stick to your pan anymore. Then you continue to stir for a couple of minutes. Let the dough cool a bit (stir to release some of the steam) and add the eggs, one at a time, until the dough transforms into a beautiful –
right. „Dough-batter“. You can never know in advance how many eggs you need to add, it depends on how much liquid is still left in the dough(-batter?), I added 3 and a half. The consistency is crucial, it should be heavy enough to loosen itself from your whisk or wooden spoon, but soft enough to be piped. You’ll best look up some videos on how to make pâte à choux to get the consistency right.
Pipe the whatever it should be called onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper using a pastry bag, or a prepared plastic bag, which is way cheaper and works just as fine. Make sure that there’s enough space between them, they will puff up (and sideways). Brush the soon-to-be-éclairs with some eggwash (one egg beaten with a bit of milk) and pop them into the oven for about 40 minutes at 200°C.
Now look at that. Do you recognize them? These are the same éclairs we piped onto the baking sheet. Break the ugliest (no, that’s mean. Let’s say the least beautiful) éclair and check if it’s still moist inside. If so, put the baking sheet back into the oven, heat turned off, with the oven door slightly ajar. In the meantime, prepare the pastry cream or whatever you want to fill your éclairs with.
I basically used Laura Vitales crema di casa, which you will find along with this recipe of Boston Cream Cupcakes, to which I added some whipped cream.
Take the éclairs out of the oven after you’ve found that the they are ready by breaking the second least beautiful one. Now, finally, it’s time to fill these little cuties.
(Please ignore how my hand looks, it destroys all the beauty of the éclairs.)
Put two holes at both ends (at the bottom of course, you want them to look perfect) and fill the éclairs with the filling of your choice using a pastry / plastic bag, until you see the filling peek out of the second hole. Fill filling fill fill…
Once you are done, prepare the ganache. Pour some hot cream over your chocolate chips and let sit for a couple of minutes. Add two tablespoons of butter and stir to get a beautiful ganache that stays shiny even when it’s set.
Now comes the show-off-part:
For the pâte à choux
pinch of salt & sugar
140g all purpose flour
For the ganache
Heat the water together with butter, salt & sugar until the butter melts. Turn down heat to medium, add the flour and stir well until combined. stir for a few minutes, until the dough loosens itself from your pan. In a bowl, stir the dough until it doesn’t steam anymore (if you have the patience. If not, stir until it has cooled a bit). Add one egg at a time and check the consistency of the dough after adding each one. Depending on how moist your dough still is, you have to add more or less eggs. Check out some videos on how to make pâte à choux to get the consistency right.
Preheat your oven to 200°C (400°F).
Fill your dough into a pasrty bag and pipe the éclairs onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 200°C for 40 minutes. Check if they are still moist inside, if so, let sit in the oven with the heat turned off and the oven door ajar. Check again.
When they aren’t too moist inside anymore, put two holes in each éclair and fill them with your favorite pastry cream (using a pastry bag and a filling tip if you like).
For the ganache, heat the heavy cream and pour it over your chocolate. Let sit for a couple of minutes, then stir and add the butter. Stir until you get a smooth, glossy ganache.
Dip the éclairs upside down into the ganache, let sit a bit, and enjoy!