Yesterday morning I made a couple of dozen savory gougères to take to Daniel and Frances as part of a family brunch. The pate à choux came out so beautiful and is so easy to make I thought, perhaps taking some sweet pastries would be a good idea also. While Frances and Daniel like savory, Kathy, Fran and I really do like sweet. Oh yeah, I also made some Christmas and Chanukah cookies on Friday and might as well bring those along too. There were too many for just Fran and me. Well, not too many but…eclair_0002

All the “how to” instruction videos and tutorials stress that you should make all the eclairs uniform size by drawing a template on the backside of some parchment paper. I say, who cares? It’s not like these are for sale, they are for personal consumption and if the eclairs are 2, 2½ or 3″ long, well, I really don’t care.

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Anyway, I made about 4 dozen of these little bits ‘o heaven and took over half to the brunch, heh, heh, heh.

The pate à choux (or just choux) uses one saucepan and the stand mixer, the crème pâtissèrie (creme pat) uses the same saucepan, a sieve and a bowl, and the ganache the same saucepan and a low sided bowl for dunking the filled eclairs in the chocolate. Easy! The most time consuming part of making eclairs is the drying of the choux after the initial bake. I use this time to prepare the creme pat and ganache and to clean up from making the choux.

Ingredients

  • Choux Pastry:
    • ½ c (65 grams) AP flour
    • ½ tsp granulated white sugar
    • ¼ tsp salt
    • 4 tbsp (55 grams) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
    • ½ c (120 ml) water
    • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • Glaze: (optional)
    • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • Pastry Cream:
    • ½ c sugar
    • ¼ c corn starch
    • Pinch salt
    • 2 c whole milk
    • 4 egg yolks
    • 2 Tbl butter
  • Chocolate Glaze:
    • 2 ounces (55 grams) semisweet
    • chocolate, finely chopped
    • ¼ c (60 ml) heavy “whipping” cream (cream with 35% butterfat content)
    • ¼ tsp pure vanilla extract
    • ½ tbsp light corn syrup (or golden syrup or glucose)

Method

  1. Choux Pastry:
    1. Preheat oven to 400o F (200o C) and place rack in center of oven.
    2. In a bowl whisk the flour with the sugar and salt.
    3. Place the butter and water in a saucepan over medium high heat and bring to a boil.
    4. Remove from heat and, with a wooden spoon, add the flour mixture, all at once, and stir until combined. It will look like mashed potatoes. Return saucepan to the heat and stir constantly until the dough comes away from the sides of the pan and forms a thick smooth ball (about 1-2 minutes). The dough will film the bottom and sides of the saucepan and make cleaning a pain.
    5. Transfer the dough to an electric mixer and beat on low speed to release the steam from the dough (about 1 minute).
    6. Once the dough is lukewarm start adding the lightly beaten eggs (dough will separate and then come together) and continue to mix until you have a smooth thick paste (dough will fall from a spoon in a thick ribbon).
    7. Place the dough in a pastry bag fitted with a large plain tip and pipe oblongs of dough (about 3/4 inch (2 cm) wide) onto the parchment lined baking sheet. (When piping hold the bag at a 45-degree angle.) If desired, with a pastry brush, gently brush the tops of the dough with the lightly beaten egg.
    8. Bake for 15 minutes and then reduce the oven temperature to 350o F (180o C).
    9. Remove from oven, pierce an end of each éclair with a small skewer to release the interior steam.
    10. Continue to bake for a further 25 minutes or until the shells are a nice amber color and when split, are almost dry inside. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool.
  2. Pastry Cream:
    1. Whisk eggs and milk together and add to all other ingredients (except vanilla) to a medium saucepan.
    2. Bring to boil whisking constantly
    3. Cook until thickened (it will look lumpy, its ok)
    4. Sieve lumpy mixture into a bowl and add 1 tsp vanilla, mix thoroughly
    5. When incorporated, cover with plastic directly on the cream and cool.
  3. Chocolate Glaze:
    1. Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl.
    2. Heat the cream just until boiling and immediately pour it over the chocolate.
    3. Gently stir until the chocolate has melted.
    4. Stir in the vanilla extract and corn syrup, mixing to ensure incorporation.
  4. To complete:
    1. Fill a piping bag equipped with a filling tip (such as Wilton 230). Inject crème pat into the hole you made to allow the steam to escape. When you feel the side of the éclair begin to bulge, the éclair is full.
    2. Dip the top of each éclair into the warm, thin ganache and set on a piece of waxed or parchment paper to dry. (I use the parchment paper previously used to line the baking sheet.)
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