Chocolate Eclairs

Made this for a friend who loves the chocolate eclairs they serve at catered buffets that run out the fastest. Though those eclairs are usually made with choux pastry I decided to go for a crisper traditional French éclair shell from IronWhisk. Filled with a chocolate custard that was decadent yet lightened by the texture (not a fan of cream fillings).

IronWhisk’s tutorial provides a detailed technique and makes for an excellent choux paste for the perfect éclair – lightly crisped, darkly browned, and completely hollow on the inside. I love IronWhisk’s tutorials! It details excellent techniques such as Doctor Who’s cake here, and macarons tips and tricks here. For choux pastries, How to check when it’s done? Tap the bottom of it, if it’s golden brown, lifts off easily and sounds hollow, you know you’ve got it!

Bruno’s Kitchen also has some useful tips on the Påte Choux method, including baking temperatures and position of the rack. In a nutshell, conventional ovens will require slightly higher temperatures initially for around 5 minutes, then lower the temperature for a slow and steady bake. For convection ovens, eclairs tend to require lower temperatures and shorter baking times.

Make sure to use a star tip to pipe out the eclairs (Churros style!) for the fluted look, and use water on fingers to smooth down any unsightly peaks after piping. Many more variations for the next éclair project – L’Éclair by Sarah Michelle is one of my greatest inspirations for éclair flavor and designs (can tell that each éclair is made with so much thought and love) – hopefully more to come next time!

 

Chocolate Éclairs
Makes eight 13 cm x 5 inch long eclairs or 16 medium sized éclairs
Chocolate Eclairs adapted from Iron Whisk

75 g water
75 g milk
75 g butter
5 g sugar
3 g salt
100 g bread flour, sifted
150 g eggs (~3), room temperature and lightly beaten
Icing sugar, for dusting
Star tip (ideally about 1.5 cm in diameter with ~16 small teeth)

Chocolate Custard filling adapted from Bruno’s Kitchen

Chocolate Mixture
125 ml milk
40 g red cocoa powder
130 g dark chocolate 58  to 64%
Custard
500 ml milk
1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp (60g) granulated sugar
1 vanilla bean or vanilla extract
100 g (~5) egg yolks
1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp (60g) granulated sugar
40 g cornstarch

White Chocolate Glaze and Decorations
Tempered white chocolate
Decorations of your choice
* Many professional patisseries use icing fondant or gelatin based, which you may experiment some other time!

To prepare the choux paste:

Bring the water, milk, butter, sugar, and salt to a strong simmer in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Remove the pot from the heat and add all the flour at once. Stir vigorously until the flour is completely incorporated.

Return to heat and mix the dough, being careful not to scrape the bottom of the pan as a film may form there while cooking. Cook until the dough reaches 75°C (170°F), about two minutes. You may see a film form at the bottom of the pan.

Transfer the dough to a bowl and, using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix on the lowest speed for about one minute and thirty seconds, such that the dough cools down to 60°C (140°F). You can also do this with a spoon or a hand mixer.

Add half of the eggs and mix, still on the lowest speed if using a stand mixer, until combined. With the mixer still running, or your hand still stirring, add the rest of the beaten eggs slowly while you continue to mix. Once incorporated, mix for an additional minute until the dough is smooth.

To pipe & bake éclairs

Prepare a parchment paper lined baking sheet by dabbing a bit of choux between the paper and the pan at each corner to secure the paper to the pan. Transfer the choux to a pastry bag fitted with a star tip.

Pipe the éclairs in 13cm (5 inch) lengths, and about 2.5cm (1 inch) wide, at about a 45° angle between the bag and the parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Space the éclairs about 5cm (2 inches) apart. If needed, mark lines with a pen or pencil on the parchment paper to ensure the éclairs are equal in length. Dust with icing sugar.

Bake in a preheated oven at 180°C (350°F) for forty minutes, or until slightly darker than a golden brown. Remove from the oven and make a thin slit at the bottom of each éclair while still hot to let the steam escape. Let cool completely before filling and glazing.

To make Chocolate Custard filling

Prepare chocolate mixture by bringing milk to boil and turn off the heat. Mix in chopped chocolate till smooth

Prepare custard. Bring milk, sugar and vanilla to a boil. Meanwhile, beat egg yolks and sugar and add cornstarch. When the milk boils remove from heat and temper the yolk mixture with one-third of the hot milk whisking constantly. Pour the tempered mixture into the saucepan and return to the heat.

Bring to boil and cook for 2 minutes whisking swiftly on medium heat. Remove from the stove and mix in the chocolate mixture. Press through a fine mesh-sieve and cool down completely, cover with plastic wrap in contact to prevent a skin from forming. Push off the vanilla pod and let dry ;save later use. Once completely chilled, whisk the chocolate custard until smooth.

To make White chocolate glaze and assemble

Melt white chocolate over a double boiler, and reserve. Make holes on the backs of eclairs. Fill a pastry bag filled with a small plain pastry tip and gently pipe the custard generously into the eclair until it comes off the other side. Wipe off any excess cream. Refrigerate before dipping into the glaze for a neat finish ideally (I didn’t and it turned out fine so no worries if you don’t)

Dip each eclair, and decorate as you like! Store eclairs refrigerated up to 3 days

 

 

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