There is nothing more satisfying than a French éclairs . This treat is hard to resist. Perfecting the choux dough is not difficult. It requires a bit of know how and that is what I want to teach you. The French eclair is filled with a pastry cream that is slightly stiffer than regular pudding. The French eclairs are an elegant dessert for guests or anytime you desire a sweet treat to satisfy your French-aholic mood.
2 cups water in a heavy-bottomed 3 quart sauce pan
1¼ sticks (5 ounces) butter cut into ½-inch pieces
¼ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1½ cups all-purpose flour (measure by scooping dry measure cups into the flour and sweeping of excess)
6 “large” eggs
2 cups whole milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla bean, seed scraped
1/2 cup sugar and 2 tablespoons
5 tablespoons flour
Pinch of salt
1 large egg
2 large egg yolks
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoon heavy cream
Measure out all ingredients. Preheat oven to 425° degrees. Bring the water slowly to the boil with the butter, salt, and sugar. When butter is melted, remove pan from heat and immediately put in all the flour; at one beat it in, either by electricity or by hand. When smoothly blended, beat with a wooden spoon over moderate heat for 2-3 minutes to evaporate excess liquid: pastry should clean itself off sides and bottom of pan, and begin to film the bottom of the pan. Remove from heat, make a well in center of hot pastry, and beat in 1 of the 6 eggs, beating until egg is absorbed and pastry is smooth (an electric beater works ell and quickly here). Continue with 5 more eggs, one at a time. Pastry should hod its shape when with a spoon: if too soft, you cannot form and bake it properly; on the other hand, it is the eggs that give the puff and you want to add more with a fork; add dribbles to the pastry, beating vigorously until absorbed. Beat in as much of the additional eggs as you think the pastry will safely take-a bit too little, however, is better than a bit too much. The dough should be thick, but should fall slowly and steadily from the beaters when you lift them out of the bowl. If the dough is still clinging to the beaters, add the remaining 1 egg and mix until incorporated.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line 2 baking sheet with parchment paper. Using a pastry bag fitted with a large plain tip, pipe fat lengths of dough (about the size and shape of a jumbo hot dog). Line on a baking sheet, leaving 2 inches of space between them. You should have 8 to 10 lengths. If they look horrible, don’t worry! The egg wash will fix it.
Smooth with your fingers any bumps or points in the dough that remain on the surface.
Bake 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 375 degrees and bake until puffed up and light golden brown, about 25 minutes more. Try not to open the oven door too often during the baking. Let cool on the baking sheet.
In a medium saucepan, bring the milk, vanilla bean and seeds just to a boil. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk the sugar with the flour and salt. Whisk in the egg and egg yolks. Slowly add the hot milk, whisking constantly. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and bring to a boil over moderate heat, whisking constantly. Continue to boil the pastry cream, whisking constantly, until thick, about 30 seconds longer. Immediately strain the pastry cream through a fine sieve into a medium bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or until cool.
In a medium bowl, whip the heavy cream until soft peaks form. Whisk the pastry cream, them fold in the whipped cream until blended.
Putting the éclairs together:
Take one of the baked eclair shells and using a pastry tip or if you don’t have one, with a serrated knife, split the eclair shells lengthwise. Spoon a generous amount of the pastry cream into the bottom half of each shell. Dip the top half of each shell into the chocolate glaze, close the eclairs and serve.
1/2 cup heavy cream
4 oz semisweet chocolate coarsely chopped, more needed to make thicker
In a small saucepan, heat the cream over medium heat just until it boils. Immediately turn off the heat.
Put the chocolate in a medium bowl. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and whisk until melted and smooth.
Set aside and keep warm. The glaze can be made up to 48 hours in advance. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use, and rewarm in a microwave or over hot water when ready to use.
Chill, uncovered, at least 1 hour to set the glaze. Serve chilled. Make sure you don’t make too far ahead, they may get soggy.