ECLAIRS - a very impressive dessert

I've always been intimidated by french pastries with all their complex details and fancy looks, but I had a craving for Eclairs that a doughnut just couldn't satisfy, so it was either face my fears or suffer the consequences of an unsatisfied food craving (which, for me, would be to swallow down half a dozen doughnuts along with my pride).  As it turns out, eclairs really aren't that difficult, they just look really impressive.  Choux pastry, as it turns out, isn't much more difficult that boiling water and having the patience to not open the oven door while they're baking.  Which is, by far, the part of this recipe that I struggled most with.  And ganache is just hot cream poured over chocolate - no double-boilers or other tricky kitchen wizardry.  And lastly, pastry cream is not-so scary, you just have to keep stirring it and try not to taste it before it's cooled even though it smells like heaven - that stuff is plasma-hot.

The satisfaction of conquering such an impressive dessert and the reward of having your kitchen smell just like a patisserie for at least a day is well worth the effort.  Oh, and have I mentioned that I nearly ate the entire batch on my own?  Yes, they are that good.

Makes: depending on size, 12 large, 24 medium, 48 small
Time: about 2 hours total, baking and chilling time included
 For the Pastry:
1 stick unsalted butter (113g.)
1 cup flour (128g.)
1 cup water (236ml.)
4 eggs

In a saucepan, melt the butter in the water until it bubbles.  Mix in the flour.  Remove from the heat and let sit for about 5 minutes to cool.  Add the eggs, one at a time. (It will seem like there is no way they will mix in and then, at the very last minute, they will.  Ahh, the magic of cooking).

Let the mixture cool enough to put it into a pastry bag or a plastic baggie with the tip cut off (about 1/2" wide).  Pipe onto a parchment paper or silpat lined baking sheet.

Bake for 10 minutes at 450', then reduce heat to 350' (without opening the oven door).  It is very important that you do NOT open the oven door for any reason while they are baking, even though it's really hard to resist a peek!  They will collapse if you do.  Once they are golden brown and there are no more "sweat" bubbles on their tops, remove them from the oven.  Poke each one with a fork or skewer to allow the steam to escape.

Next step, while the pastries are baking and then cooling:
For the Filling:
4 egg yolks
2 1/2 cups whole milk
1/3 c. sugar
1/3 c. cornstarch
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
2 T. unsalted butter

In a saucepan, combine the sugar, salt, and cornstarch.  Whisk the milk and egg yolks into the mixture.  Cook on medium heat, stirring constantly - being sure to scrape sides and bottom well.  Cook until mixture bubbles, then reduce heat to low and continue to stir constantly.  Once mixture thickens and coats spoon, remove from heat and add butter and vanilla.  Pour into heat-safe bowl, cover surface with plastic wrap (to prevent skin from forming) and chill in refridgerator until cooled (about 2 hours).

Next step, while the pastry cream is chilling:

For the Ganache:
1 cup dark chocolate chips
1/2 cup heavy cream

Heat the cream in the microwave or on the stove top until steamy.  Pour over the chocolate chips and allow to site for 2 minutes, then stir to incorporate.  While mixture is still warm, dip the top of each eclair into it, then allow them to cool.

Last step:

Put pastry cream into a pastry bag with large tip or a plastic baggie with the corner cut off.  Pipe into one end of eclair until filled.  If this does not work, carefully slice the top off just below the ganache topping and fill.

Enjoy! Try not to eat them all in one sitting!

1 comment:

  1. "a very impressive dessert" Very impressive indeed! These look delicious. I will definitely have to try them out to impress the husband!