An eclair is a pastry made with choux dough filled with a cream and topped with icing.The dough is piped into an oblong shape with a pastry bag and baked until it is crisp and hollow inside.It can be filled with pastrycream, custard,whipped cream and chiboust cream. Then it is dipped with chocolate ganache or chocolate fondant icing.The first memory that comes to my mind when I think about eclairs is our school cafeteria, and of course it wasn’t a great memory because they weren’t good eclairs. I think the key to good eclair is in the pastry cream. This recipe has the best tasting pastry cream ever. This is recipe is from the the book Baking by James Peterson, I like this book a lot and plan to make more recipes from it.
Yields 12 eclairs
1 recipe cream puff pastry dough ( below)
2 1/2 pastry cream ( below)
2 cups chocolate Ganache (below)
makes about 2 1/2 cups
2 cups milk
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup plus 1tbs sugar
3 egg yolks
1/4 cup cornstarch.
Bring the milk to a simmer in a heavy bottomed sauce pan over medium heat and add vanilla.
In a bowl whisk together the sugar, egg, egg yolks, and cornstarch until smooth. When the milk comes to a simmer , stir half of it in the egg mixture. Pour the egg mixture back into the sauce pan containing the rest of the milk, place over medium heat and stir the mixture . When stiring reach the for the sides of the sauce pan so the mixture doesn’t dry on the sides.
When the pastry cream boils and thickens, Transfer to a bowl cover with a plastic wrap touching its surface so a crust doesn’t form on the top. It can be refrigerated up to 4 days.
Cream Puff Pastry Dough: ( Choux)
makes about 1 1/2 lb dough
1 cup water
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter sliceded
1 tsp sugar
1 cup flour sifted
1 egg white plus more as needed
Combine water, salt, butter and sugar in a saucepan and bring to simmer over highheat.There is no need to stir. Turn the heat to medium and add the flour all at once. Stir with a wooden spoon for about 3 mins, or until mixture forms a cohesive mass and pulls away from sides of the saucepan. Transfer the mixture to a bowl or to a standup mixer beat with a wooden spoon or with the paddle attachment for 1 minute until slightly cooled.
beat in eggs one at a time until you added four. Check the consistency of the batter by pulling a wooden spoon through the batter, when the groove it makes slowly closes on itself, then you added enough eggs and the mixture is ready to use. If not add egg white at a time until it passes the test. Another way to test the mixture is by holding the spoon sideways and see if it drips( the dough should drip from the spoon and not stick straight out). Another test would be if you are using a stand up mixer the dough should pull away from the paddle attachment in a thick rope.The mixture is best when used immediatly , but it can be refrigerated for several hours and used later.
Dark Chocolate Ganache:
makes 2 3/4 cup to 3 cups
12 oz bitter sweet chocolate
1 2/3 cups heavy cream
Break the chocolate into pieces and process in the food processor until very fine. Heat the cream to the boiling point and while the motor is running pour it through the feed tube in a steady stream. Process few seconds until smooth.
preheat oven to 425 degrees.
fill pastry bag fitted with 1 1/2 inch tip with the pastry dough. Pipe tiny dots on the corners of the parchment sheet and turn over and press to baking pan to hold the sheet in place.
Pipe the 12 strips and brush with egg wash. ( strips should be at least 2 inches apart and about 4 1/2 inches long).depending on your pan size you might use two baking pans.
Turn down the oven to 400 degrees bake eclairs for 20 min until golden brown and puffed. Turn down the heat again to 300 degrees and bake for 25 min until eclairs feel light. If they get too brown turn down oven to 250.let them cool.
Use a 1/3 inch fit to make holes in each end at the bottom of the eclairs. Fill eclairs with pastry cream until filled. Warm chocolate until it reaches consistancy of cold maple syrup. Dip eclairs and turn upward right away to drip any excess chocolate ganache. Let them cool for 30 mins before serving.