According to the French-English dictionary, éclair means lightning/flash of lighting. The question is if they were named éclairs because one can eat them with the speed of light or because their beauty can strike like lightning and make you fall in love with them. Hmmm…
I am used with the classic éclair filled with chocolate or vanilla cream and topped with chocolate ganache, but nowadays I see that experts in the culinary art are transforming them in superb desserts, the type that I can eat with my eyes but not quite dare because they are so beautiful (and quite expensive as well). Anyway, my attempt of making eclairs had an ok result, far from the beauties one can see in the pictures from french patissiers, in regards of their look…but, I dare to say they were tasty since they sort of vanished from the plate (and I was partially responsible for it 😉 ). So, I am content with the result – tasty eclairs with an ok look. Maybe next time I will impress with the looks as well 🙂 (I can hope at least).
Enjoy it with a smile! 🙂
- YIELD: 30 shells (10 cm / 4 inches to 12 cm / 5 inches long)
Choux pastry (pâte à choux)
- 115 g (4 ounces) cake flour
- 155 g (5 1/2 ounces) bread flour
- 480 ml (1 pint) water
- 170 g (6 ounces) unsalted butter
- 2.5 g (1/2 tsp) salt
- 480 ml (1 pint) eggs
- 1 g (1/4 tsp) ammonium carbonate
- 1 jar of apricot jam sieved
- powder sugar for dusting
- 285 g (10 ounces) sweet dark chocolate
- 960 ml (1 quart) heavy cream
- 180 ml (3/4 cup) whole milk
- 85 g (3 ounces) granulated sugar
- Shells: Sift the flours together on a sheet of baking paper and reserve.
Heat the water, butter and salt to a full rolling boil, so that the fat is not just floating on the top but is dispersed throughout the liquid.
Using a wooden spoon, stir the flour into the liquid, adding it as fast as it can be absorbed. Avoid adding all of the flour at once, as this can make the paste lumpy.
Cook, stirring constantly and breaking up the inevitable lumps by pressing them against the side of the pan with the back of the spoon, until the mixture forms a mass and pulls away from the sides of the pan, about 2 to 3 minutes.
Transfer the paste into a mixing bowl. Let the paste cool slightly so the eggs will not cook when they are added.
Mix in the eggs, 2 at a time, using the paddle attachment of the mixer, on low or medium speed. After the first few eggs are incorporated, add the ammonium carbonate. Add as many eggs as the paste can absorb and still hold its shape when piped.
Place the paste in a pastry bag with a 16 mm star tip. Pipe out a 10 – 12 cm (4 – 5 inches) long strips onto sheet pans lined with baking paper. Leave space between them.
Dust them with a thin layer of powdered sugar.
Bake at 210°C (425°F) until fully puffed and starting to show some color, about 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 190°C (375°F) and bake about 10 to 12 minutes longer, depending on size.
Let them cool at room temperature.
- Filling (Creme Parisienne): Chop the chocolate into small pieces and reserve.
Bring the cream, milk and sugar to a boil in a saucepan. Remove from the heat and whisk in the chopped chocolate. Continue to stir until the chocolate is completely dissolved. Cool and refrigerate before whipping.
Whip the cream just before usage.
- Assembly: The are two options on how to fill the éclairs: cut off the top of each shell, place the filling in the bottom half and then place the top half on top of it or using a small knife make a small cut in the bottom of the shells and then use the prepared pastry bag fitted with a narrow piping tip to fill them in.
Regardless of the method used for filling, after the shells are filled up, brush them on top with the sieved apricot jam. When the jam has formed a skin, dip the top half of the eclair in melted candy melts or ganache. You can leave them without topping or you can just drizzle them with some melted chocolate.