Oh the Éclair! These amazing golden soft pastries filled with whipped cream or a vanilla pastry cream. They make my mouth water and my tongue dance with happiness when they enter my mouth. Naturally when I was thinking about the Frosting Cottage Bakery in Rachelle's section my mind went right to these beautiful desserts. I am sure in every single bakery or coffee shop across the world you could find some variation of this dessert.
I wanted to keep it simple, but oh so tasty. This recipe uses a basic Choux Pastry, which is made for éclairs, profiteroles, French crullers and much more. It consists of eggs, water, butter, and flour. This simple dough puffs up and the inside becomes a beautiful hallow cavern just waiting to be filled with all sorts of goodness. When you get comfortable with making the dough and getting the technique down then experiment with shapes, sizes and the filling.
2 cups of 2% milk
1/2 cup of sugar
1 whole vanilla bean, cut in half and split with seeds scraped out
4 egg yolks
1/4 cup corn starch
2 tablespoons of salted butter
In a medium sauce pan add milk, half the sugar and the vanilla bean and seeds. Cook over medium heat and allow the mixture to come to a simmer.
In a glass bowl, whisk the egg yolks, the rest of the sugar and the cornstarch all together. Take the milk mixture off the heat and whisk it vigorously while slowly adding the to the egg mixture. Make sure to not add too fast or it will cook the eggs. Scrape the combined mixture back into the saucepan, and cook it over medium heat until it thickens. Keep whisking it to make sure it doesn't burn on the bottom. It will take about 2 to 3 minutes.
Once cooked transfer to the bowl you were using before, discard the vanilla bean's shell. With a spatula add butter a few pieces at a time until melted and incorporated into the cream. Keep stirring till it is cooled down. Cover with plastic wrap, making sure it is right up against the cream to insure that a skin won't grow. Cool at least 2 hours before using.
Basic Choux Pastry:
1 cup of water
1/4 cup of salted butter, cubed and at room temperature
1 cup of sifted all purpose flour
4 large eggs, lightly whisked
Preheat oven to 375F, line the baking sheets with parchment paper.
Whisk the eggs in a separate bowl. In a medium sized saucepan add butter and water, cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Once the butter is melted and the water is coming to a boil, remove the sauce pan from the heat and add the flour all at once. With a wooden spoon or a sturdy spatula mix the flour vigorously so that is absorbs all the water and starts forming a dough.
Return the pot back to the stove and on medium heat cook the dough for 2 to 5 minutes, you want to continue to move it around the pot until it pulls away from the sides. It will start forming oil droplets on the surface of the dough and the pot will have a bit of a thick skin on the bottom, if you stick a spoon in the dough and it stays upright it is cooked.
Scrape the dough into a large bowl, with your spatula add eggs one at a time, incorporate well after each addition. Once the dough has a shiny glossy look stop adding the eggs, and it is a pipeable consistency.
Transfer dough into a piping bag, you do not need a tip for this. On the prepared baking sheets pipe the dough into even rows about 5 inches long, and about 1 and a half inches wide, you want to make sure they are a few inches apart to allow room to puff up. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 40 minutes. Do not open the oven for the first 25 minutes, best way to watch is to turn the oven light on, make sure they are puffing up right and turning a golden brown.
Once they are golden brown and puffed up remove from oven. Prick with a toothpick to allow steam to come out and let cool completely.
Once cooled cut a small slit on one end and with the cream in a pastry bag pipe into the éclair to evenly fill it, dip the tops in melted chocolate and serve immediately.
You can store them in a container for up to 2 days in the fridge.
Isn't it amazing that some of the most delicious desserts have the simplest ingredients. What do you like to fill a cream puff of a éclair with?
Check out the rest of the Cookbook series installments, as we share with you how we brainstormed the ideas for recipes, shared the Fish Taco with Mango Salsa, and gave you an inside look into creating the recipes.
Until next time!
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