Crisp, airy pastry filled with vanilla cream covered in delicious chocolate. Éclairs are fantastically indulgent and one of my favourite treats.
I love éclairs – fresh cream and chocolate can never be a bad thing. The choux pastry acts a tasty shell for the softly whipped cream and is then smothered with melted chocolate. I was inspired to make these by GBBO, however I was definitely not even slightly tempted to make a structure out of them like the contestants did! I haven’t baked along for a couple of weeks now due to being on holiday for pastry week and then just not being interested in Victorian baking. So when I realised éclairs were on the show, I knew I coudn’t give them a miss.
I’ve only made choux pastry once before when I was in my third year of uni. Don’t all third year uni students spend their evenings baking? It was my friend’s birthday and I can’t remember if I asked her what she would like me to make her, or whether I just remembered her telling me her Nan usually makes her profiteroles. Anyway, I decided to make profiteroles for her. Unfortunately there is no photographic evidence of the profiteroles, but I do remember them being huge, much more like choux buns. She did say they were very tasty though, but she is so lovely she could have just been being polite!
So four years later, I decided it was time to give choux pastry another go. I chose Paul Hollywood’s recipe because I thought it was a safe bet (http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/pauls_chocolate_clairs_59944). I was really chuffed with how they turned out! The only thing I will change next time is to put slightly more pressure on the piping bag as I’m piping the dough as this creates a slightly fatter éclair. Some of the first one’s I piped were a little thin as I didn’t put much pressure on the piping bag. They still looked good, but they didn’t have as much room inside for the cream! So a nice thick éclair means more room for cream!
I took these to my friend’s house who was holding an Afternoon Tea as a baby shower for another of our friends. The éclairs went down very well, someone said they were exactly like shop bought éclairs. Rien said they tasted even better than éclairs you can buy in shops – very unlike him to give such a nice compliment unprompted!
For the choux pastry
65g plain flour
pinch of salt
50g unsalted butter
- Preheat the oven to 200ºC and line a baking tray with baking parchment
- Put 120ml of water into a medium sized pan along with the salt and butter. Heat gently until the butter melts making sure you do not let the water boil
- Once the butter has melted, quickly bring the mixture to the boil and then add the flour. Remove the pan from the heat and beat furiously with a wooden spoon until it comes together in a smooth dough
- Put the pan back on a low heat and beat for a minute to slightly cook the dough, it should come away from the sides of the pan and become smooth and glossy
- Tip into a bowl to cool until it is only slightly warm
- Beat the eggs and then gradually add them to the dough and mix. Keep adding the egg until the dough falls off a spoon when lightly shaken
- Spoon the dough into a piping bag with a 1.25cm plain nozzle. Pipe 12, 10cm lengths onto the baking tray
- Sprinkle the tray, not the dough, with a few drops of water and bake in the oven for 15 minutes
- Without opening the oven, reduce the oven to 170ºC and bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown and crisp
- Take the tray out of the oven and make a small hole in the side of each éclair with a skewer to allow the steam to escape. Put them back in the oven for 5 minutes
- Allow the éclairs to cool completely on a wire rack
For the filling
200ml whipping cream
5 tsp icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
- Whip the cream with the sugar and vanilla until soft peaks form
- Carefully cut down the side of each éclair and pipe in the whipped cream
For the topping
100g milk chocolate
- Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water – make sure the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl
- Spoon chocolate in a strip over each éclair. Allow the chocolate to set before serving
Make sure you head to www.mummymishaps.co.uk and www,bluebirdsunshine.co.uk to see what else people have baked for #GBBOBloggers2015