chocolate eclairs

Homemade Chocolate Eclairs

Homemade Mini Chocolate Eclairs

If you want to surprise someone with a very special sweet treat, you could make eclairs. These are a bit or work, but the end result is so wonderful. I think they are worth the effort, especially for special occasions.

I decided to make a mini version this time. Not everyone wants to eat a full size eclair, especially after a big meal.

You start by make a pate a chou, or cream puff pastry. This is the same dough used to make cream puffs. It is a combination of water, butter, milk and flour- cooked on top of the stove, then enriched with the addition of eggs. The dough is piped onto baking sheets and baked until puffed, golden and crisp. Once cooled, they are filled with sweetened whipped cream or, more traditionally, a custard filling, then topped with chocolate ganache.

 

Homemade Mini Eclairs

1 recipe Cream Puff Pastry (Pate a Chou)- recipe follows
Egg custard- for filling, or sweetened whipped cream- recipe follows
Chocolate Ganache- for topping- recipe follows

Start by making the dough. This recipe will make 12-18 medium eclairs or 3 dozen of the mini ones.

Cream Puff Pastry

¾ c. water
¼ c. milk
¼ t. salt
½ c. (1 stick) unsalted butter
1¼ c. flour – unbleached or bread flour preferred
4 large eggs
Extra milk for brushing

In saucepan, heat together water, milk butter and salt into a full boil. Butter has to be melted. While stirring, dump flour into saucepan, stirring constantly. Mixture will form into a ball. Reduce heat to medium and continue cooking dough, while stirring, for another minute or two. Place dough in an electric mixer and allow it to cool down a little before adding the eggs. Mixture has to be at 140 degrees F, or below, before you start adding the eggs. I use the paddle attachment and beat the dough before adding the eggs. This cools the dough down faster. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until each is fully incorporated. Beat until dough is shiny. A spoon, lifted out of the batter, should leave a peak that does not fall down.

Preheat oven to 425. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment. I used a silicone liner and was happy with the result. Don’t grease the pan. Using a piping bag, squeeze the dough into 2-3-inch strips on the baking sheet- leaving a little room in between. Strips should be about ¾ -inch in diameter. Using a little milk on your finger, smooth down any peaks on the puffs. They should resemble miniature hot dog buns. Bake at 425 for 10 minutes, then turn oven down to 375. Bake eclairs 10 more minutes, or until golden brown. Tap the shells. They should sound hollow. Turn off the heat and leave oven door open a crack, allowing them to dry completely. Cool before filling. Makes about 36.

Custard Filling

2 cups milk
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1⁄3 cup sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla

Using a whisk, combine milk, sugar and cornstarch in a medium saucepan over medium heat on stove top. Allow milk to scald (heat to the point when tiny bubbles form around edges of pan). Whisk occasionally to prevent cornstarch from clumping on bottom edges of pan. Remove milk mixture from heat, preferably to a burner that’s turned off.
Mix about 2 tablespoons of scalded milk mixture into eggs using whisk, then introduce eggs into milk mixture in a slow stream, whisking milk mixture constantly. Immediately return pan to heat and whisk gently until custard thickens, another two or three minutes. Do not allow to boil. (If you find that you have egg white strands in custard, feel free to pass it through a fine-mesh sieve into a different bowl now.) Remove pan from heat and stir in vanilla. Cool before using. Makes 3 cups.

To fill the eclairs, using a small piping tip with a pastry bag, filled with the custard. Squeeze filling in on one end, on through the bottom, squeezing until it seems full.

Once eclairs are filled, top with a chocolate ganache. I just dip the tops of the eclairs in the warm ganache and chill until chocolate sets. Filled eclairs should be stored i8n fridge until ready to serve. They can be frozen.

Chocolate Ganache

4- 6 oz. dark chocolate, chopped- or 1 cup chocolate chips
2 oz. heavy whipping cream

In saucepan, heat chocolate and cream together until just heated through. Remove from heat and stir until smooth. You can also do this in a microwave safe bowl, in the microwave for about a minute. Remove and stir until smooth. Makes 1 cup.