It is Friday night and I am sitting here finishing my post about Éclairs while I am doing laundry – I am very thankful that we have a washer and a dryer in our apartment unit because it is not easy to find an apartment that has in-unit laundry amenity within affordable price range in San Francisco. Anyway, I have been working on this post for a very long long time and I hope I can post it before I go to bed tonight. So, if you see ‘Friday night’ instead ‘Saturday morning,’ well, you know what that means. 🙂
I learned about Éclairs from Ina Garten’s show, Barefoot Contessa on the Foodnetwork channel. Actually she was making Cream Puffs on that episode, but later, I learned that Cream Puffs and Éclairs use the same dough called pâte à choux. They are just piped into different shapes. That was the time that I was watching the Foodnetwork channel from the time my husband left for work to the time my husband came home – all day long, 5 days a week plus weekend, and all year around. My husband didn’t appreciate it, but guess what? I had learned SO MANY THINGS about cooking and baking by watching the Foodnetwork channel.
This is just my opinion, but I think Éclair (or Cream Puffs) is one of the sweets that beginners can easily make without worrying about all the mysterious questions that start with ‘why isn’t it…’ I was surprised by how pâte à choux is made as I never thought that I could cook dough even before I bake them. I was also amazed by how these little balls puff without any baking soda or baking power! Well, enough of talking about how I was amazed by these things. Let’s start what we need and what we need to do!
INGREDIENTS & EQUIPMENT
IngredientsPâte à choux
1 cup Whole or low-fat Milk
8 Tbsp (1 stick) Unsalted Butter (diced)
2 Tbsp Sugar
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract (optional)
1 cup Bread Flour (sifted)
3 Large Eggs
1 Large Egg White (Save the extra egg yolk for egg wash)
Here is how to make Pastry Cream.Chocolate Glaze
1/2 cup + 1 Tbsp Heavy Cream
1 Tbsp Corn Syrup
8 oz Semisweet or Bittersweet Chocolate chips
Combine the cream and corn syrup in a heavy saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Remove the pan from the heat and add chocolate chips. Let them rest for a couple of minutes, then stir until the chocolate is completely melted and the sauce is smooth.
Stand mixer or Hand Mixer
Pastry bag and decorating tips #808 or #828 (If you don’t have them, zip lock bag and scissors)
HOW TO MAKEPreparation
Measure all the ingredients before you start. I used to measure and prep as I go – thought this works, preparing ahead actually saves more time.Making Pâte à choux
1. Shift 1 cup of bread flour.
2. Dice butter. Pour milk in a saucepan or pot. Add diced butter, sugar, salt, and vanilla extract (optional).
3. Bring to a boil over high heat and stir them well. You may preheat the oven to 375 F at this point.
4. Reduce the heat to medium, add the sifted flour all at once. Yes, all at once! Trust me on this one. Nothing bad is going to happen. Wait, am I the only one who is freaking out? 🙂 Back to the step, stir constantly with a wooden spoon until the dough begins to come away from the sides of the pan (see the bottom right photo above). It will take a few minutes.
5. Separate 1 large egg and combine the egg white with the other 3 large eggs. Save the egg yolk – you can use it for making egg wash! Transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle and beat at medium speed until cooled to body temperature. (If you feel warmness – that’s about the right temperature.) Add the eggs one at a time, beating well and scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula after each addition. The bottom right photo is what it should look like – smooth silky texture with pale yellow color.
6. Transfer the dough to a pastry bag with a plain round tip (#808) or star tip (#828) – I used a star shape tip this time. Pipe the dough into 5-inch-long cylinders on the parchment-lined (or well greased with butter) baking sheets about 2 inches apart. Wet your fingertip with water and press the tip of piped dough, so they get baked evenly.
7. Brush each Éclair with egg wash (1 egg yolk + 2 Tbsp milk) for even better golden brown color!
8. Bake the Éclairs until they are puffed and light golden brown for 20 minutes. There may be beads of moisture on the sides. Then, lower the oven temperature to 325 F and continue to bake until the eclairs look dry, maybe 20 minutes more.
9. Aren’t they pretty?!?! 🙂 Transfer the Éclairs to wire racks. Make sure that you let them cool completely before filling.Filling Éclairs
Pierce a hole in both ends of each cooked eclair using a narrow tip or a skewer. A chopstick works as well. Fill the pastry bag with the pastry cream and pipe into the Éclair from each end.
Or, you can slice it in half horizontally, like a hotdog bun. Then, fill the middle with pastry cream.
SERVING & STORING
Serving: Refrigerate until the chocolate glaze firms for 15-30 minutes, then serve.
Storing: It is best to make and serve Éclairs on the same day – they are crispier and better! However, if you need to store them, I recommend you to freeze rather than refrigerate!
- Making Pâte à choux: Stand mixer is more convenient, but a hand mixer should work as well. Whisk won’t work very well on this one.
- Piping Pâte à choux: Zip lock bag and scissors can substitute pastry bag and decorating tips for piping pâte à choux or filling pastry cream.
- Baking Eclairs: If you are using non-stick baking pan, preheat the over to 350 F instead 375 F. I am still experimenting, but I have found out the dark non-stick pan tends to burn my pastries.
- Baking Eclairs: Forgot to brush Éclairs with egg wash? It’s OK. It helps for golden brown color, but it is not crucial.
- Filling Eclairs: Important! You must cool Éclairs completely before you fill them with pasty cream.
- Making Filling: If pastry cream is too heavy for you, combine pastry cream and whipped cream in 1:1 ratio and use as filling. This is my favorite filling for both Éclairs and Cream Puffs.
You know I don’t have to tell you how good they were. But, they were fantastic! Éclairs are much better when they are chilled, so little patient will give you more pleasant – I have to tell this to myself all the time because I cannot wait until sweets are cooled. By the way, this is my husband’s hand – holding Éclair. I caught him stealing and eating my Éclairs before I refrigerate them. So, I made him hold it for a photo shoot.
I hope you enjoy them! Have a nice weekend, everyone!