I love chocolate éclairs, be it with the traditional custard filing, ice cream or my families version with whipped cream. I find it quite easy to substitute éclairs for any meal, and just between you and me, that meal is often breakfast.
According to Wikipedia the éclair most likely originated in France during the nineteenth century, allegedly created by Antonin Carême, the famous French chef (and genius in my mind).
For me, chocolate éclairs say party-time, partly because I only ever indulge at celebrations, but also because they are a celebration as you bite through the delicious layers of heavenly light pastry, luscious cream and chocolate.
Despite looking complex, making decadent chocolate éclairs is easier than it first appears. The choux pastry is quick and uncomplicated, much easier than making other pastries (i.e. short crust pastry). I’d love you to give his recipe a try, you won’t be disappointed, neither will your family and friends!
It’s important to note that the chocolate topping recipe here has been adapted from Gourmet Traveller’s chocolate éclair recipe.
Makes 30 mini éclairs
1 cup (250ml) water
1/2 cup (125g) unsalted butter, chopped
1 cup (150g) plain flour, sifted
Pinch of sea salt
4 free-range or organic eggs, room temperature
1 1/4 cups (300ml) thickened cream
2-3 tablespoons caster or icing sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (optional)
1/4 cup (60ml) thickened cream
200g dark chocolate (40% cocoa solids), coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1) Preheat oven to 190°C and line 2-3 trays with baking paper. Bring water and butter to the boil (over medium-high heat), ensuring butter is melted. Add all the flour and salt at once, beat vigorously with a wooden spoon to incorporate and continue beating until mixture leaves the sides of the pan (about 1 minute). Remove from heat and set aside for 5-10 minutes to cool.
2) Add eggs, one at a time, beating vigorously to incorporate after each addition until well combined.
3) Spoon choux pastry into pipping bag fitted with 2cm plain nozzle. Pipe into 6cm lengths (12cm for larger éclairs) and 4cm apart. Bake for 30 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 150°C and bake for a further 15 minutes. Remove from oven and prick pastries with a skewer or tip of a small knife and bake for further 5 minutes. Transfer the éclairs to a wire rack to cool at room temperature, then halve lengthways using a bread knife and set aside.
Note: If you don’t have a piping bag use two spoons to form rustic pastry mounds.
4) Meanwhile whisk cream, icing sugar and vanilla bean paste (if using) until soft peaks form (3-5 minutes), refrigerate until required.
5) For chocolate topping, combine cream and chocolate in a small saucepan over low heat and stir until chocolate melts and mixture combines. Stir in vegetable oil and keep warm.
6) Remove cream from fridge and spoon into piping bag filled with 2cm nozzle and pipe into eclair halves, then dip pastry top into chocolate and place over cream. Serve immediately or refrigerate and serve chilled.
- The pastry can be used straight away or left to rest for up to 40 minutes, covered with plastic wrap.
- Do not open the oven during cooking or the pastry will collapse.
- Éclairs will keep in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
- Cooked choux pastry (not filled) stores well in the freezer for up to 3 weeks.