Chocolate eclairs are yet another thing I hadn’t tried until recently. I thought they were filled with whipped cream (of which I’m not a huge fan) until I requested a taste of Will’s a few weeks ago. Boy did my view change of these little morsels of deliciousness. No whipped cream in sight just soft, chocolatey goodness. I’ve never attempted any type of pastry before so these seemed like the perfect recipe to start with.
They weren’t all that difficult to make but did require a bit of muscle. I found my recipe on Poh’s Kitchen. It was a good thing it also had a video demonstration because the actual recipe fails to mention that you need to chill the filling over night. I’m glad I found the recipe the day before I wanted to make them.
As you can imagine, there are three steps to making an eclair – the pastry, the filling and the topping.
In this recipe, you need to start with the filling the day before.
Start by bringing cream and milk to the boil. In the video, he didn’t stir at all but it made me nervous and I didn’t have enough cream to do it again if it burned so I stirred.
While that’s happening, whisk the egg yolks and sugar until they are thick and pale. Add the cream to the bowl, stir through then return the mixture to the pan and continue to heat on medium stirring constantly.
When the mixture coats the back of your spoon like this, remove it from the heat.
Add the chocolate.
Stir the mixture until it looks like…
…this. Remove to a bowl, cover and refrigerate over night. I think you could make this in the morning and the rest in the afternoon and it would be enough time for it to chill.
This is what it looks like when it’s chilled and ready. I might have had a little taste on the side (to make sure it wasn’t poisonous of course!).
Now it’s time to make the pastry. I was quite scared of doing this but they turned out brilliantly. It was a team effort on this and I hate to admit it but Will’s turned out better than mine.
Bring the milk, butter, salt and sugar to the boil.
Remove from the heat and add sifted flour. Stir through then return to the heat.
After a few seconds it will start to look like this. Then it needs to be cooked for about five minutes until it starts to dry. This is a bit of a lie though, it doesn’t really dry. I just followed the recipe and cooked it for five minutes, stirring/pushing it around the pan the whole time.
Remove the dough ball to a bowl and add the eggs, one at a time, making sure each one is well mixed in before adding the next.
Put the dough into a piping bag with a fat nozzle attached. The recipe says size 11 then further down says size 13. I don’t know what that means and only had icing nozzles so we just did it with no nozzle. They might have been a little fat but it turned out well.
I’m too embarrassed to show my logs. They were terrible! These are Will’s near-perfect ones and two little ones I did. Bake the pastry in a 190C oven for 30 minutes then turn it down to 150C for 15 minutes. Writing this I’ve just realised it doesn’t actually say fan forced which might be why ours were a little browner than I would have liked. I would probably lower those temperatures for a fan-forced oven next time. Do not open the oven while they are cooking or they will collapse. This was very difficult for me, I constantly open the oven when I’m cooking. Yes I know it’s a no-no but I like to check them out mid-bake!
Can you tell which ones are mine? Yep that’s them, the little semi-burned ones that look a bit like hot dog buns. They still tasted good despite their appearance. Leave the pastry to cool on a wire rack while you make the icing.
I completely made up the icing. There was no recipe from Poh for this. I used a combination of icing sugar with cocoa and enough water to get the right consistency. It turned out rather well if I don’t say so myself.
Place your filling in a piping bag with a large nozzle attached. Poke a hole in either end of the eclair, stick the nozzle in and pipe away. Next time I’d take the filling out of the fridge a little earlier so it has time to soften. Towards the end of the filling, when my hand was cramping and I had chocolate dripping down to my elbow I gave up and cut the last few open and spread their filling inside. They turned out just as well though. To fill the round ones, do the same with just one hole in the bottom.
To ice, simply dip the eclairs in the icing and wipe off the excess with your finger. I found it easier to spread the icing onto some of them using the spoon.
Voila, chocolate eclairs!
200 ml full cream milk
90g unsalted butter, finely diced
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
120g plain flour, sifted
200 ml of cream
130 ml milk
4 egg yolk
60g caster sugar
165g dark chocolate 70%
3 tbsp icing sugar
1/2 tbsp cocoa
enough water to reach the right consistency
Put the cream and the milk in a saucepan and heat to a boil. Whisk egg yolks and sugar together until they become a pale gold. Add the cream and cook gently, stirring constantly without boiling, till the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon. Take it off the stove and stir in the chocolate to melt. Chill in the fridge over night or for at least a few hours.
In a saucepan, combine the milk, butter, salt and sugar and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat, add the flour and mix well with a wooden spoon. Put the saucepan back on medium heat and, while mixing, cook the dough until it resembles a dry ball (about 5 minutes).
Transfer the dough to a bowl. Add the eggs one by one, mixing well each time. The pastry can be used straight away or left to rest for up to 40 minutes, covered with plastic wrap.
Preheat the oven to 190°C and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper. Put some of the choux pastry into the piping bag (do not overfill or it gets very hard to handle) with size 13 nozzle and pipe out six 12 cm long sausages onto the tray. Leave plenty of space around each one so they won’t touch during baking.
Bake for 30 minutes, and then reduce the oven temperature to 150°C and bake for a further 15 minutes. Do not open the oven during cooking or the pastry will collapse. Transfer the éclairs to a wire rack to cool.
Make a little hole in the bottom of one end of each éclair and carefully fill with the chocolate cream using a piping bag with nozzle size 6.
Make the icing by stirring all the ingredients and place in a bowl big enough to fit an eclair length-ways. In a sweeping motion, dip the éclair into the icing, lifting it upwards so that any excess icing drips off one end. Place the éclairs on a plate, fondant side up, and refrigerate until ready to serve, or eat one straight away if you’re impatient. I must admit it was worth waiting until they were chilled.