Chocolate Éclair

113
WHAT'S SPECIAL
An éclair is a classic French pastry made from choux pastry dough, filled with creamy pastry cream or custard, and topped with a glossy chocolate glaze. It is known for its elongated shape and decadent flavor.

PRECISION IN PASTRY:
THE IMPORTANCE OF MEASURING IN GRAMS

In the realm of pastry making, precision is paramount. Each ingredient plays a crucial role in determining the texture, flavor, and overall success of the final product. When it comes to delicate pastries like choux pastry, where the perfect balance of ingredients is vital for achieving the desired lightness and structure, measuring in grams rather than relying on volume measurements like cups or tablespoons becomes essential.

Accuracy in Measurement:

Measuring ingredients in grams provides a level of accuracy that volume measurements simply cannot match. Flour, for example, can vary significantly in weight depending on factors such as humidity, settling, and how it’s packed into a measuring cup. In contrast, grams provide a consistent and standardized unit of measurement, ensuring that each component is precisely portioned for optimal results.

For choux pastry, where the dough’s consistency is critical for proper rising and puffing during baking, precise measurements are non-negotiable. Too much flour can result in a dense, heavy dough that fails to expand, while too little can lead to a runny batter that collapses in the oven.

In the world of pastry making, where precision is the key to perfection, weighing ingredients in grams offers the assurance of consistency and reliability, allowing bakers to achieve professional-quality results every time.

Chocolate Éclair

The chocolate éclair, a beloved French pastry, has its origins in France and has been enjoyed since the 19th century. The word "éclair" means "lightning" in French, which is thought to refer to the speed at which one can enjoy this delicious treat.
With its crisp choux pastry shell, luscious chocolate pastry cream filling, and rich chocolate glaze, each bite of these éclairs is a heavenly delight. Whether you're hosting a special occasion or simply craving a sweet indulgence, these homemade éclairs are sure to steal the show.
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Cooling Time 1 hour
Total Time 2 hours 10 minutes
Servings 10 éclairs

Equipment

  • 2 Medium saucepans
  • Wooden spoon or spatula
  • Piping bag fitted with a large round tip (1 French star piping tip or plain: about ½ inch in diameter + 1 small round piping tip)
  • Baking sheet lined with parchment paper
  • whisk
  • mixing bowls
  • Saucepan for chocolate glaze
  • 2 bowls (for chocolate and gelatin)

Ingredients
  

For the Choux Pastry

  • 63 g water
  • 62 g milk
  • 60 g butter
  • 3 g sugar
  • 2 g salt
  • 80 g all-purpose flour
  • 125 g eggs 2 to 3 eggs

For the Pastry Cream Filling:

  • 50 cl milk (500 ml)
  • 60 g egg yolks (about 4)
  • 40 g sugar
  • 25 g cornstarch
  • 20 g all-purpose flour
  • 20 g butter
  • 100 g chocolate (dark)
  • ½ tbsp cocoa power (no sugar added)
  • 2 sheets gelatin (4 g)

For the Chocolate Glaze:

  • 100 g heavy cream
  • 100 g chocolate (dark) (finely chopped)
  • 20 g butter

Instructions
 

For the choux pastry:

  • Preheat your oven to 400°F (200°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Prepare the equipment: baking sheet, lined with parchment paper, piping bag and tip.
  • In a medium saucepan, combine water, milk, butter, sugar and salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat.
  • Remove the saucepan from the heat. Add the flour all at once and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon.
  • Return the saucepan to low heat and continue to cook the dough for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly, to dry it out slightly, until the mixture forms a smooth dough and pulls away from the sides of the pan.
  • Remove the saucepan from the heat and let it cool for 5 minutes.
  • Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition until the dough is smooth and glossy. 1
  • Transfer the dough to a piping bag fitted with a round tip. Pipe 4-inch-long strips onto the prepared baking sheet, leaving space between each éclair. 2
  • Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 350°F (180°C) and continue baking for an additional 10-15 minutes, or until the éclairs are golden brown and puffed. 3
  • Remove from the oven and let them cool completely on a wire rack. 4

For the Pastry Cream Filling:

  • Place the gelatin sheets in a bowl of cold water. Make sure the water completely covers the sheets. Let the gelatin sheets soak for about 5 to 10 minutes until they become soft and pliable. The sheets will absorb water and expand during this process.
  • Melt the chocolate (microwave). Set aside.
  • In a saucepan, heat the milk over medium heat until steaming but not boiling.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar, until pale. Add flour and cornstarch and whisk until creamy.
  • Gradually pour the hot milk into the egg mixture, whisking constantly.
  • Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened (about 2 minutes, no more).
  • Remove from heat and stir in the butter, then gelatin (squeeze out any excess water from the softened gelatin sheets) and melted chocolate. Transfer to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly onto the surface of the pastry cream to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until chilled.

For the Chocolate Glaze:

  • In a small saucepan, heat the heavy cream until steaming but not boiling.
  • Remove from heat and add the chopped chocolate and butter. Let it sit for 1-2 minutes, then whisk until smooth and glossy.
  • Let the glaze cool slightly before using.

Assembly:

  • Once the éclairs and pastry cream are completely cooled, use a sharp knife to make a small slit on the side of each éclair.
  • Transfer the chilled pastry cream to a piping bag fitted with a small round tip. Pipe the cream into each éclair through the slit until filled.
  • Dip the top of each éclair into the chocolate glaze, allowing any excess glaze to drip off.
  • Place the glazed éclairs on a wire rack set over a baking sheet to allow the glaze to set.

Notes

  1. Pastry Dough Consistency: The key to successful choux pastry is the right consistency. It should be smooth and shiny, holding its shape but still soft enough to pipe. If the dough is too stiff, add a tiny bit more egg.
  2. Piping Éclairs: When piping the éclairs onto the baking sheet, keep the piping bag at a 45-degree angle and pipe evenly. To avoid peaks, dip your finger in water and gently pat down the ends.
  3. Baking: Do not open the oven door while the éclairs are baking, as the draft can cause them to collapse. Bake until they are golden brown and feel hollow. If they're taken out too early, they might collapse.
  4. Cooling: Let the éclairs cool completely before filling. This helps prevent the filling from becoming runny due to residual heat.
  5. Filling the Éclairs: Use a piping bag with a narrow nozzle to fill your éclairs. Insert the nozzle into three points along the bottom of each éclair to evenly distribute the filling.
  6. Chocolate Glaze: For a smooth, glossy finish, ensure your chocolate glaze is at the right temperature—not too hot, to avoid melting the filling, and not too cold, to ensure it spreads evenly.
  7. Storage: Éclairs are best enjoyed the day they are made. However, you can store unfilled pastry shells in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 day or freeze them for longer storage. Fill them just before serving to prevent them from becoming soggy.
  8. Customizing: Feel free to customize your éclairs with different fillings and toppings. Vanilla pastry cream is traditional, but chocolate, coffee, or fruit-flavored creams can add a delicious twist.
  9. Practice: Making éclairs is as much about technique as it is about the recipe. Don't get discouraged if your first batch isn't perfect; practice makes perfect.
  10. Serving: For an elegant presentation, dust your éclairs with powdered sugar or drizzle with chocolate before serving. They're a perfect match for coffee or tea.
Keyword Chocolate, Éclair, French Pastry

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