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Monday, April 20, 2015

Eclairs au chocolat, basic and delicious

Eclairs au chocolat are one of my favorite desserts in the category "I cannot make them and have to buy them". I only like the éclairs filled with chocolate pastry cream and I have tried many in Lausanne's bakery shops and abroad - in the US I stopped trying them after finding out that they were often filled with custard or whipped cream, I felt too deceived :-)

After taking the pastry course at Benoit Violier I had decided to practice and replicate what I had learned there, among other things pâte à choux. This weekend I finally went on to try and make this and fill my little choux with chocolate cream to obtain éclairs au chocolat. It was my first time using a piping bag, my first time making pâte à choux (which is unlike other doughs more tricky), and my first time making chocolate cream... I failed a few things on the first round, like making my choux fall after rising, undercooking them, and burning my chocolate cream. But in the second round, I succeeded and made excellent éclairs (and mini-éclairs) au chocolat that disappeared within 10 minutes :-p

Eclairs au chocolat, a French dessert par excellence, can be made within 1 hour if you are well organized. Don't be discouraged by the number of steps in the recipe, every component can be made quite quickly, and the reward at the end is totally worth the effort. Enjoy!

Recipe for many éclairs au chocolat (12 big ones)

Pâte à choux (choux pastry dough)

1.25 dl milk
1.25 dl water
2.5 g salt
5 g sugar
112.5 g butter
137.5 g flour
5 eggs, room T

In a saucepan heat up milk, water, salt, sugar and butter. When butter is melted bring to a boil and remove from the heat. Add flour all at once and mix fast with a wooden spoon. Put back on the fire and continue mixing until the dough is compact and detaches from the sides (this step is to dry or dehydrate the dough).

Transfer dough to a cold bowl and wait 5 min for the dough to cool down a bit. Add eggs one by one, mixing vigorously in between each with a wooden spoon.

Transfer dough to a piping/pastry bag with a round nozzle and lay down éclairs or puffs (as you prefer) on an oven plate lined with parchment paper. For éclairs I suggest making 3 x 10 cm shapes and for puffs something around 3-5 cm.

Bake in the oven 25-30 min at 180 C, until golden brown.

Chocolate pastry cream

30 g corn starch (maizena)
40 g powder sugar
4 dl milk
4 egg yolks
40 g powder sugar
200 g dark chocolate

Chop up or grate chocolate and transfer to a bowl.
Beat up egg yolks and powder sugar until whitish and fluffy. In a saucepan heat up milk, corn starch and powder sugar while mixing with a whisk. Bring it to a boil and then remove from heat. Add some of the milk mix to the egg mix and whisk. Add back to the sauce pan and put back on the fire. Whisk and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and pour on top of the chocolate in a bowl. Mix until the chocolate is melted. Cover the cream with plastic foil and refrigerate for 20 min.

Poke a hole in the puffs or 2 wholes in the éclairs (on the bottom surface). Transfer the pastry cream to a piping bag with a small nozzle and fill the puffs/éclairs via the hole(s) you just made.

Chocolate icing

75 g dark chocolate
75 g liquid cream

Heat up the cream and add to the chocolate. Mix until the chocolate has melted. Dip the upper surface of the éclairs in the glacage and let it dry. Now you can enjoy your éclair au chocolat!

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