Tuesday 18 October 2016

Chocolate Éclairs

Last time I did these I had a complete nightmare...burning them, getting weird, lumpy shapes, and generally not doing that well, so I went back and re-read my notes, and tried to clean up the process. I've also recently had issues with overly slack custards.

One thing it made me realise is that I need to nail down my recipes for the "Basics"...an eclair is a great example...it's 3 very basic recipes (choux, crème patisserie and ganache), all of which I should be very confident about doing, and I should stick to one recipe. These actually came out really well, so I should nail down these recipe components, and build up some kind of reference for all the basic recipes that I use a lot (typically pastry, dough, jam, ganache, custard etc etc, the fundamental building blocks of baking...)

Anyhow, these came out pretty well...the ganache topping is a little...informal, and I should probably dip them for better results (these were piped and spread with a palette knife). The recipe made enough for about 15-16 éclairs, though I did 12, and then some rings with the leftovers. You'll note I use weights for the liquids...it's far easier pouring into a saucepan on some scales than trying to be accurate with a measuring jug! This recipe also uses a lot of bowls and saucepans, so be ready to do some washing up...

Chocolate Éclairs - Recipe

  • Pre-heat Oven to 190'C
  • Line a large baking tray with baking parchment

Choux Ingredients

  • 100g full fat milk
  • 100g water
  • 100g butter
  • 3g salt
  • 8g caster sugar
  • 60g plain flour
  • 60g strong flour
  • 3 large eggs
1) Put the milk, water, butter, sugar and salt into a saucepan

2) Put over a low heat and stir until the butter and sugar have melted, and the mixture is just starting to boil

3) Take off the heat, and add in the flours, stirring vigorously to form a paste

4) Return to a low heat and stir continuously for 2-3 minutes, until the dough comes together, and pulls away from the sides

5) Transfer the dough to a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, and mix for 2-3 minutes to cool it down and smooth the mixture

6) Beat and add the eggs, and mix hard for 5-6 minutes, to form a smooth, glossy, pipeable dough

7) Transfer the dough to a large piping bag with a large open-star nozzle attachment

8) Pipe 12-16 éclairs on the baking tray, about 2-3cm apart. I drew some guidelines on the back of the baking parchment, and was aiming for éclairs 13-14cm long.

9) Trim the ends with a pair of wet scissors, to neaten up the éclairs

10) Sprinkle the baking sheet with a little water (wet your hand, then shake it over the tray)

11) Bake for 30 minutes. Keep an eye on them, and if they are browning too much reduce the temperature by 10'C

12) After 30 minutes, turn off the oven and crack the door, but leave the éclairs in there to dry out for another 15 minutes.

13) While the éclairs are baking, make the custard.

Crème Patisserie Ingredients

  • 500ml full fat milk
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 120g caster sugar
  • 50g cornflour
  • 45g softened butter
  • Seeds from 1 vanilla pod
1) Put the yolks, caster sugar and cornflour in a large heatproof bowl

2) Using an electric hand-mixer, beat until thick and pale

3) Put the milk and vanilla seeds in a medium sized saucepan

4) Heat the milk over a low heat, stirring, until it just begins to boil

5) While beating the yolk mixture, slowly pour the milk in

6) Once fully combined, pour the custard through a sieve into a large, clean saucepan

7) Continue to beat the mixture over a low/medium heat until it begins to thicken. This happens quite quickly once it starts, so be ready

8) Take off the heat, and beat in the butter until fully combined

9) Pour the custard onto a baking tray (with a lip), spread out and cover with cling-film. Place in a fridge to chill


1) Take the éclairs out of the oven, and put on a wire rack to cool completely

2) Create a hole at each end (I use the point of some scissors). The hole wants to be the same size as a Bismarck piping nozzle (for obvious reasons)

3) Take the cooled custard, and hand whisk it to loosen it up. Transfer it to a piping bag with a bismarck piping nozzle

4) Fill both sides of the éclair with the custard (no-one has ever complained about too much custard, be generous!)

Ganache Ingredients

  • 200g dark (50%) chocolate
  • 150g double cream
1) Chop the chocolate up into small pieces,and place in a heatproof bowl

2) Put the cream in a small saucepan over a low heat, stirring occasionally

3) Just before the cream begging to boil, take off the heat

4) Pour over the chocolate, and leave for 3-4 minutes to let the chocolate melt

5) Stir vigorously to produce a smooth, glossy ganache

6) Once it has cooled and thickened slightly, spread generously over the éclairs

7) Leave in a cool place to solidify