Ah Master Chef….
These were featured as a pressure test this past season and while many of the pressure tests might have made me sweat I would have won this one. Sorry, I don’t mean to brag, but seriously these are not hard at all.
Choux pastry is so terribly versatile and a breeze to make. I feel like I say this at least once a month but… while these may be a tad time consuming, they are very very easy to do.
You do not need to have to piping skills to make these beauties. Mercifully they are covered in ganache so no one really cares what they look like. Besides I am more concerned about getting these in my mouth than if they are less than perfectly shaped. Also eclairs are one of those incredibly forgiving dessert.
The one technical part to these is filling them. I do have a filling tip for my pastry bag and that made it go so smoothly. Also I cheated a bit and made mini eclairs (about three bites) so getting the filling all the way through wasn’t that big of a challenge. If you make bigger eclairs I would encourage you to pipe the pastry cream in both ends and do so slowly. If you pay attention you can clearly tell where the filling is in your pastry.
And the smugness factor is huge. Friends come over to play board games and you can serve up homemade eclairs. I like feeling smug when it comes to baking. But mostly I just love feeding my friends and family delicious food.
P.S. I didn’t just make eclairs on a whim. I made a batch to donate to the March of Dimes Signature Chefs dessert auction. It was an honor to participate. I support the March of Dimes and their goal of working towards a day when all babies are born healthy. To learn more visit www.marchofdimes.com/oregon/
One year ago today: Rosemary lemon BBQ chicken
Chocolate eclairs (makes about 2 dozen small)
From Martha Stewart
Pate a Choux (Choux Pastry)
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
4 large eggs, plus 1 large egg white
6 large egg yolks
1 large egg
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups milk
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup heavy cream
4 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
Make the pate a choux- Bring butter, sugar, salt, and 1 cup water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Remove from heat. Using a wooden spoon, quickly stir in flour. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until mixture pulls away from sides and a film forms on bottom of pan, about 3 minutes. Transfer to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until slightly cooled, about 1 minute. Raise speed to medium; add whole eggs, 1 at a time, until a soft peak forms when batter is touched with your finger. If peak does not form, lightly beat remaining egg white, and mix it into batter a little at a time until it does.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.with a rack in the center. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Fill a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch round tip with pate a choux batter; pipe out oblong shapes, about 3 1/2 inches long and 1 inch wide, onto prepared baking sheets at 2-inch intervals. Transfer the sheet to the oven. Bake 10 minutes; reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees. Bake until golden brown, 20-25 minutes more. Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly. Raise heat back to 425 degrees and repeat process with remaining batch. If serving immediately, fill eclairs while still warm so they can take more cream; if filling at a later time, insert a skewer into one end, and move it around to expand opening for cream; set aside.
Make the pastry cream- In a medium bowl, combine egg yolks, egg, and 2 tablespoons sugar. Add cornstarch and flour; whisk until smooth and pale yellow. Set aside. In a medium saucepan, combine milk and remaining 3/4 cup sugar. Stir over medium-high heat until milk begins to steam. Whisking constantly, add half the hot milk to the egg-yolk mixture. Stir until smooth; add combined mixture back to remaining hot milk in the pan. Bring mixture to a boil, whisking rapidly to prevent scorching. Remove from heat, and stir in butter and vanilla. Strain through a fine sieve into a medium bowl. Place over ice bath and let stand, stirring frequently, until cool. Remove from ice bath, and press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto surface until ready to use. If not using immediately, refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
Assembly and ganache- Fill a pastry bag fitted with a coupler and filling tip with pastry cream. Insert tip into one end of each eclair; fill. To make the glaze, heat cream in a small saucepan. Pour over chocolate in a small bowl. Let stand until chocolate is melted, stir until smooth. Dip top of each eclair into glaze; let excess drip off before turning over. Transfer to a wire rack to allow glaze to set.