People may think I'm nuts but I'm not a big fresh cream fan. I always tend to sway more towards Chantilly cream and the likes. Even as a child I would go more in the direction of donuts,cookies and ice-cream. My family, on the other hand, adore creamy cakes and pastries so out came Rachel Allen and I whipped up some éclairs to keep them smiling!
It was my first time making choux pastry and let me tell you it is a work out. All that beating with a wooden spoon, I thought my arm was going to fall off the next day :) I was overall very happy with how the choux pastry turned out, it was lovely and light when you bit into it. Cream would burst from the most random of places which made them even more indulgent.
I actually used a Chantilly cream for the filling and chocolate icing for the topping, looking back I would probably use one or the other with fresh cream and melted chocolate for the topping as this recipe is extremely rich!
Recipe for Choux Pastry
100g plain flour
150 ml water
75 g butter
3 eggs, beaten
1. Sift the flour and a pinch of salt into a large bowl and set aside.
2. Put the water and butter into a medium-sized saucepan with high sides set over a medium-high heat and stir until the butter melts. Allow the mixture to come to a rolling boil then immediately remove the pan from the heat.
3. Add the flour and salt and beat very well with a wooden spoon until the mixture comes together.
4. Reduce the heat to medium and replace the saucepan, stirring for 1 minute until the mixture starts to ‘fur’ (slightly stick to the base of the pan). Remove from the heat and allow to cool for 1 minute.
5. Pour about one-quarter of the beaten egg into the pan and, using the wooden spoon, beat very well. Add a little more egg and beat well again until the mixture comes back together. Continue to add the egg, beating vigorously all the time, until the mixture has softened, is nice and shiny and has a dropping consistency. You may not need to add all the egg or you may need a little extra. If the mixture is too stiff (not enough egg) then the choux pastries will be too heavy, but if the mixture is too wet (too much egg), they will not hold their shape when spooned onto baking paper.
6. Although the pastry is best used right away, it can be placed in a bowl, covered and chilled for up to 12 hours, until ready to use.
Recipe for Chantilly Cream
1tsp vanilla extract
400ml whipped cream (measure when whipped)
Fold the icing sugar and Vanilla extract into the whipped cream. Easy Peasy!
Recipe for Chocolate icing
Ingredients200g icing sugar
25g cocoa powder
1-2tbsp boiling water
Recipe for Chocolate éclairs
As prepared above.
1 egg, beaten.
1. Preheat the oven to 220°C (425°F), Gas mark 7. Line a baking tray with parchment paper (not greaseproof paper, as the éclairs may stick when cooked).
2. Place the dough into a piping bag fitted with the plain 5–8mm (1/4–3/8in) nozzle and pipe into lengths approximately 10cm (4in) long onto the prepared baking tray, spaced about 4cm (1 ½ in) apart to allow for expansion. Use a small wet knife to stop the dough coming out when you have finished piping each éclair.
3. Brush the éclairs gently with the beaten egg and bake in the oven for 10 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 200°C and continue to cook for a further 15–20 minutes or until the éclairs are puffed up, golden and crisp.
4. Remove the éclairs from the oven and using a skewer or the tip of a small sharp knife, make a hole in the side or the base of each éclair. Return to the oven and bake for a further 5 minutes to allow the steam to escape. Transfer the éclairs to a wire rack to cool.
5. When the éclairs are cool, spoon the chantilly cream into a clean piping bag fitted with the small, plain nozzle (I used the same nozzle used for piping the éclairs) and pipe the cream into the éclairs through the hole made by the skewer or knife until they are well filled.
6. Using a small palette knife or table knife that has been standing in a jug of hot water (to make spreading the icing easier), spread the icing over the top of each éclair, dipping the knife into the hot water between each éclair. Serve!
This post does seem like a lot of work but its actually not, make your cream and chocolate while the eclairs are in the oven and cooling,then fill and top and your done. Scrumptious!