I can honestly say, eclairs rank very high on my list of favorite desserts. When I was young, I'd buy them from a bakery, but I now I know how to bake them from scratch at home. Let me walk you through the process.
We'll start by making the pastry which is technically called pate a choux (sounds like pot-ah-shoo).
In a 4-quart nonstick saucepan, heat water, milk, butter, salt, and sugar until it boils.
While you're waiting for the mixture to boil, have the flour and eggs ready to go.
Okay, the milk mixture is just starting to boil - time to add the flour.
Add all the flour at once...
And stir vigorously until all the liquid is absorbed.
When all the liquid is absorbed, continue stirring constantly...
Until a smooth paste forms and pulls away from the sides of the pan. We're not quite there yet, but almost.
Just a few more moments and we're done. Remove the pan from the heat.
Transfer the paste to the bowl of a stand mixer or food processor.
Add the eggs, mixing one at a time, until no traces of raw egg remains.
Transfer the mixture to a large pastry bag fitted with a large star tip (like this one). I like to use disposable bags (like these). Using a star tip helps the pastry dough expand evenly in the oven.
Pipe the eclairs on a silpat lined sheet pan.
Sprinkle with confectioner's sugar and bake.
They'll puff up during baking, which creates a hollow space in the center.
That hollow space is just begging to be filled with creamy vanilla pastry cream (recipe here).
But before we can fill the pastry shells, we need to turn them upside down and poke a few holes in the bottoms. I used a chopstick to poke the holes. The holes will allow excess steam to escape as the shells cool, and they'll be where we pipe the pastry cream filling inside.
Place the pastry cream in a large pastry bag fitted with a bismark tip. Squeeze the filling into room temperature shells - fill them up completely.
Use an offset spatula to scrape away any excess pastry cream.
To make the ganache, heat cream and chocolate together, whisking to combine. Dip the tops of each eclair into the ganache and allow to set.
Serve them as is, or place them in paper wrappers. Just grab a standard cupcake wrapper and flatten it out a bit.
Then place the eclairs on the wrapper and serve.
Items used to make this recipe:
All-Clad nonstick 4-quart saucepan http://amzn.to/2lFFB3b
disposable pastry bags http://amzn.to/2lFKZ6A
large star tip http://amzn.to/2lFEeBG
silpat liner http://amzn.to/2kNBkfM
half sheet pan http://amzn.to/2lKpthc
bismark tip http://amzn.to/2kXxVJK
offset spatula http://amzn.to/2lFCEjd
white cupcake liners http://amzn.to/2kIbEB2
makes about 20 eclairs (3 to 4 inches long)
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup whole milk
8 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon table salt
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1 cup all purpose flour
5 large eggs
confectioner's sugar for dusting
pastry cream (recipe here)
8 ounces dark chocolate (really good quality)
8 ounces heavy cream
TO MAKE THE PASTRY SHELLS:
Preheat oven to 450F and place rack in center position.
In a 4-quart nonstick saucepan, heat the milk, water, butter, salt, and sugar until it boils.
Immediately add the flour and stir vigorously until all the liquid is absorbed by the flour and a paste forms; continue stirring constantly until the paste dries out and forms a ball that cleans the sides of the pan.
Transfer the paste to the bowl of a stand mixer or food processor and allow it to cool for a couple of minutes.
Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until each is fully incorporated.
Transfer paste to a large disposable pastry bag that has been fitted with a large star tip (I used Ateco #826).
Pipe the paste into 3 or 4-inch lengths on a silpat lined sheet pan; dust with confectioner's sugar.
Bake in 450F oven for 5 minutes, then reduce heat to 350F and continue baking for 25 to 30 minutes more.
Remove from oven and allow to rest until they're cool enough to handle, then poke a couple of vent holes in the bottom and allow to cool completely.
When completely cool, use a pastry bag fitted with a bismarck tip to fill pastry shells with vanilla pastry cream through the vent holes (my recipe can be found here); scrape away any excess pastry cream from the vent holes.
TO MAKE THE GANACHE TOPPING:
Place chopped chocolate in a medium bowl.
In a small heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat cream over medium heat until it just begins to boil.
Pour the hot cream over the chopped chocolate and rest for several minutes; whisk to combine fully and use immediately.
Dip the top of each pastry cream filled shell in the ganache; turn right side up and place on a flattened out cupcake liner or on a serving platter.
adapted from pastry chef Bruno Albouze