There are some recipes that are extremely easy to make, but quite hard to make it well. Chocolate Eclairs are definitely one of them.
Pâte à choux (or choux pastry) is part of many of my favorite desserts, but I have to admit it took me quite some time to master it. The main issue is that there is no exact recipe for it. So you always need to feel the recipe, and know how it is supposed to be like.
A couple weeks ago, I attended a master class from Cacao Barry here in Toronto, where chef Nicolas Dutertre showed us how to make a few different desserts, and eclairs was one of them.
I used my go-to recipe but incorporated a few tricks he showed, like coating the exterior of the pastry with coconut oil, clarified butter or baking spray.
At work, I tested it with coconut oil and this one you’re seeing here, was done with baking spray. Both ways provided a very shiny exterior for the eclairs, which was really nice. I have to say, though, that coconut oil gives a little bit of coconut taste which may be undesired in certain preparations. I found baking spray to be more neutral, despite not being exactly natural.
The filling is a delicious creamy chocolate that works way better than chocolate pastry cream. It has a very light texture and taste, which is more to my liking.
On top of all this deliciousness there is a velvety and smooth chocolate chantilly, together with chocolate decorations to give it a little style. Both recipes are from chef Nicolas, and they are absolutely amazing!
If you want to go the traditional way, the eclairs can be filled with just the creamy chocolate, and glazed with chocolate. I’ve been doing this at work for a few days now and people are loving it!
So, the most important takeaway here is related to the pastry. You may not use the whole amount of eggs in the recipe (I almost never do), especially if your dough is not too dry. What you want to achieve here is a consistency that drips easily from the spoon without needing to shake it. If it drips too fast, and almost no pastry is left in the spoon — you’ve added too much eggs and will need to start again. On the other hand, if it doesn’t fall easily, you most probably still need to add more eggs but make sure to add it slowly. If you mess it out, there is no turning back
That is the consistency you’re trying to reach. Don’t worry if you get it wrong the first time. Just try to understand what you could have made wrong and try again. Practice makes perfect!
I’m pretty sure that whether you are an experienced baker or trying it for the first time, these tricks will make your eclairs shine in every possible way!
- 175 g milk
- 70 g butter
- 6 g sugar
- 2 g salt
- 100 g flour
- 3 eggs
- 125 g whole milk
- 125 g whipping cream
- 45 g egg yolks
- 35 g sugar
- 100 g dark chocolate
- 60 g milk chocolate
- 1 gelatin sheet
- 115 g whipping cream, to warm the chocolate
- 4 g glucose
- 200 g milk chocolate
- 350 g whipping cream, cold
- Preheat your oven at 160C/320F. Prepare 2 cookie sheets lined with parchment paper or silicone mats. Set aside.
- Sift the flour into a bowl. Set aside.
- Whisk the eggs into another bowl, and set aside as well.
- In a medium saucepan, bring the milk, butter, salt and sugar to a boil.
- Once boiled, add the flour to the pan all at once, and mix it all with a wooden spoon until it becomes a thick mass. Bring the pan back to heat and dry the dough until it starts to stick to the bottom of the pan, about 1 minute.
- Remove the dough from the pan to another bowl and let it cool down for a few minutes. Start adding the eggs, little by little, always making sure it's completely incorporated before adding the next batch. Use a wooden spoon to work the dough, it works better than a whisk.
- Once it has reached a consistency where it drips from the spoon without needing to shake it, but there is still some dough in the spoon itself, it is done. You may not need to use the whole quantity of eggs.
- Transfer the dough to a piping bag with a 1.5 cm open star tip, and pipe stripes that are 14 cm/5.5 in long in the prepared cookie sheets.
- Brush each eclair with melted coconut oil or spray lightly with baking spray.
- Bake them for about 20 minutes, or until golden in the surface and dry on the inside.
- Important: DO NOT open your oven at any time before the pastries have been puffed (about 15 minutes), otherwise they will collapse.
- Once baked, move them to a cooling rack and keep them in a sealed bag or closed container if not using straight away.
- Soak the gelatin in ice cold water for about 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.
- Measure the chocolate in a medium bowl. Set aside.
- Whisk lightly the egg and sugar in a bowl.
- Heat the milk in a saucepan until it just comes to a boil. Pour the milk over the eggs and mix to blend them. Bring this mixture back to heat and cook until it coats the back of a spoon or reaches 85C/185F.
- Pour this mixture over the chocolate (you can strain it in case the egg has curdled a little bit) and mix to incorporate. Add the gelatin, and mix until it's dissolved.
- Let cool in the fridge until it gets a piping consistency (about 2 hours).
- Measure the chocolate in a medium pan.
- Boil the cream and glucose in a small sauce pan.
- Pour the cream on top of the chocolate and mix to combine. Add the remaining cream, cold, and leave in the fridge until completely cold (about 4 hours or preferably, overnight).
- When ready to assemble, whip this mixture with the help of a hand mixer or whisk until it becomes consistent enough to hold its shape.
- With a serrated knife, cut the top of each eclair (about ⅓ of the top). Fill it all the way up with the creamy chocolate.
- Pipe the chocolate chantilly decoratively on top of the filling. Decorate with chocolate shavings, chocolate decorations or sprinkles.