So, I’ve been slacking a little bit. I promised you weeks ago more ice cream posts to help celebrate National Ice Cream Month. And have there been any? Clearly not. The worst part is, this isn’t for lack of ice cream making. I have 3 different recipes currently hanging out in my freezer, just waiting to be photographed and written about. The recipe making and tweaking is always the easy part for me – it’s the rest of it that I tend to get stuck on. I think a lot of it has to do with not being very confident yet in my photo-taking skills. Sometimes I recruit Daren to help me, which definitely moves things along (and probably results in better pictures – I think he has a better “eye” than me..), but other times I feel bad bugging him about it. Other times, I get stuck on the post writing aspect – even though as soon as I actually sit down to write one, it never takes as long as I think it’s going to. I’ve always been this way – putting off school projects until the last minute, and now with writing psych reports at work. Hence the reason why you’re just now seeing these (surprisingly easy!) chocolate eclairs – if you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, you’ll know that I made these over a month ago. Whoops.
I’m going to go ahead and blame the whole pregnancy thing for some of it too (hey why not)… while I’ve been very lucky and overall things have been pretty smooth sailing, I definitely have days/weeks that I feel better than others. Usually it’s just phases of being really tired – like the 2 1/2 hour nap I took when I got home yesterday. I also have some hip pain on and off, which makes sitting in my desk chair at home less than desirable. Not complaining though – it’ll all be worth it soon enough! On that note, here’s a little pic from our baby shower 2 weekends ago – we had a great time!
Baby girl is getting big in there!
So anyway, about the eclairs. I don’t have too much to say except that they were AWESOME, and shockingly easier to make than I thought they’d be. I’ve wanted to give them a try for a while now, because they’re Daren’s favorite pastry, but I kept putting it off because I assumed they’d be pretty challenging. Not true at all! In fact, with the exception of making the pastry cream ahead of time, I did the whole thing one Saturday morning before Daren even woke up (granted, he likes to sleep late on the weekends, but still).
For the pastry cream:
- 2 cups whole milk
- 2 large eggs
- 1 large egg yolk
- 2/3 cup (5 ounces) granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 vanilla bean, scraped
- 2 teaspoons almond extract OR 2 tablespoons bourbon (optional)
For the shells:
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
- 1 cup (4 1/4 ounces) all-purpose flour
- 5 large eggs
For the chocolate glaze:
- 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, shaved or finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
Begin by making the pastry cream ahead of time, to give it time to set (at least 2 hours, or overnight). To make the pastry cream, bring the milk to a gentle simmer on the stovetop. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, yolk, sugar, cornstarch, salt, and vanilla bean seeds until well combined. Once simmering, slowly add a small amount of the hot milk into the eggs, whisking constantly. Continue adding milk 1/4 cup at a time, until about half of the milk has been added. At that point, whisk the egg/milk mixture back into the hot milk on the stove. Continue to whisk over medium heat until the mixture thickens and begins to bubble. Once bubbling, cook for an additional minute. Remove from the heat and stir in the almond extract or bourbon if desired.
Pour the pastry cream into a heat-proof container, press plastic wrap against its surface to prevent a skin from forming, and refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight.
To make the eclair shells, preheat oven to 425°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
In a heavy saucepan, combine the milk, water, salt, sugar, and butter and bring to a boil over medium heat. Add the flour all at once and stir vigorously. Continue stirring until the mixture comes together and dries out slightly so that it pulls away from the edges of the pan (about 3 minutes).
Transfer the dough to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. With the mixer on medium-low speed, add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. The dough should become thick, smooth and shiny. Once the dough is ready, transfer it to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch round tip. Using your prepared baking sheets, pipe out tubes 3-4 inches long and 1 inch wide. Be sure to leave 2 inches of space between the tubes as the eclairs will puff up in the oven.
Bake the shells until puffed and just starting to turn golden, about 10 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 375°F and continue to bake until they are hollow inside and evenly golden brown outside, about 12 more minutes. Remove from the oven and, using a metal skewer, poke a small hole in the end of each shell to allow the steam to escape. Let the shells cool on wire cooling racks.
Meanwhile, prepare the chocolate glaze. Combine the chocolate and corn syrup in a heat-proof bowl. In a small saucepan, heat the cream over medium heat until steaming (do not let it come to a boil). Pour the cream over the chocolate and allow to sit for 2 minutes, then stir gently until the glaze is smooth and shiny.
To assemble the eclairs, stir the cold pastry cream until smooth. Spoon some cream into a pastry bag fitted with a small star or special filling tip. Using the holes that you made when the eclairs came out of the oven, fill the shells until they start to feel heavy. Be careful not to overfill.
Dip the top of each filled eclair into the chocolate glaze, letting the excess drip off, then place them upright on a wire rack to let the glaze set. Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator. The eclairs will taste best on the first day, but they can definitely be eaten for 2-3 days.
Yield: About 16 eclairs
Source: Love and Olive Oil