It was brought to my attention last week that I had promised my boyfriend éclairs and still haven’t delivered, so that had to be fixed ASAP.
Saturday and Sunday were both reserved for some well-needed relaxation time with friends and family, so on Friday night the fun started. As a first timer in éclair making, it took a couple of trials to find the best quantities and combination of ingredients, but boy, was it worth it. The éclairs turned out just as I pictured them and can easily be described in two words: light and creamy. The smooth chocolate topping went incredibly well with the beautifully refreshing vanilla filling and crispy choux, and the combination of raspberries and pistachios made the éclairs just a little bit different from the classics.
I don’t plan on stopping here, though. The aim is to find the secret ingredient(s) used by my town’s patisserie to recreate my favourite childhood dessert. I will keep you updated!
Credits go to the amazing Delia for her fool-proof choux pastry recipe; I won’t be letting go of this one anytime soon. The pastry turns out just…right. There is no better way to describe it, really.
Ingredients – Choux pastry (makes around 6-7 large éclairs)
* 60 g strong plain white flour
* 1 tsp caster sugar
* 150 ml cold water
* 50 g butter
* 2 large eggs
Method – Choux pastry
- Combine the flour and the sugar and leave to one side, ready to be used.
- Cut the butter into cubes and place in a saucepan together with the water.Leave on medium heat, stirring occasionally, until it just starts to boil. Once you see the water starting to boil, turn the heat off immediately.
- Next, tip in the flour and the sugar and beat well with a wooden spoon. The paste should come off the sides of the saucepan and slowly form into a (smooth) ball.
- Beat the two eggs in a small bowl and slowly add them to the mixture, beating well after each addition. What you should be left with is what Delia calls a “smooth, glossy paste”.
- Preheat the oven to 200°C/ 400°F/gas mark 6.
- Now you can either spray a little oil on a baking sheet or you can grease it lightly with butter. Next, hold it under the cold tap for a short while, then remove the excess water; an alternative would be to spray some water onto the sheet rather than hold it under the tap.
- Spoon the paste into a piping bag and pipe around 6-7 strips, making sure they are roughly the same size. Make sure you leave sufficient space between them, as they will expand in the oven.
- Place the tray in the oven and leave for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, raise the heat to 220°C /425°F/gas mark 7 and leave for a further 15 minutes.
- When crisp and golden, remove from the oven and leave on the side to cool while you make the filling.
Ingredients – Filling
* 290 ml whole milk
* 50 ml double cream
* 50 g caster sugar
* 25 g icing sugar
*25 g plain flour
* 2 1/2 tsp cornflour
* 4 egg yolks
* 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Method – Filling
- Add the egg yolks, sugar and vanilla extract to a medium-sized bowl and whisk together until mixture turns pale.
- Put the milk in a saucepan and leave on medium-low heat until it is just starting to simmer. In the meantime, add the flour and cornflour to the egg mixture and combine well until smooth and thick.
- When the milk starts simmering, immediately remove from the heat and pour over the flour and egg mixture, stirring continuously. Continue to stir until all the lumps have gone.
- Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and return to the hob. Leave on low heat and stir continuously until it thickens. When thick and creamy, remove from the heat.
- Finally, stir in the double cream, then cover the pan and leave to cool.
Decoration – Ingredients
* 100 g creamy milk chocolate
*handful of raspberries
* crushed pistachios
* 100 ml thick double cream
Assembling the éclairs
Once the filling has cooled slightly, the éclairs can be assembled (they should have cooled down completely by now).
- Make a small incision on the side of the pastry. Spoon the filling into a piping bag and slowly fill each one until the cream covers the whole length of the éclair.
I really don’t recommend going crazy with the filling as the éclairs will be too heavy and they will become soggy. There will also be cream overload, so you can’t enjoy the rest of the flavours 😀
- Next, melt the chocolate in a bowl above a saucepan of simmering water, stirring occasionally. When melted, remove from the heat and leave to cool slightly.
- Hold the éclairs upside down and dip in the chocolate, making sure to leave the excess chocolate drip off before setting them down, otherwise chocolate will run down the sides.
- Let the chocolate set before decorating.
- When they are ready, beat the double cream and spoon into a piping bag; for this, use the flower nozzle. Pipe small flowers onto the éclairs, then add the raspberries and sprinkle with crushed pistachios.