Éclairs are super fancy and although they’re not the “easiest” to make, they’re so worth it. To be honest, I found the process to be quite enjoyable. I love making choux pastry and pastry cream. Am I the only one? I mean, beating together a few ingredients and then watching the choux pastry cook into such a soft dough that doesn’t stick to the sides of your saucepan is almost magical. Then there’s whipping the heated cream mixture slowly into the egg yolk mixture to prevent the yolk from scrambling, before pouring the whole lot back into the saucepan and watching it thicken into a sweet, aromatic pastry cream. I sound insane. Okay, I’ll stop.
You can experiment with so many flavors when it comes to éclairs, but I decided to stick with a pretty classic pastry cream and finish it off with chocolate ganache and melted white chocolate.
…I know I said I’d stop, but don’t you love making ganache too? Letting the hot cream sit with the chocolate and letting heat energy go back and forth between the two and disrupting bonds as the chocolate melts and becomes one with the cream…ok ok, I’m done.
Well, what are you waiting for? Go make these delicious pastries for Mother’s Day!
Adapted from Will Cook For Smiles
For the pastry cream:
(This will need to be prepared a few hours ahead, or the day before you assemble the éclairs)
- 4 large egg yolks
- ½ cup sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 1 cup of whole milk
- ⅓ cup flour
- ⅔ cup of heavy whipping cream
- 4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
- 1 vanilla bean
For the Choux pastry:
- 1 cup of water
- ½ cup unsalted butter
- 1 Tbsp white granulated sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup + 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 4 large eggs
For the ganache:
- 110g good quality dark chocolate, chopped
- ½ cup heavy whipping cream
- For the pastry cream, in a medium mixing bowl, whisk together egg yolks, sugar, and salt until combined
- Whisk in the flour until smooth and set aside
- In a saucepan, gently heat the milk, heavy cream, and butter together. Cut the vanilla bean in half and scrape the seeds into the milk mixture and add in the empty vanilla bean as well
- Heat until simmering, and then remove the vanilla bean and slowly whisk the milk mixture into the egg mixture, making sure that the egg doesn’t scramble
- Pour all of the mixture back into the saucepan and heat while constantly stirring until thickened. This should take a few minutes
- Pour the cream into a bowl or onto a plate and allow to cool before covering it with plastic wrap (with the plastic touching the surface of the cream) and placing it in the fridge for at least 4 hours
- For the Choux pastry, preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius or 400 degrees Fahrenheit
- In a saucepan, heat and mix the butter, sugar, vanilla extract, and water together until the mixture is lightly simmering
- Beat in the flour using a wooden spoon until combined and the mixture doesn’t stick to the sides of the saucepan
- Transfer the mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer, or using an electric mixer, and beat in the eggs one at a time, making sure that each egg is fully mixed before adding the next
- Transfer the batter into a piping bag and, on a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper, pipe thick lines of pastry about 4cm (1.5 inches) in width and 8cm (3 inches) in length. They should also be about 2cm (almost 1 inch) tall
- Bake for 25-28 minutes, until golden brown. Allow to cool before filling
- For the ganache, place the chopped chocolate into a small mixing bowl.
- In a small saucepan, bring heavy cream to simmer
- Pour the hot cream over the chopped chocolate and allow to sit for a few minutes before stirring together with a whisk until smooth
- To assemble the éclairs, fill a piping bag with the cold pastry cream. Gently insert the tip into the cooled pastry and squeeze cream into it. Alternatively, cut the pastries lengthwise and fill the insides
- Dip each filled pastry in the chocolate ganache and drizzle a bit of melted white chocolate over it, if desired. Keep refrigerated.