old Chocolate Eclairs with Vanilla Pastry Cream

Makes: 14 - 16 Eclairs
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Ingredients for the Choux Pastry:
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cubed 
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 eggs, beaten

Ingredients for the Pastry Cream:

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Ingredients for the Chocolate Ganache:

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped into small pieces
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Procedure:
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 °F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. To make the choux pastry, add in the water, butter, sugar, and salt to a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir everything together and allow the butter to fully melt and the sugar and salt to dissolve. 
  3. Reduce the heat to low and add in the flour, stirring to combine everything.
  4. With the pan still on the heat, use a rubber spatula to stir the mixture until a dough forms. You will want to stir this mixture continuously for 3 - 5 minutes, until most of the steam seems to have dissipated and the dough leaves a slight film on the bottom of the pan.
  5. Remove the pan from the heat and add the dough to a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat the mixture on medium speed for 5 minutes, until the steam has been released and the bottom of the stand mixer bowl is no longer hot to the touch.
  6. With the mixer on low, begin to add the beaten eggs 1/3 of the mixture at a time. Allow the egg to fully incorporate into the dough before adding the next third. The dough will have a curdled appearance and then begin to take form. Scrape down the sides of the bowl to make sure everything is well combined. The dough should be slightly stiff and have a glossy appearance. 
  7. Place the dough into a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2 inch French star or round piping tip and pipe the eclairs that are about 4 inches long, leaving 2 inches of space between them. 
  8. Place in the oven and bake for 25 minutes, until golden brown. 
  9. After 25 minutes, or when they are golden brown, quickly prick each of the eclair shells with a toothpick to release some of the steam. Close the oven door and allow to bake for 5 - 7 minutes more. Let cool completely before filling. 
  10. While the eclair shells are baking, make the pastry cream. Place a large high-sided skillet over medium heat and bring the milk to a simmer, being careful not to scorch the milk.
  11. In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch, and salt until the sugar has dissolved and the eggs become a pale yellow color. 
  12. Temper the eggs by adding in 1/2 cup of the warm milk and whisking to combine. This should raise the temperature of the eggs to match the temperature of the milk on the stove. 
  13. Turn the heat down to a medium low and pour the eggs into the pan with the remaining milk. Whisk everything together and scrape the sides of the pan with a rubber spatula. 
  14. Stir the mixture for 3 - 4 minutes, pushing it back and forth and stirring in a figure 8 motion. As the pastry cream starts to thicken, little bubbles will begin to form. When it has reached a very light boil, allow to cook for 20 seconds more and then remove from the heat.
  15. Stir in the vanilla bean paste and butter and whisk to combine. 
  16. Strain the pastry cream through a fine mesh strainer onto a clean baking sheet or 9 x 13 cake pan. Smooth into an even layer and place a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the pastry cream. 
  17. Place in the refrigerator and allow to chill completely before using.
  18. Make the chocolate ganache right before assembling the eclairs. Heat the heavy cream over in a small saucepan over medium heat. Place the chocolate in a medium glass bowl.
  19. When the cream reaches a simmer, remove from the heat and pour over the chocolate, being sure to submerge all the chocolate under the cream. Let stand for 3 minutes and then whisk together, being sure that there are no lumps and the chocolate is smooth. 
  20. To assemble the eclairs, place the pastry cream in a piping bag fitted with a 1/4 inch round tip. 
  21. Use a paring knife or piping tip to make a small hole into the bottom of each of the eclair shells. Place the piping tip into the opening and fill just until you feel the pastry cream push back a little. 
  22. Dip the top side of the eclair into the chocolate ganache and then place on a cooling rack to dry. Repeat with the remaining eclairs. 

       
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