Having delved into choux for my Food in Film project twice, I thought I would try and master a choux base recipe and as such then needed something to make with it. Craquelin is one of the first things I wanted to try when making choux and so I thought I had to include that in the recipe, as for the filling, well, I had already made a chocolate crème patissière for my The Grand Budapest Hotel pastries and so I couldn't not include it. These eclairs are simple in appearance but not when it comes to taste.
Makes approx. 10
Hands-on Time 30 minutes plus cooling
Baking Time 34 minutes
45g Unsalted butter
55g Demerara sugar
65g Plain flour
560ml Full-fat milk
100g Milk or Dark chocolate, broken up
5 Egg yolks, medium
90g Caster sugar
Piping bag with a round tip (at least 1.5cm dia.) and a narrow tip (approx 5mm dia.)
Combine the butter, demerara sugar, and 55 grams of plain flour in a mixing bowl using your hands although not to handle the butter too much as you don’t want it to melt.
It should form a somewhat dry dough.
Tip the dough out onto a sheet of baking parchment and cover using another piece.
Flatten the dough using the palm of your hand before rolling it out into a rectangle about 3-5 millimetres thick. If you have crumbly edges lift the top sheet of parchment up and use the parchment under the dough to fold the edges back in on themselves. Not only should this given you crisp edges but it should help straighten them.
Pop the dough into the fridge for at least an hour. Make sure you rest it on a flat surface.
Preheat the oven to 170°C/150°C (Fan)/325°F/Gas mark 3.
Line a baking sheet with parchment.
Make the choux paste as instructed and transfer into a piping bag with the wider of the two nozzles.
Pipe the choux onto the parchment in lengths of about 7 centimetres, evenly spaced apart.
Wet a finger with water and use it to flatten any pointy ends from the piping.
Leave the choux to rest for at least 30 minutes.
Remove the chilled craquelin dough from the fridge and using a knife slice it into rectangles slightly longer than the eclairs but the same width.
Place a rectangle of dough on top of each eclair and press down on it gently.
Pop the baking sheet into the oven on a middle shelf for 34 minutes until the eclairs are nice and golden.
Remove the tray from the oven and leave the eclairs to cool before transferring into a wire rack to cool completely.
Whilst the eclairs are baking you can make the chocolate crème patissière .
Add the milk and chocolate to a saucepan and place over a medium heat until the chocolate has melted and the milk is steaming. Stir occasionally using a spatula.
Whisk the egg yolks together with the caster sugar in a clean bowl for a minute until nice and thick.
Add 10 grams of flour, the cocoa, and cornflour and whisk again until combined.
Take the steaming chocolate milk and pour a little over the chocolatey eggy mixture whilst still whisking. Gradually add more milk until half has been added.
Pour the mixture back into the pan and place over a low heat, stirring all the time, until it has thickened into a custard consistency.
Clean the mixing bowl and transfer the chocolate crème patissière into it before leaving to cool down.
Once the chocolate crème patissière has reached room temperature you can get on with filling the eclairs. You may need to give it a stir if the surface has formed a slight skin.
Use the narrow nozzle to make three holes in the underside of each eclair, one at either end and one in the middle.
Transfer the chocolate crème patissière into a clean piping bag fitted with the narrow nozzle.
Slowly fill the eclairs using the hole in the middle. When crème patissière emerges from the holes at either end you know that’s enough.
Pop the eclairs back onto the wire rack, if you leave them another 30 minutes or so you should find the filling will set a little more but they are best eaten the same day.