I believe Eclairs are the greatest French pastry to have ever been invented. A good eclair is not too sweet, has a crisp choux shell and is filled with custards, creams, curds, mousses. Anything. All of the deliciousness. Whenever im at the Adelaide Central Market I make sure I always swing by Dough, who make a truly sublime chocolate eclair.
When in pastry school I always had trouble piping perfect eclairs. They were always waaay too fat. I think I may have been subconsciously doing so, just so that i could get more chocolate custard in them… mwahahahh. However, after many years of practice I learnt to keep that ‘pate au choux’ under control! Saying that- these turned out quite plump anyhow! Monsieur Andre would not be impressed!
To make these, I would start off by making the creme patissiere first, then it can cool while the choux pastry cooks.
Chocolate Wattleseed Creme Patissiere:
500ml full fat milk
4 egg yolks
100g 60% chocolate
Heat milk in saucepan on medium-high heat.
Cut vanilla bean in half and scrape seeds into milk. Allow the bean husk to infuse in the milk also.
Add wattleseed to milk. Stir often.
Meanwhile whisk the eggs and sugar together, then add the flour to create a thick pale yellow paste.
Bring the milk to a simmer. Remove the bean husk. Take the milk off the heat and pour into the egg mixture. Give it a good whisk, then pour back into the saucepan, over a medium heat, bring it to a boil, it will thicken, keep cooking for a couple of minutes, stirring continuously. Once you’re happy with the consistency turn off the heat, and pour into a clean bowl and wrap, then refrigerate until needed.
For the Choux:
Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsuis
185g unsalted butter, chopped
220g strong flour
350g egg (approx. 7)
Combine the water, butter, salt and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat.
Make sure all the butter is melted before this next step. Take the pan off the heat and add the flour. Quickly mix the flour in with a wooden spoon and return to the heat and continue to cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly, until the dough is smooth which doesn’t stick to the pan, your spoon, or finger when poked.
Transfer the dough to a bowl of a stand mixer. Gradually add the eggs, ensuring they are completely mixed through before the next is added.
After the dough is thoroughly mixed transfer to your piping bag with a star nozzle. Pipe away. You’re aiming for a 12.5cm long by 2cm wide eclair, but who knows what will happen!
Bake for 20 minutes at 180 celcius for 20 minutes, then lower to 160 for another 20.
Once baked your eclairs should be light and hollow on the inside with a crisp shell.
To fill eclairs, cut in half down the side, but don’t cut all the way through. Get your piping bag with a round nozzle say the size of a pencil, and fill with the cooled creme patissiere along the base, i like to fill them quite generously. Close them up and they should seal nice and clean.
To finish, ice with melted chocolate.
Best eaten straight away!