Do you know what day it is? Why yes, it is indeed chocolate eclair day! These fluffy, cream-filled desserts are a French classic. Here's a recipe to celebrate this national holiday.
The filling can be made a day before hand, and the glaze up to two days, so you don't spend all day preparing one meal. To refrigerate the glaze, just cover and keep in the fridge. Warm it up before using either in the microwave or over a double-boiler. If you do this, though, take the filling out of the fridge an hour before you are going to use it.
- 2 cups milk
- 1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
- 6 egg yolks
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon cold, unsalted butter
- 1 cup water
- 1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 eggs
- Egg Wash
- 1 egg
- 1 1/2 teaspoons water
- Chocolate Glaze
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 4 ounces chopped semisweet chocolate
Begin with the filling. In a medium saucepan, heat the milk and vanilla bean to a boil over medium heat. The moment it starts boiling, remove it from the heat and set aside for 15 minutes. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar until light and fluffy. Whisk in the cornstarch until there are absolutely no lumps. Follow that with 1/4 cup of the hot milk mixture until incorporated. Then add the rest of the milk mixture.
Pour the mixture through a strainer back into the saucepan, then cover and cook over medium heat. Make sure to whist often until the mixture is thickened and slowly boiling. Remove the saucepan from the heat again and stir in butter. Let it cool slightly, then cover with plastic wrap by placing the wrap gently against the surface of this mixture. This should prevent a skin from forming. Chill for at least 2 hours, or until it's time to serve.
Now let's take care of the pastry. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and line a sheet pan with parchment paper. In a large saucepan, bring the water, butter, salt, and sugar to a boil over medium-high heat. When it boils, remove the pan from the heat. Stir with a wooden spoon while adding all the flour at once. Stir hard until the flour is incorporated.
Return the mixture to the heat, stirring for 30 seconds. Scrape the mixture with a hand mixer at medium speed. While mixing, add 3 eggs, one at a time. Make sure you are scraping the sides so everything is even. Mix until the dough is smooth and glossy, and the eggs are completely incorporated. You'll end up with a thick dough that should fall steadily from the beaters when you lift them. If the dough is still clinging too much, mix in another egg.
Use a pastry bag with a large, plain tip to create fat lengths of the dough about the size of a large hot dog into the baking sheet, leaving 2 inches space between them. This recipe should give around 8 to ten lengths.
Before we actually bake the eclairs, though, we need to apply an egg wash. To create the egg wash, whisk the egg and water together. That's pretty simple, no?
Brush the surface of each length of dough with the egg wash, and use your fingers to make sure there are no bumps or points of the dough on the surface. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 375 degrees. Bake until the dough is puffed up and golden brown. This should take about 25 minutes.
Once the pastries are cooked, remove them from the oven then let them cool on the baking sheet. Pack the filling into a pastry bag wit ha medium-sized tip. Use your index fingers to make a hole in each end of the eclairs, then add the filling to the inside of the eclairs. Don't over-fill, though.
Now for the chocolate! Put the chocolate in a medium bowl. In a medium saucepan, heat the cream over medium heat until it first starts to boil. Remove from heat. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate until everything is melted and smooth. Keep warm. Drizzle over the eclairs, or dip the tops into the chocolate: Either way.
Chill the eclairs for at least an hour before serving.