Sunday, March 6, 2011

Decadent French Eclairs!

Hey all,
My fingers are tingling from just writing this post. It's been a while since I last blogged and now I'm ready to get back into the game. For this coming week, I'll be posting multiple recipes that I tried over the past several to procrastinate from doing my thesis dissertation.  The results were quite pleasing.

Let the fun begin with one of the most decadent desserts - French eclairs. This was as much fun to make as it was to eat. Also the pate choux is one of the most basic fundamentals for any kind of cream puffs.

Making a French eclair is almost like watching a Shakespearean play - Three acts - the cream puff from the pate choux, the filling of pastry cream or whipped cream, and the coupe de grace - the chocolate ganache on top.

So let's get into each one.

French Eclairs
Yield: Variable depending on how big or small you choose to make the eclairs

Act 1: The Cream Puff - Introduction and the drama
Adapted from recipe

2 cups water
2 sticks of butter (1 pound) diced to help it melt easily
Pinch of salt
2 cups flour
7 eggs

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees 
1. In a saucepan, melt the butter together with the water and salt until it comes to a boil.
2. Put the heat on medium and then add all the flour into the saucepan. Keep stirring until it pulls away from the sides and is not as wet - will DEFINITELY take a 5-10 minutes.
3. Transfer it to a mixing bowl and start mixing it to cool it down.
4. After a minute, mix in one egg at a time. After the last egg, it should become really thick and sticky.
5. Transfer the batter into a piping bag with a thick tip end.
6. Pipe out long or short eclairs onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. I had a silpat, so I just used that.
7. Bake for 25-30 minutes - should looked puffed up and golden brown.

Act II: The filling - the climax

The traditional filling is pastry cream, but if you have excessive puffs left over - feel free to fill it with whipped cream - it's just as good.

Pastry Cream for the cream puffs
Adapted from

1 1/4 cups milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract (didn't have the bean - sigh!)
3 large egg yolks (great way of using up leftover yolks)
2 tablespoons white sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons corn starch

1. Mix sugar and egg yolks. Add sifted flour and corn starch and mix until a paste is formed.
2. Heat milk until boiling. Whisk it into the egg mixture slowly to prevent curdling.
3. Put it through a sieve back into the original saucepan and stir until it thickens - you should feel it resisting movement (physics in action!)
4. Turn off the heat. Add the vanilla extract and stir it in.
5. Allow it to come to room temperature before putting it in the fridge.

Act III: The Chocolate Ganache
Adapted from

This is extremely quick and easy - just do it in the microwave

6 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup of heavy whipping cream
a tablespoon of butter

1. Combine everything together
2. Heat in the microwave for 30 seconds. Stir and repeat for 15 second intervals in the microwave until everything melts.
3. Ganache complete!

Act IV: Assembly - The conclusion

1. Fill a piping bag with the cooled pastry cream.
2. Fill the cream puff with the pastry cream by poking holes on the sides of the puffs.
3. Dip just the top surface in the chocolate ganache and swirl.
4. Eat! And share too - I guess :( ....

And then with the first bite - angels will sing praises and your friends will want more.


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