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Chocolate Eclairs are decadent pastries filled with a boozy cream, and topped with rich ganache. They make a great dessert, or snack with afternoon tea or coffee. You can even make everything ahead of time – Just fill right before serving!
This is another one of those posts I meant to get to during Choctoberfest, and wasn’t able to finish in time. I don’t know why it seems harder to blog these days than back when I had a toddler and worked five days a week, and was making dinner each night.
I mean, I’m only forty-three. Anymore, that’s not even considered middle age. And aside from my thyroid issues, I don’t exactly have any really debilitating health problems.
And though I almost work less than I did when I was in banking, I find I make less time for baking and blogging. I don’t know if that means I’m stuck in a rut, or I’m doing more things other than blogging and baking.
Well, and cooking. Let’s be honest, since my dad passed away, it’s been difficult to force myself to do certain things. Cooking has been one of those things.
I still enjoy it when I make myself to get into the kitchen and then immerse myself in a project. It’s the getting in there that’s been the problem.
I find I’m not as motivated as I once was. Though at the same time, it’s all I still would love to do. That, and travel.
I bought myself a bismarck tip ages ago, with the intention of making either eclairs or cream puffs. I think it’s been at least a year since I purchased it? Possibly longer.
Back when I was coming up with ideas for Choctoberfest, I thought eclairs would be tasty, and it has been years since I last made them.
And then I discovered today is apparently National Chocolate Eclair Day, so I thought this would be the perfect time to actually finish this post and get it published…Even if we wolfed down these eclairs MONTHS ago.
Tips for Eclair Success
Eclairs are time-consuming, yes, but they are well worth the effort. You can make the shells a day or two ahead of time, and they’ll keep as long as they’re not filled.
If they have dried out a bit, fill them, then refrigerate for a couple hours before serving. Like with macarons, the moisture in the pastry cream will help soften them up.
I would also take the steps of making both the ganache frosting ahead of time, as well as the pastry cream. Both require cooling time, with the pastry cream needing refrigeration. The ganache will need to be brought back to room temperature and whipped before it will be spreadable.
For the Dough:
- 1 C water
- 1/2 C (1 stick) unsalted butter
- 1 tsp. sugar
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 C flour
- 5 large eggs
For the Pastry Cream:
- 1/2 C Sugar
- 1/4 C cornstarch
- 1/8 tsp. salt
- 2 C whole milk
- 4 large egg yolks
- 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 Tbsp. Frangelico liqueur
For the Ganache:
- 4 ounces bitter or semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped
- 4 ounces (1/2 C) heavy cream
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
- In a medium saucepan, combine the water, butter, sugar, and salt. Bring to a boil, then remove from the heat.
- Add in the flour, and stir to combine. Return the pan to medium-high heat, and cook the flour mixture, stirring constantly. Cook for four minutes, or until the mixture pulls away from the sides of the pan and leaves a film on the bottom.
- Remove from the heat again, and allow to cool for about five minutes, before adding in the eggs.
- Add the eggs one at a time, stirring either with a wooden spoon, or using a handheld mixer. Make sure each egg is fully incorporated into the dough before adding the next. Once all the eggs have been added, the dough should be smooth and shiny.
- Transfer the dough to a pastry bag fitted with a round tip (I used an Ateco #809).
- Using one baking sheet at a time, pipe the dough into oblong shapes that are approximately one inch wide X three-and-a-half inches long. Space them at least two inches apart, as the dough will expand while baking.
- Place in the oven and bake for ten minutes. Reduce the heat to 350 degrees F, and continue baking for twenty to thirty minutes more, or until golden brown.
- Turn off the oven, and prop the door open, to allow steam to escape, and the eclairs to dry out for fifteen minutes.
- Remove them to a wire rack to continue cooling, while preheating the oven and repeating the process with the other baking sheet.
- For the pastry cream, begin by whisking together the sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a medium saucepan. Whisk the egg yolks into the milk, then add to the saucepan with the butter.
- Bring to a boil over medium heat, and boil for one minute while whisking continually.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla and Frangelico.
- Strain the pastry cream through a fine mesh sieve into a clean bowl to remove any lumps. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing directly onto the surface of the pastry cream to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate at least two hours, preferably overnight. Stir before using.
- To make the ganache, begin by placing the chopped chocolate in a medium heat-proof bowl.
- Heat the cream over medium in a small saucepan just until small bubbles begin to dot the surface. Pour over the chocolate, and allow to sit for two minutes before whisking to combine.
- Cool the ganache to room temperature. Whip with a hand mixer before using.
- To finish the eclairs - Fill a pastry bag fitted with a bismarck tip with the pastry cream. Insert the tip into one end of the eclair and fill. Spread the top with the ganache frosting.
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