Sunday, 30 November 2008

Chocolate Eclairs - A Labour Of Love!

I must say that today has been one of those days that you have to just love being in the kitchen. I have had the most amazing day. Sunday at home with the kids and Chopper just kicking back, doing our own things, coming together at meal times and basically just relaxing at home. I have been promising everyone that I would make chocolate eclairs for ages. I have been putting it off and putting it off, because of fear. Yes fear, it's like the puff pastry, I just can't bring myself to do it. But today I put that fear aside and pulled out Stephanie Alexander's The Cooks Companion and I did it. I made the Choux Pastry, I made the Pastry Cream with a real vanilla bean, and I made the Ganache for the top. What a process but well worth it. So I can not take any credit for the wonderful recipe but I can take credit for how I turned those magical words into such gorgeous chocolate eclairs. Oh they are so good. The pastry cream so sweet, thick and creamy. The gorgeous smell of that vanilla bean. I kept saying to Chopper, doesn't that just smell so sexy. There is nothing like a home made chocolate eclair. Stephanie Alexander's book is really a pleasure to have. It is so help full and the recipes just translate very well in the home kitchen. So if you get time. Try these, they are fantastic.
Choux Pastry (double batch)
  • 120 g unsalted butter
  • 2 pinches of salt
  • 1 1/2 cups of water
  • 250 g plain flour, sifted
  • 6 eggs

Combine butter, salt and water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and remove from heat. Add flour all at once, stirring to combine, and return pan to heat. Stir over a medium heat until mixture dries out and starts to leave sides of pan, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a food processor. Add eggs one at a time, incorporating each well before adding the next.

Spoon heaped tablespoons onto paper-lined trays, or pipe lengths of dough. Bake at 180c for about 40 minutes until golden on the outside and dry in the centre. Cool on a wire rack.

Pastry Cream

  • 2 cups of milk
  • 1 vanilla bean, split
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup castor sugar
  • 50 g cornflour

Scald milk with a vanilla bean in a saucepan. In a bowl, beat egg yolks with sugar and cornflour until thick. Pour in the milk and whisk until smooth. Return mixture to rinsed-out saucepan and stir continuously over a moderate heat until pastry cream has thickened, is smooth and has come to the boil. Beat vigorously for 1 minute. Pour through a course strainer resting over a bowl ( I didn't strain it, it didn't have any lumps and I pulled the vanilla bean out before I poured the milk into the egg mixture). Wash and dry vanilla bean and reserve for another use. Press plastic film onto pastry cream to prevent a skin forming. Place in the fridge. Use pastry cream when it is cold.

Chocolate Ganache

  • 375 g bittersweet chocolate
  • 1 cup cream

Put the chocolate and cream into a saucepan and heat gently, stirring until the chocolate has melted and mixture is quite smooth.

Assembly is easy

Using a serrated knife cut the eclairs in half, fill with custard and dip the top in the ganache. Once assembled, place in the refrigerator for 10 - 15 minutes so the ganache sets. Your done.