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Chocolate Eclairs Make them yourself

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PHOTO: Paola Thomas

FOR THE LOVE OF FRANCE

RECIPE AND PHOTOS BY PAOLA THOMAS OF MIRROR MIRROR

It’s possible that Paola Thomas’ eclairs are the perfect Valentine’s Day treat: covered in chocolate, filled with cream, and evocative of Paris — the city of romance.

They’re also a little bit old-fashioned, which we think is the best kind of love.

They are “surprisingly easier to make than one might think,” says Thomas, who shared her gorgeous recipe with REstyleSOURCE.

Put on some Edith Piaf, pour a French champagne, and share the eclairs with someone that you love. Ah, l’amour.

Chocolate Eclairs
 
Author:
Ingredients
Choux Pastry
  • 60 g (4 Tbsp) butter
  • 130 ml (1/2 cup) water
  • 80 g (3/4 cup) plain flour, sifted
  • 3 large free range eggs
Filling and Toppings
  • 1 pint (2 cups) whipping cream
  • 1-2 Tbsp vanilla sugar (or to taste)
  • Some chopped pistachios (optional)
  • 100 g (3.5 oz) good quality dark chocolate
  • 50 ml (4 Tbsp) cream
  • 50 g (4 Tbsp) butter
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven 220˚C (430˚F) and line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpat mats.
  2. To make the choux pastry, place the butter and water in a saucepan and bring to a steady boil until the butter is completely melted.
  3. Remove from the heat and add the flour a little at a time, beating with a wooden spoon until it all comes together in a ball. Place back over the heat and continue beating the dough in the saucepan for about 40 seconds to cook the flour.
  4. Remove from the heat and set aside for a few minutes otherwise the eggs will cook when you add them. Beat one of the eggs in a small bowl.
  5. Add the two unbeaten eggs to the warm dough, one at a time, beating thoroughly until completely incorporated. The dough will look like it’s curdling. Keep beating, eventually it will come together into a smooth paste.
  6. Add the remaining beaten egg a little at a time until you have a smooth, shiny paste that will drop easily from your spoon. (I added all of my beaten egg).
  7. Using a spatula, scoop the dough into a large piping bag fitted with a large round piping nozzle and pipe 10cm (3 inch) lines on to the lined baking sheets, leaving a good sized space between each one to allow for spreading. Brush each one with any leftover beaten egg. (I didn’t bother since I had no left over egg).
  8. Place in the oven, reduce the heat to 190˚C (375˚ F), and use a wooden spoon to crack the door open an inch to let the steam escape. (Chef Jean Marc taught me this trick at a patisserie camp.) Bake for approximately 25 minutes until the eclairs are puffed up, golden and crisp. If they’re not completely dry, bake them for an additional few minutes.
  9. Transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool completely before filling.
  10. For the filling, whip the cream with a little vanilla sugar (or sugar + a couple of drops of vanilla extract) and then either make three holes in the bottom of each éclair and pipe in the cream, using a small round nozzle, or, as I did, just cut them in half lengthways and fill with whipped cream using a teaspoon.
  11. To make the chocolate glaze, melt the dark chocolate in a bowl set over a saucepan of hot water. When the chocolate has melted remove the bowl from the heat and gently stir in the cream. Fold in the butter until you have a shiny, spreadable chocolate glaze.
  12. Dip the filled eclairs into the glaze and sprinkle with chopped nuts if liked. Chill in the fridge until serving. They will keep in the fridge for a couple of days, though I bet they don’t have the chance.

PHOTO: Paola Thomas

Tip

Silpat mats are reusable silicone baking sheet liners. They help keep pastry from sticking. Find them at kitchen supply stores.

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