Chocolate Eclairs

No child that grew up in India spent their childhood without being completely in love with chocolate eclairs! (okay correction! any child who is round about my age today)

They were the go to treat to ask for when one went to the market or an outing with the parents. They had everything a child loved: Chocolate, cream and that fluffy just right Choux shell. Over the years I have visited many current bakeries and not one can replicate the perfect eclairs we got as kids. The ones we get now are all fancy and mostly not as delectable. I am sharing my recipe for chocolate eclairs (we can use the same for profiteroles too, I will share that with you shortly), it covers a basic Choux recipe and then directions on filling and glazing the eclairs.

Ingredients

  • 140g plain flour
  • Pinch of sugar
  • 125ml milk
  • 100g butter
  • 4 eggs

For the filling:

  • 3/4 cup Icing sugar
  • 200ml Heavy Cream
  • Few drops vanilla essence
  • 1 Tablespoons Cocoa Powder for the top glaze

If you are not confident about whipping cream you can used a ready aerated can if available. Similarly you can use alternative flavours in the top glaze. I’ve shared a few options below.

Method

  1. To make the choux buns, heat oven to 220C/200C fan. Sift the flour with the sugar and a pinch of salt into a small bowl. Put the milk and butter into a medium saucepan with 125ml water and gently heat so the butter melts but the liquid doesn’t bubble.
  2. Once the butter has completely melted, increase the heat until the liquid comes to a fast rolling boil. Immediately turn off the heat, tip in the sifted flour and beat vigorously with a wooden spoon until you a have a smooth dough that comes away from the sides of the pan. Spread over a large dinner plate to cool to hand temperature.
  3. Allow to cool for a few minutes, then in a large bowl gradually add the eggs to the mixture, mixing well between each addition until the mixture reluctantly drops off the spoon. Don’t add all the egg unless you need to.
  4. Cut 2 large sheets of baking parchment. On each one draw 2 sets of ‘track’ lines with a 10cm gap – these will be your guidelines so your eclairs will all be roughly the same size. Use the paper to line 2 large baking sheets – penside down.
  5. Spoon your choux mixture into a piping bag with a 1cm star or round wide nozzle, or into a disposable piping bag with a similar-size hole snipped off for piping. Pipe 2 rows of well-spaced, squashed ‘S’ shapes on each sheet between the guidelines. Bake, one tray at a time, on a high-ish shelf for 25 mins, reducing temperature to 200C/180C fan as soon as they go in the oven.
  6. After 25 mins, poke a hole in the end of each bun, or using a small serrated knife, split down the middle and return to the oven, upside-down, to dry out for 5 mins until crisp and golden. Set aside to cool.
  7. While the buns are cooling, finish your filling. Add 2-3 tablespoons of icing sugar and a few drops of vanilla essence to the cold heavy cream in a large bowl. Whisk the cream until thick using your electric whisk till the cream is firm. Spoon your filling into a piping bag (it helps to cool the whipped cream in the fridge to prevent it from melting away.– use a small nozzle if you’re filling the buns through the holes you’ve pierced, or a large nozzle if you’ve split the buns in half. Carefully pipe the whipped cream into each cooled bun – they should feel heavy once full. 
  8. To prepare a glaze icing add a spoon of warm water to 4 table spoons of icing sugar. the paste should be firm and a little tough. Mix well to make a smooth paste. Now you can add the flavour of your choice to the icing, the traditional go to is cocoa powder but you can add coffee (for the best result with coffee, dissolve the instant coffee in a spoon of warm water and use that to make the icing sugar paste), Rasberry powder (or a drop colour and essence), matcha etc. its honestly open to a lot of experimentation. Mix well till you get a smooth paste with even colour. Even the whipped cream filling can be changed up a but if you master the basic first.
  9. Arrange the buns on a wire rack and spread each with a little of your chosen icing. If you can’t decide, it’s really easy to split your batch of choux buns, halve icing quantities, and make a selection to keep everyone happy.
You can pipe them out as long eclairs or smaller cream puffs.
It is important to get the consistency right of the glaze or else at times it drips off the top. Make sure its thick yet spreadable. Glazed icing settles once it sits a while.

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