Just as you’d expect from French cuisine, these Classic Chocolate Eclairs are the definition of simple, yet elegant.
Eclairs (meaning ‘flash of lightning’, referring to how quickly they’re consumed!), have long been a favourite of mine. I love the delicate, light shell with its piped cream filling and chocolate or icing coating. Eclairs are usually my go-to treat when I’m looking for something sweet yet light and tasty.
I thought, to begin with, I’d go with the classic eclair recipe, using a standard chantilly cream filling and a dark chocolate topping. Simple, traditional and a favourite of many. Later on, I’ll try some of the more razzle dazzle versions with custard fillings and flavoured toppings – coffee eclairs are definitely next on the agenda (my favourite!). I’ll also have a go at making gluten-free shells in the future and see if they stack up to these.
If you’ve never made eclairs before, they’re surprisingly simple to make and your guests will be most impressed when you lay a platter of these on the table! Oh, and you must watch the shells magically rising in the oven – it’s capitivating! Enjoy!
- 60g (2.1 oz) butter, chopped
- 2/3 cup cold water
- 2/3 cup plain flour
- 3 eggs, lightly beaten, divided
- 300ml (10.1 fl oz) thickened cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2-3 teaspoons icing (confectioner's) sugar, to taste
- 100g (3.5 oz) dark chocolate, chopped finely
- 15g (0.5 oz) butter
- Preheat oven to 220°C (440°F). Line 2 large baking trays with baking paper.
- Combine butter and cold water in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until butter has melted and mixture just starts to boil.
- Reduce heat to low. Add flour all in one go. Cook, stirring, for 2 to 3 minutes or until mixture comes away from side of pan and forms a ball. Set aside for 5 minutes to cool slightly.
- Reserve 2 teaspoons egg. Using a wooden spoon, gradually beat in remaining egg until well combined and mixture forms a glossy dough (mixture should drop from the spoon).
- Spoon dough into a piping bag fitted with a 1cm plain nozzle. Pipe 12cm long logs, 6cm apart (as they spread), onto prepared trays. Brush with reserved egg.
- Bake 1 tray of eclairs for 5 minutes. Reduce heat to 180°C (360°F). Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until golden and puffed. Using a small knife (I used kitchen scissors), carefully cut eclairs in half horizontally. Return to oven, cut-side up. Bake for 3-5 minutes to dry out centres. Cool on tray. Increase temperature to 220°C (400°F). Repeat with remaining tray.
- Using an electric mixer, beat cream, vanilla and sugar until firm peaks. Store in fridge until needed.
- Place chocolate and butter over a double boiler on low heat and stir until melted and smooth in texture. Alternatively, microwave on medium-high (75%) for 1 to 2 minutes or until smooth, stirring every 30 seconds. Allow to cool a little.
- Spoon cream into a piping bag fitted with a 1cm fluted nozzle. Pipe cream evenly over cooled eclair bases. Spread top shells with cooled chocolate mixture and place the shells on top of the cream filled shells.
- Refrigerate for 20 minutes or until chocolate has set. Serve. Store left-overs in fridge.
Food Photography Info: Canon 550D (EOS Rebel T2i); Sigma 30mm 1.4 DC ‘Art’ lens / Natural lighting