Wednesday, June 21, 2017

BakedIn: Chocolate Eclairs

A couple months ago I shared my first BakedIn experience, a baking prep service that friends gave me for my birthday. The subscription service gives you the non-perishable ingredients, special equipment and instructions, you provide the things like eggs and milk. They also provided bonus salted caramel marshmallows which I promptly ate, two at a time.

I was intimidated to try making these eclairs after the fail-forward attempt at whoopie pies. This was a whopping 4 chef hats out of 5, an indication of difficulty, and required a multi-phase approach. Much more intimidating than the muffin mix still waiting to be baked.

So after the recent London Bridge attacks, I was at home thinking about how I didn't want to leave my home and how much time I spend in Borough Market and just generally feeling awful about the world. So these eclairs kept my frantic mind busy, following logical steps and let me escape the illogical world without answers for just a bit.

Apparently eclairs are made with choux pastry! It sounds fancy, it's also light and fluffy. Butter and milk are boiled together, flour is stirred in and the dough sticks together. If I could pipe these all over again, I would cut a bigger piece of the piping bag off and make big eclairs. As it were, I treated the piping bag like I was going to pipe icing and made a bunch of mini eclairs. Still delicious but much more time-consuming.

Tray by tray, these are baked. Once all the baking was done, I chilled while the eclairs chilled before making the cream filling. I love whipping cream because it's so dang satisfying to just go from cream, cream, cream, oh snap we have whipped stuff! Piping the cream into the eclairs was messy but doable. In theory, the eclair shell is fluffy and pretty hollow but it's easier to pipe into each end separately instead of hoping the filling makes its way through the whole thing.

And at long last, the decoration! At this point, I got lazy and decided to forgo the caramel topping and just melt the chocolate and ice the eclairs in their classic chocolate glory. And sprinkles because why not?!

I must say, I'm quite proud of myself for these and someone even told me I should actually quit my day job and become a baker. I'll take it! And a bunch of eclairs, please!

Eclairs (Choux Pastry)
  • 120ml milk
  • 120ml water
  • 100g unsalted butter
  • 5g sugar
  • 3g salt
  • 150g plain flour
  • 5 eggs (4 for the dough, 1 for an egg wash)
Whipped Filling
  • 360ml double cream
  • 20g powdered sugar (icing sugar)
Chocolate Frosting
  • 100g milk chocolate
  • 60ml double cream
  1. Put milk, water, butter, salt and sugar into a saucepan over low heat and heat until the butter is melted.
  2. Bring the mixture to a boil and then immediately remove from heat. Stir in the flour, all at once, and mix with a wooden spoon until smooth. 
  3. Return the flour-butter mixture to heat and warm for about 1 minute until the mixture is slightly dryer. 
  4. Remove the pan from heat and pour into a large bowl.
  5. Add the eggs (just 4 of them), one at a time, to the dough and mix with a wooden spoon until the pastry is smooth.
  6. Preheat the oven to 200C (350F) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  7. While the choux pastry (yup, you just made choux pastry!) is still warm, fill a piping bag (or a ziplock bag and you can cut a corner off) with teh dough. Clip the corner of the bag, narrow to make small eclairs and wide for larger ones.
  8. Pipe the pastry onto the baking sheet. You can do either mini eclairs or full size. These won't expand much, just puff up so you can put them about 1/2 inch apart.
  9. Make an egg wash by beating the last egg in a small bowl. Brush the tops of the piped eclairs with the wash to ensure a nice golden finish.
  10. Bake for 20-25 minutes until crisp and golden.
  11. Place the eclair shells on a wire rack and allow to cool completely. Repeat piping until all the choux pastry is finished.
  12. While the eclairs bake, combine the milk chocolate and 60ml of cream in a saucepan. Heat until the chocolate is melted and transfer to a bowl. Cool in the fridge for 15 minutes.
  13. Once the eclairs are cool, whip the double cream and powdered sugar together using an electric mixer. Whip until the cream is thick.
  14. Pour the whipped topping into a piping bag (or ziplock bag, see above tip!).
  15. Cut a small slit in the side of the eclairs. I found it best to make two slits, top and bottom. Pipe the cream into the eclairs being careful not to burst the pastry. Continue until all the eclairs are filled.
  16. Final step! Spoon the melted chocolate mixture over the eclairs to cover. You could drizzle white chocolate or sprinkles on top for extra pizzazz!