Happy 2016 Everyone!
This éclair recipe from Flour cookbook by Joanne Chang is a delicious go to recipe for me. It makes 12 éclairs or 24 cream puffs. This cookbook has lots of delicious recipes we can make at home. I like the details the author provides to make delicious baked goods.
For the choux pastry...
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup water
1 cup plus 1 tbsp unbleached all purpose flour
In a medium saucepan, over medium heat the butter, sugar, salt and water until the butter melts. Do not let the mixture come to a boil. Add flour all at once and use a wooden spoon to stir the flour into the liquid until it incorporates. The mixture will look like a stiff pancake batter. Keep stirring over medium heat for about 3 to 4 minutes until the mixture starts to get stiffer and looks more like a loose dough and less like a batter. The batter will loose its shine and becomes more matte and leave the bottom of the pan.
Remove the pan from the heat and transfer the dough to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix the dough on medium low speed for 1 minute. This will let some steam to escape and the dough will cool slightly. Crack four eggs into a pitcher, whisk to breakup the yolks. Gradually add the eggs to the dough on medium low speed. When all the eggs are added, turn up the speed to medium and beat for 20 seconds until the dough is glossy and shiny.
Fit a pastry bag with 1" round tip and fill the bag with the dough. Pipe out strips about 5" long and 1" wide or 1 1/2" diameter balls into prepared baking sheets spacing a few inches apart.
Bake in a 400F preheated oven for 15 minutes when the pastries have puffed up and start turning golden brown, turn down the oven to 325F and bake for 30 minutes or until the pastries are brown. Cool completely on the pans over wire racks.
Cooled pastries can be stored unfilled in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 2 weeks. Remove from the freezer and refresh by baking in a 325F oven for 6 to 8 minutes or until thawed. Cool before filling. It can be stored unfilled in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days, refresh in a 325F oven for 2 to 3 minutes and cool before serving.
For the filling Tropez cream...
1 cup milk
1/4 vanilla bean split lengthwise or 1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup sugar
3 tbsp cake flour
pinch of salt
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup heavy cream
Put the milk in a medium saucepan, add the scraped seeds from the vanilla bean to the pan with the pod, and oven medium high heat scald the milk until bubbles start to form around the edge of the pan but the milk is not boiling.
In a small bowl stir sugar, cake flour, and salt. Whisk together the egg and egg yolk until blended and slowly whisk the flour mixture until it is thick and pasty.
Remove the milk from the heat and add it to the sugar flour mixture little at a time. Return the contents of the bowl to the saucepan and place over medium heat. Whisk for 4 to 6 minutes until the mixture thickens and comes to a boil. Mixture will be frothy at first, but it will thicken and frothy bubbles will disappear and becomes more viscous. Once it thickens in about 10 seconds stop whisking and remove the pan from the heat. Boiling the mixture will thicken it and cook out the flour taste, but when boiled longer it will become grainy.
Pour the custard through a fine-mesh sieve into a heatproof bowl and cover with a plastic wrap placing it directly on the surface of the custard. This will prevent a skin from forming. Place it in the fridge for about 4 hours until cold. The cream can be stored in an air tight container and kept in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Just before filling the éclairs, using a whisk or hand held mixer whip the heavy cream until it holds a peak that is thick and soft. Fold the whipped cream to the whisked chilled custard. Cover and refrigerate the 3 cups of filling.
For the ganache...
4 oz semisweet chocolate
1/2 cup heavy cream
Place the chocolate in a heat proof bowl. In a small pan scald the 1/2 cup cream over medium high heat and pour the cream over the chocolate until it is melted and the mixture is smooth. Let cool to room temperature.
Split the pastries in half lengthwise and fill with the cream. Dip the top half of the éclairs with the room temperature ganache and set it over the cream filled bottoms for about 6 to 8 minutes for the chocolate to set. Serve within 4 hours.
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