I am happy that I finally had the chance to share this Eclair recipe with you. I had been wanting to do this for a long time but never got the chance to do it. Aside from being busy with other stuff, I want this blog to be more than just a recipe that you would follow. I want to share with you tips and how to be successful in making this, and I want to share with you what I found out useful when I am researching about pâte à choux.
I did a lot of research about choux pastry before I tried making Profiteroles. I find it intimidating at first, I almost back out with the idea of making it. I am glad I took the challenge instead of backing out. It feels very rewarding to be able to successfully make pâte à choux. Now I can enjoy Eclair and Profiteroles at home and I can share it with my friends too.
Profiteroles and Eclair both uses pâte à choux (pronounced pat-a-shoe) or choux paste. This is simply cooked flour and butter (which is called roux) mixed with eggs. It is thicker than batter, but not as stiff as regular dough.The dough is cooked on stove top before mixing in the egg.
It sounds fancy and difficult, but this is one of the basic and easy pastry that will let you do a lot of things. Once you know how to make it , there’s a whole world of pastries and desserts this will open to you.
Profiteroles and Eclair have a trademark of having a hollow center. The hollow center holds the filling. I always wondered how it ended up having a hollow center, and how come it “puff” and expand eventhough the dough doesn’t use and leavening agent like baking powder or baking soda? This is why.
- Once pâte à choux hits the heat of the oven, all this liquid quickly turns to steam, leavens the paste, and makes it rise. In addition, the proteins in the eggs uncoil, stretch, and “puff.” The signature hollow-ness of baked choux is a result of these proteins being stretched so far that they break. The eggs will eventually set, as cooked eggs do, to help support the structure and create the crisp outer shell of baked choux paste. However, if under-baked, the proteins will recoil and cause the choux to shrivel up and collapse.
- As with many other pastries, eggs also provide flavor and color to choux pastries. Any flavor at all can be attributed to the egg yolk, or simply, the fat. The yolk is also responsible for its appealing golden color.
How to tell if Choux Paste is ready?
This is often a struggle as a lot of factors can affect the consistency and texture of the choux paste, just like when making French Macarons. Sometimes, no matter how you follow exactly the ingredients , measurement and steps, it just doesn’t come out the way you expect it to be.
Finished choux paste should be soft, smooth and be able to be piped. Not too stiff and not to runny to the point that it starts to drip out of the tip even without squeezing the piping bag. It should be similar to photo no 10 in the photo grid in the instruction section.
Choux pastry is a 3 part baking process – so be patient
Baking pâte à choux is a three-part process: First, with the oven at high heat (400°F), the pastries puff and begin to set, this is where it starts to create the structure; Second you lower the heat to 350°F to bake them and develop their golden color and to maintain the structure that was created in process 1; Third, you turn OFF the oven and leave the puff in the oven to let the pastries hang out a little longer to make sure they’re dried-out and crisp.
How many Eggs?
You might be wondering why I am still asking when the recipe already say 1 egg. It’s important to only add as much egg as the dough will hold. If you add too many eggs, the dough will be too wet, you’ll have trouble piping it, and the pastries will have trouble puffing and drying out in the oven. This is why it is important to add the add gradually, especially if you are making a larger batch. Some days, you’ll need 1 whole egg. Other days, there will be little left. It all depends on the humidity in your house and the kind of flour you’re using that day (old flour/new flour). Once you get the hang of making this, you will be know immediately if you reach the correct consistency.
Again, it may sound intimidating because of all this explanation, but it is not. Do not be discouraged if you fail the first time, or second time, or 3rd time. You will eventually get it right with practice & practice. Believe me, it’s really worth it.
Regardless how you decide to fill it your choux pastry ,or what shape you choose to make, how you decide to coat it, in the end, Profiteroles and Eclair both taste great. So, once you are able to make either one of them, it is as good as being able to make both of them. You can even make both of them at the same time. Isn’t it great? 2 birds in one stone! Let’s get started!
- 1/3 cup water
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter (at room temperature)
- 1/3 cup All-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1 large egg, beaten (at room temperature)
- Vanilla Pastry Cream or Vanilla Mousseline Cream or Caramel Mousseline Cream or Whipped Cream
- Espresso Whipped Cream – Whipped Cream + 1 tsp instant espresso powder
- Chocolate Ganache
- 1/2 tsp icing sugar for dusting (optional)
Note: Click the photo to see the description
- Make Filling. Pastry Cream or Mousseline Cream or Whipped Cream. This can be done ahead of time and stored in the fridge.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C) and place rack in center of oven.
- In a bowl whisk the flour with the sugar and salt.
- Place the butter and water in a saucepan over medium high heat and bring to a boil.
- Remove from heat and, with a wooden spoon, add the flour mixture, all at once, and stir until combined.
- Return saucepan to the heat and stir constantly until the dough comes away from the sides of the pan and forms a thick smooth ball (about 1-2 minutes).
- Transfer the dough to your electric mixer (can do this by hand or with a hand mixer), and beat on low-speed to release the steam from the dough (about 1 minute). Once the dough is lukewarm start gradually add lightly beaten egg (dough will separate and then come together) and continue to mix until you have a smooth thick paste (dough will fall from a spoon in a thick ribbon).
- Place the dough in a pastry bag fitted with a large plain round tip and pipe. You can also use tea-spoon to scoop the choux pastry. If you do this, to get the most rise out of your dough, scoop 2 tea spoonful of dough and make each scoop overlap with each other when you arrange it in the baking sheet. It’s like piling it together to form a wide oblong shape.
- If desired, with a pastry brush, gently brush the tops of the dough with a lightly beaten egg to get a nice brown top.
- Bake the Eclairs for 10 minutes, then open the oven door for 5 seconds, lower the heat to 350, and close the door. Continue to bake at 350F for 18-20 minutes. Do not be afraid of brownness. If the dough is under-bake, the inside will not dry out.
- When the Eclairs are done baking, turn the oven off, and remove the sheet from the oven. Using a thin knife, poke a hole or make a slit in the side of each Eclair. Return the pan to the turned-off oven, and let cool for 30 minutes with the oven door ajar. This will make the shell crunchy with dry and hollow center.
Good to know:
- Pastry Cream or Mousseline Cream can be made 2-3 days ahead. Store in an airtight container and refrigerate.
- Choux pastry can be made 2 days ahead. Store in a ziplock bag and refrigerate. Take out from the fridge and leave in room temperature for 30 minutes. Pipe or scoop when ready to bake.
- Baked and cooled shells can also be frozen in zipper-lock bags for up to one month and recrisped in a 300-degree oven for 8 to 10 minutes. Cool completely before putting filling.
- Baked and cooled shells can also be refrigerated in airtight containers for up to 2 days and recrisped in a 300-degree oven for 8 – 10 minutes. Cool completely before putting filling.
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- Make Chocolate Ganche.
- Fill the piping bag with Vanilla Pastry Cream or Vanilla Mousseline Cream or Whipped Cream.
- Cut the choux pastry into half and scoop or pipe small portion of filling inside. If you do not want to cut it, you can also inject filling in the puff.
- Dip the top of the Eclair into the Chocolate Ganache. You can also have it plain, just dust confectioners sugar on top.
Quote of the Day
“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.”
― Charles M. Schulz