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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 backed out with the idea of making it. I am glad I took the challenge instead of backing out. It felt 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 or not as thin as pancake batter. 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 custard filling. I always wondered how it ended up having a hollow center, and how came out “puff” and expand eventhough the dough doesn’t use and leavening agent like baking powder or baking soda? Let me tell you why.
- How it “Puff”: Once pâte à choux hits the heat of the oven, all the liquid quickly turns to steam, leavens the dough, 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.
- Golden Color: 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 above, see how it flows down freely?
How Much Egg Do You Need?
Adding the beaten egg in 4 additions allow you to monitor the consistency
Since amount of liquid greatly affect the consistency of the choux paste, you have to add beaten egg gradually. Some egg are bigger than the others, you may not end up using everything. This is a small batch recipe so this only uses 1 egg to start with, no more but could be a little bit less at times. If you are making a bigger batch, it is always advisable to beat the egg first then add it gradually so that you can control the amount of 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 and runny, you’ll have trouble piping it, and the pastry could end up flat and will have trouble puffing and drying out in the oven. Some days, you’ll need 1 whole egg. Other days, there will be little left, this is why adding it in 4 addition is very important. Usually, at the 3rd addition you should be getting the right consistency already, the 4th addition is sometimes not needed. Also, the consistency affects the state of the flour and the humidity in your house, and the size of egg. Old flour tends to be drier which often require a little bit more liquid as oppose to new flour. If this happens, I normally add small about of water just to thin it out if I run out of egg. What you are looking for in terms of consistency is something that is not too thick and dense nor too thin. Once you get the hang in making this, you can tell immediately when you reach the correct consistency. Just a little practice and you will get there.
Making a Choux Pastry is a 3 Part Baking Process – So Be Patient
Baking pâte à choux is a three-part process:
First, start with a high temperature, high heat (400°F). At the first 10 minutes of baking in this temperature, the pastry will start to puff and develop the structure needed to have a hollow center.
Second, Once the pastry puff, the oven temperature is lowered to 350°F and baking continues for 20 more minutes. At this stage, the pastry starts the browning of the shell and further makes the shell stable
Third, The third stage is to turn off the oven and and leave the pastry in the oven for 30 minutes. This stage helps the pastry to dry out and have a crispy shell.
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 tablespoon unsalted Butter (softened at room temperature, but NOT melting and oily)
- 1/3 cup All-Purpose Flour
- 1/2 teaspoon granulated Sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon fine Salt
- 1 large Egg, beaten (at room temperature)
- 1/2 teaspoon Icing Sugar for dusting (optional)
- Vanilla Pastry Cream
- Vanilla Mousseline Cream
- Caramel Mousseline Cream
- Whipped Cream
- Espresso Whipped Cream – Whipped Cream + 1 tsp instant espresso powder
- Chocolate Ganache
- Make the Pastry Cream Filling. You can choose from any of the filling options mentioned above. Filling can be done ahead of time, 2-3 days ahead. Tightly cover and keep refrigerated until ready to use.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C) and place rack in center of oven.
- Dry Ingredients: In a bowl, whisk together flour, sugar and salt.
- Cook the Dough: Place the butter and water in a saucepan over medium high heat and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and add the flour mixture, all at once and stir until combined. Return the 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, or until it forms into a dough). You will know that is is ready when the color of the dough changes or when it becomes thicker. Do NOT over cook as this could make the dough tough and it will no create a hollow center.
- Add the Egg: Transfer the dough in a bowl and beat on low-speed to release the steam from the dough (about 1 minute). Feel the side of the bowl, once the dough is lukewarm gradually add the beaten eggs (dough will separate and then come together) in 4 addition and continue to mix until you have a smooth thick paste (dough will fall from a spoon in a thick ribbon). Do NOT pour all the egg one time, sometimes you do not need to use all of it. The consistency should be smooth and it should fall of the spatula like in the photo. Sometimes, all you need is up to 3 addition of beaten egg, and sometimes you might end up using all.
- Shape the Dough: Place the dough in a pastry bag fitted with a large plain round tip or use 2 small spoon to scoop the pastry dough. Divide the dough into 6 pieces (or 5 for a bigger pieces), each piece about 2-inches long. Arrange in a parchment lined baking sheet. Space each peace about 1-inch away from each other to give room for the puff pastry when it expand.
- Eggwash (Optional: If desired, bush the top with egg wash (1 beaten egg + 1 tbsp milk or water)
- Bake – Stage 1: the puffs for 10 minutes, then open the oven door for 5 seconds, lower the heat to 350F, and close the door.At this stage, the dough should start to rise and puff.
- Bake – Stage 2: Continue to bake at 350F for 18-20 minutes. At this second stage, the pastry will start to brown and set. Check if the shell is browned already, it not bake for another 5 – 8 minutes. If the dough is under-bake, the inside will not dry out so do not worry about slight browning.
- Rest – Stage 3: Let it Dry: Turn OFF the oven and remove the pastry. Using a thin knife, poke a hole or make a slit in the side of each puff, just a small one. Do not cut all the way through. Return the pan to the turned-off oven, and let cool and dry for 30 minutes with the oven door ajar. This will make the shell crunchy with dry and hollow center.
- Let Cool: Transfer the puffs in a wire rack and cool completely before filling with pastry cream.
- Fill the piping bag with filling of your choice.
- Make a small hole at the bottom of the choux pastry. You can also cut the choux pastry into half and scoop small portion of filling inside just like in the photo.
- Insert the tip of the piping bag in the small hole and squeeze to let the filling out.
- Dip the top of the cream puff into the Chocolate Ganache. You can also have it plain, just dust confectioners sugar on top.
Makes 9 pieces
Note: Click on the photo to see the description
Good to Know:
- Filling 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 re-crisped in a 300-degree oven for 8 to 10 minutes. Cool completely before putting filling.
- Although filled puff can be refrigerated or frozen, it is always best to enjoy it the same day you make it. You can make the shell few hours ahead and re-heat it to restore the crispy texture then filled with your choice of filling.
Quote of the Day
“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.”
― Charles M. Schulz
Enjoy! If you make this, share and tag me in Instagram #SweetNSpicyLiving. I would like to see your creations too.
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