Chocolate Eclairs

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 Eclairs are my mum’s favourite dessert. Not exactly these ones. Her weakness are the sickly sweet ones from Perera & Sons Bakers in Sri Lanka, filled not with custard cream but the oh-so-sickly sweet chocolate buttercream!

Anyway, this recipe is dedicated to my mum and all the other awesome mums out there. I hope Mother’s Day brings the simple pleasure we are all in search of. A meal cooked by someone else, even Ronald McDonald or the Colonel might suffice. A house cleaned by a stranger and the chance to wake up when we choose to, or not to, if we so choose.

I know your mum will love these beauties. Admittedly they are a lot of work, but they’ll make your mum feel like a million bucks.

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Ingredients

Pastry

  • 3/4 cup of plain flour (sifted)
  • 1/4 cup water and 1/2 cup milk mixed together
  • 1.5 tbsp. butter
  • 2 eggs

Cream filling

  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/2 vanilla bean
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 2/3 cup of sugar
  • 1/4 cup corn flour
  • 2 tbsp. cold butter

Glaze

  • 100 g chocolate

Preparation

Preheat oven to 400F/205C.

In the bowl of your stand mixer, fitted with paddle attachment, add the sifted flour and a pinch of salt.

In a small saucepan melt the butter with the milk and water mixture. When it comes to the boil pour into the flour and salt mixture and turn the mixer on low speed. Mix until the dough comes away from the sides of the pan, usually a  couple of minutes. The dough can look a little scary when you first add the liquid, just keep mixing. Trust me, if you’ve measured correctly, it’ll come together.

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Leave to cool for 5 minutes.

Crack the eggs into a separate bowl and with the mixer on low add one at a time. Wait for the first one to be fully incorporated before adding the next. The mixture will become wetter but should still be able to hold it’s shape.

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At this point you’ll need a piping bag or a ziploc bag with a corner cut out. Place the mixture into the bag and pipe onto a lined baking tray leaving about a cm between each. I made mine about 5 cm/2 inch long, the size is really up to you.

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I used a 1 cm nozzle on my piping bag, it was a cheap plastic one that has been extremely useful.

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One of my favourite piping bag tricks is to sit the bag in a tall glass with the top of the bag draped over the sides. Then you can simply spoon the mixture in and the top stays clean to close and twist, ready to pipe.

Place the tray of eclairs in the oven and leave for 10 minutes before turning the heat down to 350F/175 C and leave for a further 15  minutes or until golden brown. The cooking time will vary, based on how big your eclairs are. Just keep an eye on them. You’re after a nice golden brown.

 

Leave the eclairs to cool . When cooled use a skewer inserted into the side to centre push the dough against the sides of the eclair. This makes more room for the custard to go in! Be gentle when doing this, the pastries are still quite fragile.

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For the custard

In a medium saucepan add the milk and the vanilla bean and bring nearly to the boil. Just as it’s boiling turn the heat off and leave the mixture to cool and infuse.

Mix the cornflour, egg yolks and sugar together in a medium bowl until smooth.

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Add 1/2 a cup of the warm milk mixture to the sugar and yolks  to acclimatise them. Then add the rest of the milk before mixing and placing all of the custard mix back into the saucepan. Place on a medium heat and stir continuously until the mixture thickens. I turn the heat to low once the mixture is thick as it can go from thick to lumpy very quickly.

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Once the mixture is thick and smooth, take off the heat and add the butter. Stir, place in an airtight container and place in the fridge to cool.

Melting the chocolate

Place the chocolate in a microwave safe bowl and warm in 20 second bursts, stirring between each, until melted.

Putting it all together

I used a piping bag with a small metal tip. Fill the bag with custard and use the metal tip to insert into the bottom of the eclair, then squeeze until the eclair is full.

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If you don’t have a piping bag and tip, use a serrated knife to slice in half and then spread the custard inside.

Spread the melted chocolate on top and place in the fridge until cool and set. Will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for a few days.

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