Our family loves to eat… and cook, but I’ve honestly never been strong at baking anything, I don’t know why, but baking has always seemed more of a mystery to me. When we were at the bookstore about a month ago, I saw this cookbook cover and was immediately taken in by the eclairs. They are hands-down my favorite pastry, and I couldn’t resist looking at the recipe to see how exactly they are made from scratch. Pretty easy… I thought.
The recipe was done by a woman who had worked in a professional French bakery… she clearly knew her way around pastries. I thought I’d let you readers in on our adventure through making éclairs… it took longer than I imagined it would, but it wasn’t really hard at all! They make for an impressive dessert for a party, and you can always make them into Cream Puffs if you’d rather serve them that way (it is the same recipe).
So… you make the eclairs in the order that is on this page: the Pate a Choux (crisp breading), the Cream Filling (the St. Tropez cream was her own version of the perfect pastry cream… I absolutely LOVED it… much lighter than the traditional version), and then the Chocolate Ganache (which is much much tastier than just melted chocolate… it is only 2 ingredients, but you’d be surprised how hard it is not to eat before using on the pastries).
To make the dough, you first have to cook it on the stove and then bake it – so it’s really cooked twice… which creates the hollowed out inside, and crispy texture of the pastry – perfect for easy filling. Below is how it should progress: add flour & salt to the melted down butter, mix until it pulls away from pan and forms dough, and the 3rd step is mixing in the eggs one at a time until the dough is nice and shiny:
Then you pipe the dough into a bag with the tip cut off (or pastry bag), and make the eclairs a little bigger than a hot-dog size onto a greased or foil-covered pan
Bake at 425’F for 10 minutes then lower it to 350’F for another 25 to 30 minutes until the pastries are dry inside and not still wet (they should visibly turn light golden). You then leave them in the oven (with it turned off of course) with the door propped open so that they can dry out longer
You can use a knife to gently poke a hole into the tip, or like the chef in the cookbook did, slice through the éclair completely to make almost like a sandwich. Since some of mine came out not as wide, it was easier to slice them through.
The St. Tropez cream really is unique, it is basically traditional vanilla pastry cream mixed with a whipped cream. We had a lot left over – which was great! We used it over our coffee for the next few mornings – it was quite a lot! (Use the directions in the video attached if you want to know exactly how to make it – it is not hard, but it is easier to watch)
After the vanilla cream is chilled for at least 30 minutes, you can literally just whip up heavy cream in a bowl to create a beautiful, light, fluffy whipped cream that you then add into the thicker and heavier vanilla cream – once mixed it is a divine combination!
Chocolate ganache can be quickly made by microwaving your chocolate chunks or chips, then adding the heavy cream and mixing with a fork. Dip the filled eclairs and allow to dry thoroughly on a cool table or counter.
Enjoy your heavenly homemade Eclairs!
Video used in making our pastries (perfect instructions… and she makes the St. Tropez cream):