Feeling a little French with éclairs

img_4708As life gets busy and we are in full swing of our daily routines, I like to daydream that I am walking the streets of Paris munching on baguette, eating every flavor of Macaron that I come across and finishing my day with a perfectly filled éclairs.

Not so long ago, these oblong piped pastries were an old fashion and out of style treat from the past, but éclairs have made a comeback and I hope they are here to stay. Although we would all like to be walking the streets of Paris, éclairs can be made in your own home or have become a staple at several local bakeries to fill your craving.img_4698

The classic éclairs which dates back to the 19th century in France is made of pâte à choux, filled pastry cream and topped with a chocolate glaze but now they can also be found in the most indulgent and creative flavors to take you through each season.

pâte à choux, is a special dough made by cooking butter, water, milk and flour together and then beating the eggs in. The steam of the flour mixture and egg combination is what creates the light weight hollow pastry shell that is perfect to fill. Although, it has a fancy name and the process might be intimidating, don’t give up on making your own, it only gets easier.img_4688

As the pâte à choux is baking, your next step is pastry cream and this is where your flavor creations can come into play. Pastry cream is similar to a pudding base, combining milk, sugar, egg yolks and cornstarch cooking over a stove top until thick. If there are any specific flavors such as raspberry, peanut butter, coffee or pistachio, this is the time to add them in.img_4690img_4696

Finish these decadent pastries with only the best, chocolate! Dipping these cream filled shells into a chocolate glaze is the final step to this classic french pastry. Whether you are enjoying Eclairs for breakfast, brunch or dessert, the crisp shell and smooth cream filling will make all your hard work worth it.img_4724

éclairs
Yields 14
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pâte à choux
  1. 1/2 Cup Whole Milk
  2. 1/2 Cup Water
  3. 8 Tbsp Unsalted Butter, Cubed
  4. 1/2 tsp Sugar
  5. 1/4 tsp Salt
  6. 1 Cup All Purpose Flour
  7. 5 Eggs, Room Temperature
Vanilla Bean Pastry Cream
  1. 2 Cups Whole Milk
  2. 1/2 Cup Granulated Sugar
  3. 1 Vanilla Bean, Split and Scraped
  4. 4 Tbsp Cornstarch
  5. 5 Egg Yolks
  6. 1/2 Cup Heavy Cream, Whipped
Chocolate Glaze
  1. 1 Cup Semi Sweet Chocolate or White Chocolate
  2. 6 Tbsp Unsalted Butter, Softened
pâte à choux
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
  2. In a medium saucepan combine milk, water, butter, sugar and salt
  3. Heat mixture until butter is melted and just starting to simmer
  4. Add flour into butter mixture and stir vigorously with a wood spoon until dough comes together and create a film on the bottom of the pan
  5. Transfer the dough to a mixer with paddle attachment and turn on medium speed
  6. Beat the dough on medium speed to release the steam from the dough, approximately 1 minute
  7. Slowly add eggs one at a time until the dough comes back together and has the texture of paste
  8. Transfer dough into a pastry bag with start tip and pipe into 4 inch long logs
  9. Bake at 400 degrees F for 10 minutes and then turn oven to 375 degrees F for another 20 minutes or until golden brown
  10. Shut oven off and prop open the door and leave the pâte à choux shells in for another 5 minutes
  11. Remove from the oven and allow them to cool completely before filling or store in an airtight container and freeze until ready to use.
Vanilla Bean Pastry Cream
  1. Combine milk, 1/2 of the sugar, and vanilla bean in a medium saucepan placed over high heat
  2. Whisk together remaining sugar, cornstarch and egg yolks
  3. Once the milk has come to a simmer, whisking continuously slowly add 1/3 of the milk mixture into the egg mixture to temper the eggs
  4. Return the tempered egg mixture back into the saucepan and continue whisking until pastry cream becomes thick and starts to bubble
  5. Remove the pastry cream from the heat, strain through a fine sieve, pour it into a shallow bowl and cover with plastic wrap pressed to the surface to prevent a skin forming
  6. Allow the pastry cream to cool to room temperature before refrigerating
  7. Store in air tight container for up to 3 days if not using immediately
  8. Before filling the eclairs, fold whipped cream into pastry cream to lighten up the custard
Chocolate Glaze
  1. Melt chocolate in a microwave safe bowl
  2. Whisk in butter into melted chocolate until smooth
Assembly
  1. Using small round pastry tip, poke 2 holes in the bottom of the pate a choux shell
  2. Fill pâte à choux shell with vanilla bean pastry cream
  3. Dip the top of the shell into melted dark chocolate glaze and garnish with white chocolate drizzle and gold leaf (optional)
  4. Refrigerate until ready to serve
Flavor Options
Chocolate Peanut Butter
  1. Add 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter to the pastry cream once it is removed from the saucepan and still warm. Cover with plastic wrap pressed to the surface and allow the pastry cream to cool to room temperature before refrigerating. Continue following directions from above. Once the pate a choux is filled, dip the top of shell into dark chocolate glaze and sprinkle with unsalted peanuts for garnish.
Pistachio
  1. Add 1/4 cup pistachio paste to the pastry cream once it is removed from the saucepan and still warm. Cover with plastic wrap pressed to the surface and allow the pastry cream to cool to room temperature before refrigerating. Continue following directions from above. Once the pate a choux is filled, dip the top of shell into light green tinted white chocolate glaze and sprinkle with crushed pistachios for garnish.
Raspberry White Chocolate
  1. Add 1/4 cup raspberry puree to the pastry cream once it is removed from the saucepan and still warm. Cover with plastic wrap pressed to the surface and allow the pastry cream to cool to room temperature before refrigerating. Continue following directions from above. Once the pate a choux is filled, dip the top of shell into light pink tinted white chocolate glaze and garnish with fresh raspberries and white chocolate drizzle.
INK foods : In Nanny's Kitchen http://inkfoods.com/
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