Thursday, 25 July 2013

The next big thing - Chocolate Eclairs

I love choux paste. It's versatile, delicious and actually quite easy to make.
UK paper, The Independent, has tipped them as the next big thing; bigger than cupcakes, or even macaroons. They are being dressed up in all sorts of incarnations; something which suits them indeed, as the relatively plain bun can be filled with any number of fillings and adorned with whatever topping you like. I really like the pastry cream fillings, but my family always wants just good old Chantilly cream.

Thanks to Jen from Utterly in Love for shooting this cover photo as part of an up and coming advert for this blog in Hazed Magazine.

Choux Paste Buns for making Chocolate Eclairs

200ml water
85g butter
1 dessertspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
145g plain flour
4 to 5 eggs depending on the size - 245g weight once shelled

Preheat the oven to 200deg. C. Line a large baking tray with baking paper and grease or spray with butter or a non-stick spray.

Bring the butter, water, sugar and salt to the boil in a large saucepan.

Take from the heat and add the flour at once and beat until the mixture leaves the sides of the saucepan. Return to a low heat and stir the mixture for a few minutes in order to evaporate more water from the dough.

Transfer the mixture to the bowl of the beater and spread out to cool until just warm.

I usually give the flour dough a good mix with the whisk attachment in order to speed the cooling and develop the gluten in the flour. 

Lightly beat the eggs with a fork and slowly add to the dough in five parts, thoroughly beating between each addition. the mixture should be smooth and glossy.

Check the consistency of the dough before adding the final addition of egg, as the mixture should be of 'dropping consistency'. That means that it only just drops from the wooden spoon dropped back into the bowl.

Pipe the mixture into the baking tray.

Try to add height to the piped eclairs. I use a star nozzle in order to form a rougher textured bun.

Leave plenty of space between the buns to allow for rising.

Push any little peaks in the piped mixture down with wet hands.

Bake for 20 minutes at 200deg. C, then turn the oven down to 175deg and bake a further 20 minutes.

The buns should be golden brown and a nice crispy texture.

Allow to cool before piercing a hole in the base and using a piping bag to fill with Chantilly Cream - whip about 250ml cream with a couple of tablespoons of icing sugar and a teaspoon of vanilla extract. 

Make the chocolate icing by combining 2 tablespoons of melted butter with 2 tablespoons of sifted cocoa powder, 2 cups of icing sugar and enough warm water to make a nice smooth paste. The icing should easily spread on the eclairs, but be firm enough to not run off.

Eclairs are such a great treat for any occasion. The unfilled buns can be kept in an air tight container in the fridge for a few days or frozen for up to month.

Move over macaroon, here comes the eclair. 


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