for the dough
1 c. water
1 stick of unsalted butter (4 oz)
pinch of salt
1 T. sugar
1 c. bread flour (AP flour works also)
for the chocolate glaze
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate
1 stick of unsalted butter (4 oz. at room temp.)
for the whipped cream
1 c. heavy cream (cold)
2 T. powdered sugar
1 t. vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Make the glaze: melt chocolate and butter in the microwave or over a double boiler to melt. Let cool at room temperature until you are ready to glaze.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a medium saucepan bring water, butter, and salt to a boil over medium heat.
- Add flour and stir with a wooden spoon until dough comes away from the sides of the pan, about 30 seconds.
- Take the pan off of heat and add eggs one at a time, stirring until each egg is completely incorporated into the dough before adding the next one. This is when you will notice the dough will appear to “break”. Just keep stirring and before you know it, all will be well again and you will be ready to add the next egg.
- Use a spatula to transfer the dough to a piping bag and let rest at room temperature for at least 15 minutes.
- Once the dough is rested, snip off the tip of your pastry bag (You are looking for about a ½” tip or opening).
- Ok, let’s have a quick pep talk: Next is piping the dough onto the parchment parchment paper (or silpat) lined baking sheet. It’s just one of those things that you have to believe you can do (with gusto!) before you do it for the first time (kind of like much of life, huh?). It’s actually very straightforward (wow, no pun intended I swear!). Sure, the finished product looks like you’ve just been to a Parisian pastry shop, but there is no doubt in my mind that with a small amount of practice, these will soon be a snap for you to make.
- For Eclairs, you are looking to pipe a straight line of dough (about 5″x 1″). Take a minute to visualize how many rows you want to make. A typical baking sheet will usually be big enough to make 3 rows of 4 (12). Take a few deep breaths and rest the tip of your piping bag on the sheet tray where you want to start. Piping from the back of the bag and your palm, squeeze the dough out relatively slowly and as you see a 1″ thickness form, keep piping and pull your hand back until you’ve reached around 5″ long. The key is to not be afraid of the moving dough and piping bag. You are in control of the dough, the speed and the movement!
- For profiteroles, you are looking to pipe tablespoon size rounds (think 1”x 1”) onto the sheet tray about 2 inches apart. Check out the photo’s in the gourgeres post to get an idea for size.
- For both the eclairs and profiteroles, there comes a time when you want to end the piping and move on to the next one. There is a little bit of technique to do it and I have a few tips for this:
- keep your pastry bag still when piping out the dough and keep the tip almost touching the sheet tray for each one.
- to make a clean break between the pastry bag and your piped eclair or profiterole, instead of pulling up, make a quick and confident swipe to the side. This will leave a little mountain looking peak.
- After you’ve piped the entire tray, dip your finger in a little water and gently pat down the peak of each one.
- Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until they are a deep golden brown and nicely puffed up. Remove from the oven, and make a tiny slit in the side with the tip of a sharp knife to allow the steam to escape. This is how they will stay crispy. Let cool completely.
- Make the whipped cream and use a spatula to transfer to a piping bag.
- Wait to fill the eclairs until you are ready to serve them. The last thing you want is a soggy eclair. The same is true for cannolis (I wish I could scream that from a mountain top but that’s for a different time). Oh, it should also be said that classically eclairs are filled with pastry cream, I just love the light texture of fresh whipped cream with the pastry and glaze. Snip the tip (1/4″) and fill the pastry in the side where you slit the side for the steam to escape.
- Once the eclairs are filled, dip the top half into the glaze which by now should be nice and cool. Place chocolate side up on a baking sheet and you are ready to serve.
**If you want to really dig into the depths of eclair making, I would highly recommend checking out Ironwhisks’ tutorial on the subject. Talk about a labor of eclair love!
Component in Action
- fill with pastry cream, whipped cream or combinations of both.
- incorporate various flavors/fruits into the filling (raspberries, strawberries, chocolate, spices)
- play around with the glaze incorporating liquor or spices like cinnamon.
- you could get wild and top the glaze with something crunch like candied nuts.