I love my mom as much as the next gal (unless the next gal has a horrible mom and does not love her), but that doesn't mean that she and I drink the same amount of Diet Coke, wear the same amount of diamond jewelry, or eat chocolate éclairs the same way. Of course, that's really beside the point. The point is that my mom and I made éclairs, and they were fantastic. So, thanks, Mom—for visiting and cooking with me and letting Matt capture the magic on camera. You've always supported all of my weird projects and for that, and everything else, I love you! Happy Mother's Day.
Chocolate Éclairs slightly adapted from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Fizz Carr's The River Cottage Family Cookbook
makes about 12
(Instead of thick pastry cream, Hugh and Fizz stuff their éclairs with whipped cream. I personally think this was a great idea.)
5 tablespoons butter
7/8 cup water
a pinch of salt
scant 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
3 free-range eggs
1 cup heavy cream (+ 2 teaspoons of sugar if you want to sweeten your whipped cream a bit.)
For the chocolate icing:
1/2 cup superfine sugar
6 tablespoons water
2 oz. dark chocolate
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Preheat oven to 400F. Dice the butter, put it in the medium saucepan
with the water and salt, and turn the heat to low. Stir from time to
time with the wooden spoon as the butter melts. Meanwhile, sift the
flour into a small bowl.
2. When the butter has melted, turn up the heat and bring the
mixture to a boil. Turn off the heat and quickly add the flour to the
saucepan. Immediately beat the flour into the liquid with the wooden
spoon to mix all the ingredients together. After a few seconds or so,
you'll find that the mixture swells into a smooth dough that comes away
from the sides of the saucepan. Stop beating.
3. Remove the pan from the heat. Let the mixture cool for 3 or 4
minutes. Crack the eggs into the medium bowl and whisk them with the
fork. Pour a little of the egg into the flour mixture and beat it in
well. Keep adding and beating in the egg, a little at a time, until the
dough looks thick, smooth, and shiny and still holds its shape well. You
may not need the last 2 or 3 tablespoons of egg if your eggs are large
4. If you happen to have an éclair pan, spoon the mixture into the éclair pan, keeping in mind that these things are going to puff up like crazy so you don't need much dough per éclair. If
you don't have an eclair pan: spoon the mixture into a freezer bag
(you'll need to scrape it out of the pan with a plastic spatula). Fold
down the top of the bag to squeeze the dough to the bottom. Snip off one
of the bottom corners of the bag to give you a hole about 3/8 inch
long. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Squeeze the mixture
into sausage shapes about 4 inches long onto the parchment, allowing
about 1 1/2 inches of space between each one (they should at least
double in size in the oven). You should be able to make about 12.
5. Oven gloves on. (That's what Hugh and Fizz calls them. Kinda
cute.) Place the baking sheets in the hot oven and leave for about 30
minutes. When the éclairs are ready, they should be puffed up, a good
golden brown all over, and feel hard when you poke one with a knife.
Oven gloves on again. Take out the baking sheet and turn off the oven.
6. Immediately take each éclair off the sheets and, with the point of a
knife, gently slit the side to let out the steam. (Otherwise the steam
sits trapped in the eclair and turns back to water, leaving you with a
soggy pastry.) Let them cool and dry out on the wire rack.
7. Whip the cream in the small bowl with the whisk (adding the two teaspoons of sugar if you're adding it, about halfway through) until it's just thick
enough to hold its shape. Put it in the fridge while you make the
8. For the icing, put the sugar and water in a small saucepan, place it
in the stove, and turn the heat to low. Heat gently, stirring all the
time with a wooden spoon to dissolve the sugar. Bring to a boil and boil
fast for 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and wait for a few
minutes for the syrup to cool down (you can speed this up by dipping the
bottom of the pan in a bowl of cold water, if you like). Meanwhile,
break up the chocolate and cut the butter into chunks.
9. When the syrup is very warm, rather than very hot, add the chocolate
and butter. Stir until both have melted and blended to a smooth, glossy
sauce. Let cool, stirring occasionally. When the sauce starts to
thicken, it's ready to ice your eclairs.
10. When the pastries are cool, use a teaspoon to fill the inside of
each éclair with whipped cream (you may need to enlarge the slit that
you made before). Then take a different teaspoon and smear the chocolate
icing generously over each eclair. Leave the eclaris on the wire rack
until the icing has set. In the unlikely event that you're not going to
eat them straight away, you can put them in the fridge for a few hours.