‘People tend to have a fear of choux pastry and so rarely or never make it’, says chef Edward Hayden. ‘It is, in fact, one of the easiest pastries to make providing you follow the very simple rules. Éclairs are a very popular option and if you are visiting family and friends I’m sure a plate of chocolate éclairs would be very gratefully received – and if you serve them to your own guests, they’ll be sure to come again!’ From Food for Friends by Edward Hayden.
9 floz/250 ml cold water
4 oz/110 g butter
Pinch of sugar and salt
5 oz/150 g strong flour
4 large eggs
8 floz/225 ml whipped cream
4o z/110 g dark chocolate
2 fl oz/50 ml pouring cream
1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4. Grease two baking sheets with melted butter.
2. Put the butter, water, salt & sugar in a large saucepan and bring to the boil. It is important that the mixture comes to the boil; if you just melt it and do not allow it to come to the boil the mixture will go dramatically wrong. Take the saucepan off the heat.
3. Sift the flour and add it, all at once, to the boiling liquid. Stir rapidly with a wooden spoon. Return the saucepan to the heat and beat continuously until the mixture comes clean away from the sides of the saucepan. You are cooking the flour at this stage. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and allow to cool for about five minutes.
4. In a separate bowl whisk the eggs together, then slowly beat them into the cooked paste. I use an electric whisk as the mixture can be quite stiff. Add the eggs little by little, beating thoroughly between each addition.
5. Using a piping bag, pipe the choux pastry into long strips about 4 inches/10cm long. You should get approximately 12-15 éclairs out of the mix. Bake for 30-35 minutes; they should sound hollow when tapped underneath. Remove from the oven and allow them to cool on a wire rack.
6. Meanwhile make the icing. Place the cream into a medium saucepan and heat gently. Chop the chocolate into pieces and whisk it into the warmed cream and continue to whisk over a low heat until a smooth, glossy icing is achieved.
7. When they are cool, split each éclair, fill with the whipped cream and spread with the dark chocolate ganache topping.
You can buy Edward Hayden’s ‘Food for Friends’ at Amazon – see the link below.