Eclairs are one of those deserts that pretty much everyone has had and most people think they're really hard so they don't try. Really, an eclair is made from just three elements (dough, cream and chocolate glaze), all with small and simple recipes themselves. I took about half a million photos for you when I made these for my elcair-obsessed husband recently. So here we go!
Eclairs - from unreferenced index cards in my kitchen
1 batch basic choux pastry dough
1/2 cup butter
1 cup water
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup flour
4 oz chopped semisweet chocolate
1/2 cup heavy cream
I made the filling first, which I think makes the most sense because then you're chilling the cream while the dough is baking (not that it takes very long at all).
Whisk together the egg yolks, sugar and cornstarch until it's smooth. Warm the milk in a saucepan until it's steaming hot while you do this.
This is the slightly weird part, once the milk is steaming add half of it to the egg mixture and whisk it till smooth. Theeeeen.....
...add the milk and eggs into the rest of the hot milk....
...then heat that until the custard reaches a temp of 170 and is very thick. Now add the vanilla and chill.
Voila! Vanilla custard from scratch that you can use in any kind of pastry you'd like! It's great in eclairs of course, but also in cream puffs, cakes, plain cannolis and tarts! Now, onto the basic choux pastry dough!
First, melt the butter *in* the water...
...add salt and flour...
... and stir until you've got a (sticky) batter.
Then beat in the eggs one at a time till the batter is smooth.
Spoon the dough into a pastry bag and pipe onto parchment paper. I played around a little and made some silly squiggily ones too. Officially, the recipe says to bake them for 20 minutes at 425, then let them cool for at least 20 minutes before filling them with the custard. I found they only needed to be baked for 10 minutes - tops! So be sure to peek in at them around the 10 minute mark. I do however, totally agree that waiting at least 20 minutes for them to cool is essential.
When you pop these little treats open, they're pretty much hollow on the inside. To make more room, to fit in the most custard possible, you can pull away any dough in the way with a fork. Now fill them with the custard!!
Heat up the 1/2 cup of heavy cream till it's scalding, and then pour it over top of the chopped chocolate. After it's sat there melting for a minute, mix it up until it's smooth and use that as your glaze on top. In order to use up all of the custard and chocolate glaze, you'll have to make two batches of the dough!