You might be surprised to learn that chocolate éclairs are not difficult to make at home. In fact, choux pastry is easier to prepare than just about any other kind of pastry, especially if you have an electric mixer. I made the éclairs pictured here last Saturday for my son’s 17th birthday party and they were, as always, a hit.
The word ‘éclair’ means ‘flash of lightning’ in French and apparently refers to the speed with which they are usually eaten. But I also think the slash of cream in the side looks like a flash of lightning against the dark chocolate icing.
While éclairs are traditionally iced with fondant icing, I prefer plain dark chocolate as it balances the richness and sweetness of the pastry and cream.
- 120g butter
- 1½ cups water
- 1 cup flour
- 4 eggs, beaten
- 600ml whipping cream
- 2 tablespoons icing sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 200g 70% cocoa dark chocolate
- Preheat oven to hot (201 degrees C/200 degrees fan-forced).
- Grease two large baking trays.
- Put butter and water in a medium saucepan.
- Stir over medium heat until butter melts and mixture comes to the boil.
- Remove from heat immediately and beat in the flour using a wooden spoon.
- Return saucepan to heat and beat with wooden spoon until the mixture comes together and leaves the side of the pan.
- Remove from heat and place dough in the bowl of an electric mixer.
- Start mixer on a medium speed and begin to slowly drizzle in the beaten eggs. Keep beating until all four eggs are mixed in and the mixture is smooth, thick and glossy. This may take a few minutes.
- Spoon mixture into a piping bag fitted with a 1cm round nozzle. Pipe 10cm fingers onto the baking trays, allowing room for spreading. This quantity should make around 20 fingers of choux dough.
- Put into oven and bake for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to moderate (180C/170 fan-forced), and continue cooking for a further 15-20 minutes.
- Remove from oven and prick each eclair with a skewer to allow steam to escape, thus preventing them from becoming soggy. Cool eclairs on wire racks.
- Break up chocolate into pieces and melt in a small bowl in the microwave in 15 second bursts, stirring between each burst.
- Cut each cooled eclair in half and spread the top half with melted chocolate, before putting in the fridge to set.
- Meanwhile, whip cream with vanilla and icing sugar until the cream is stiff. Spoon or pipe cream into the bottom half of each eclair and top with a chocolate lid. I piped mine with a star-shaped nozzle.