Chocolate eclairs with vanilla bean pastry cream
Growing up we had a favorite restaurant called, “The Pink House” located in Orange County on Harbor Blvd. It was just an old pink house with some homey fill your soul entrees. I remember the portions were huge so we would often share. It wasn’t terribly expensive so for my family of 7, this was real treat! The homey entrees were our childhood heaven. But to be honest, it wasn’t the entrees we were there for. It was the foot long chocolate éclairs that kept us coming back for more! And the éclairs were out of this world!! I’m not exaggerating when I say they were a foot long! Filled with the creamiest vanilla cream filling, topped with the most rich decadent chocolate. As if that wasn’t enough, they finished it off with large dollops of fresh whipped cream and three huge Southern California strawberries. The one éclair fed our entire family, but we always bought two. One to take home to share with whomever didn’t get to come with us. They were just too special to leave anyone out. Then one day, it just closed! No warning, just closed. We were heart broken!
Since then I've made many different versions of eclairs. I’ve never been interested in recipes that include a chocolate cream filling. It’s the rich vanilla cream that is the perfect compliment to the choux and decadent chocolate. I've never tried to make one quite so large, maybe I’ll have to try it just for the reminiscence of days gone by.
And to all you French dessert lovers out there “Je t’ en Prie” (you’re welcome)
(Makes 18 to 20 éclairs)
- ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon (127 grams)
- unsalted butter
- ½ cup (120 grams) water
- ½ cup (120 grams) whole milk
- 2 teaspoons (8 grams) granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon (1.5 grams) kosher salt
- 1¼ cups (156 grams) all-purpose flour
- 5 large eggs (250 grams), room temperature
- 1 large egg white (30 grams), room temperature
- Vanilla bean creme (recipe as follows)
- Chocolate Glaze (recipe follows)
- Garnish: flaked sea salt ( if desired, I skipped this)
- Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C). Using a marker and a ruler, draw 20 (4¼-inch) lines onto 2 sheets of parchment paper. Turn parchment over, and place on 2 baking sheets.
- In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add ½ cup (120 grams) water, milk, sugar, and kosher salt; bring to a boil. Using a wooden spoon, stir in flour. Cook, stirring constantly, until a skin forms on bottom of pan, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. With mixer on low speed, beat until dough is warm to the touch, about 1 minute. Add eggs and egg white, one at a time, beating until combined.
- Transfer batter to an 18-inch piping bag fitted with 9/16-inch French star piping tip*. Starting on lines farthest from you, start by applying even pressure. Then, hold tip about ¾ inch above parchment paper, and slowly pipe out oblong shapes. Begin to lessen pressure on piping bag as you reach end of line; then, stop applying pressure, and lift up, leaving a small curl at end of éclair. Wet your finger with water, and press down tip on éclair. Repeat with remaining batter.
- Bake for 15 minutes. Rotate pans, and bake until puffed and golden brown, about 10 minutes more. Let cool completely on wire racks.
- Using a ¼-inch round piping tip*, poke 2 holes about ¾ inch from each end on bottom of each éclair. Insert a skewer into holes, and move it around to ensure cream will fill entire éclair. Fill a pastry bag fitted with same tip with vanilla bean pastry cream. Place piping tip into one hole, and apply gentle pressure to begin filling éclair. Pipe cream into second hole until éclair feels heavy. Repeat with remaining éclairs.
Holding éclair by bottom half and parallel to surface of Chocolate Glaze, dip top of éclair in glaze. Still parallel, lift éclair out of glaze. Then, slowly lift one end of éclair, letting excess chocolate run off. Repeat with remaining éclairs. Garnish with flaked salt, if desired. Serve immediately, or refrigerate until ready to serve. Best served same day.
Vanilla Bean Pastry Cream
- 1 1/4 cup whole milk 283 grams, 10 oz
- 1 Madagascar vanilla bean split and seeded
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar 100 grams, 3.5 oz
- 1/4 cup flour 31 grams, 1.125 oz
- 4 large egg yolks
- 2 teaspoons VanillaPura Madagascar/rum vanilla extract
- I usually like to make my vanilla bean pastry cream a day before, when I make the choux dough. So this way it has time to firm up in the fridge.
- Start by bringing split vanilla bean, seeds, and milk in a large pan to almost a boil over medium heat. Once you see the first bubbles emerging, turn the heat off. Set pan aside to infuse the flavor a little bit. Some people even like to cover their pan and let the mixture infuse for 20 minutes or so, which is totally something I am all for.
- Whisk egg yolks and sugar in a bowl, until pale in color.
- Add flour and whisk.
- If you have infused your milk and vanilla for a long time, you may have to re-heat it again. If the temperature is below lukewarm, just bring it to almost a boil again.
- Start by pouring about 1/4 cup of the milk mixture over eggs, while whisking.
- Add another 1/4 cup and whisk. Do this until the milk has all been incorporated. This is when I discard the vanilla bean.
- Place mixture back in the pan, over medium heat, stirring without stopping, bring to a boil.
- Lower the heat to low, don’t stop stirring as it cooks.
- You are going to cook this custard for just a couple of minutes, until it’s thick and smooth. In the beginning it will seem like it’s scrambling, but you have to keep the heat extremely low, and don’t stop stirring. Turn the oven off once mixture is smooth.
- Place mixture in a bowl and set aside.
- Let it rest on top of the counter for 5 minutes. Add vanilla. Stir until combined.
- Place plastic wrap directly on the surface of the custard so it won’t form a skin as it cools down.
- Keep it refrigerated until ready to use, and I recommend refrigerating it for at least 5 hours before using it.
Makes about 2 cups
- 8 ounces (225 grams) 60% cacao bittersweet chocolate, chopped
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (270 grams) heavy whipping cream
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon (28 grams) light corn syrup
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons (28 grams) unsalted butter, softened
- Place chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl.
- In a small saucepan, bring cream, corn syrup, and salt to a boil. Pour hot cream mixture over chocolate. Let stand for 30 seconds; slowly stir until chocolate is melted. Add butter, and gently stir to combine. Use immediately.
Kudos to bake from scratch for sharing