Perfect Chocolate Eclairs
- For the Pâte à Choux:
- water - 1 cup
- butter - 4 oz, 1 stick
- salt - 1 teaspoon
- sugar - 2 tablespoons
- all-purpose flour - 1 1/4 cup
- eggs - 1 cup, or 3 jumbo + 1 small
- For the Diplomat Cream:
- egg yolks - 1/2 cup +2 tablespoons
- vanilla bean - 1, split lengthwise
- sugar - 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons
- Bird's custard powder or all-purpose flour - 1/2 cup + 3 tablespoons
- whole milk - 2 1/2 cups + 2 tablespoons
- unsalted butter - 1.2 oz
- silver leaf gelatin - 4/5 sheet
- heavy cream - 3/4 cup, whipped to medium peaks
- Chocolate Glaze:
- heavy cream - 1/2 cup
- high quality semi-sweet chocolate - 4 oz, finely chopped
- First we will make the pastry cream. Set up an ice bath. Place a medium bowl in the ice water and set a fine mesh strainer over the bowl.
- Put the yolks in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.
- . Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean, add them to the yolks. Mix on medium-low speed for about 30 seconds.
- Reduce the speed to low and slowly pour in the sugar.
- Increase the speed to medium and whisk until the mixture becomes lighter in color, about 1 1/2 minutes. Scrape down the bowl with a spatula.
- Increase the speed to medium-high and whisk for 3 minutes. The mixture should become pale and thick.
- Reduce the speed to low and add the custard powder or all-purpose flour, then slowly pour in the milk. Scrape the bowl again and mix on low speed for another minute
- Pour the mixture into a large saucepan, set over medium heat, and stir gently with a spatula until the mixture begins to thicken. Switch to a whisk and whisk as the cream comes to a simmer.
- Continue to whisk constantly until the cream has thickened.
- Pour the pastry cream through the strainer, pressing gently until the cream comes through, then stir in the butter. Let to cool slightly.
- Cover with plastic wrap, lightly pressing the plastic against the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before using. The custard can be made up to 24 hours in advance.
- When you pastry cream is nice and chilled, you can go to the second stage and make the Diplomat cream.
- Place the gelatin in a bowl of ice water to soften.
- Transfer 1/3 of the pastry cream to a small saucepan. Remove the gelatin from the water, squeezing out gently excess water, and add to the pan.
- Set the pan over medium heat and stir to loosen the pastry cream and dissolve the gelatin.
- Meanwhile, transfer the remaining pastry cream to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment and mix until smooth.
- Add the warm pastry cream to the same mixing bowl and mix until smooth.
- Remove the bowl from the mixer stand and fold in the whipped cream, 1/3 at a time.
- Press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until firm for 4 hours.
- When your filling is ready, you can make the Pâte à Choux.
- Preheat oven to 425 F.
- In a medium saucepan combine water, butter, salt and sugar. Place over medium heat and stir as the butter melts. Bring the mixture to a boil and remove from the heat, with a wooden spoon stir in all the flour.
- Stirring with a wooden spoon, add all the flour at once and stir hard until all the flour is incorporated, 30 to 60 seconds.
- Return to the heat and cook, stirring, 30 seconds. Scrape the mixture into a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or use a hand mixer).
- With the mixer running, add 3 jumbo eggs, 1 egg at a time.
- The dough should be thick, but fall slowly and steadily from the beaters when you lift them out of the bowl.
- If the dough is still clinging to the beaters, add the remaining 1 small egg and mix until incorporated.
- Transfer dough to a pastry bag fitted with a French star tip (Wilton 4B). Pipe fat lengths of dough (about 6-inches long) onto the lined baking sheet, leaving 2 inches of space between them. You should have 8 to 10 lengths.
- Bake 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 375 degrees and bake until puffed up and light golden brown, about 20-25 minutes more. Do not open the oven door during the baking.
- Let your eclairs cool on a wire rack.
- With a plain 1/4 tip poke 2 holes, 1 inch from the end, on the top of each eclair. Using a pastry bag fitted with the same plain tip, gently pipe the Diplomat cream into the eclairs. You may begin to see the cream trough the second hole.
- Chocolate Glaze: In a small saucepan, heat the cream over medium heat just until it boils. Immediately turn off the heat.
- Put the chocolate in a medium bowl. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and whisk until melted and smooth. Set aside and keep warm. The glaze can be made up to 48 hours in advance. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use, and rewarm in a microwave or over hot water when ready to use.
The Diplomat cream consists of 3 parts: the pastry cream, gelatin and whipped cream. We will divide the cooking process into 2 stages: 1) making the pastry cream and 2) adding gelatin and heavy cream.
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