Here’s a dark twist on a classic French confection: pastry cream-filled chocolate éclairs. There’s no easier light-as-air pastry than éclair shells, and no more decadent filling than rich chocolate pastry cream. Combine the two, top the éclair with chocolate glaze, and you have a recipe for a gloriously simple yet luxurious dessert.
PREP: 20 mins | BAKE : 30 to 40 mins | TOTAL : 2 hrs 50 mins
- 1 cup (227g) water
- 8 tablespoons (113g) unsalted butter, cold
- 3/8 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/4 cups (149g)
- 4 large eggs
Chocolate pastry cream
- 1/2 cup (99g) sugar
- 5 tablespoons (35g) cornstarch
- 4 large egg yolks
- 2 cups (454g) whole milk
- 1/2 cup (43g) unsweetened cocoa, Dutch-process or natural
- 1/3 cup (57g) chopped unsweetened baking chocolate
- 1 tablespoon (14g) unsalted butter, cold
- 2/3 cup (113g) chopped semisweet chocolate
- 1 1/2 teaspoons light corn syrup
- 1/2 cup (113g) heavy cream
- Preheat the oven to 425°F. Lightly grease (or line with parchment) two baking sheets.
- To make the choux pastry (éclair shells): Combine the water, butter, and salt in a medium-sized saucepan, heat until the butter has melted, and bring to a rolling boil.
- Remove the pan from the heat, and add the flour all at once, stirring vigorously.
- Return the pan to the burner and cook over medium heat, stirring all the while, until the mixture smooths out and follows the spoon around the pan; this should take less than a minute.
- Remove the pan from the heat, and let the mixture cool for 5 to 10 minutes. It’ll still feel hot, but you should be able to hold a finger in it for a few seconds. If you have a digital thermometer, the temperature should be below 125°F.
- Transfer the mixture to a mixer, and beat in the eggs one at a time; it’ll look curdled at first, but when you add the last egg it should become smooth. Beat for at least 2 minutes after adding the last egg.
- If you have a pastry bag, pipe the batter into 5″ logs about 3/4″ in diameter. Or simply use a spoon or cookie scoop to drop small mounds of the batter in a 5″ line, gently spreading them into one solid pastry.
- Bake the pastries for 15 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 350°F and bake for an additional 25 minutes, until pastries are a medium golden brown. Don’t open the oven door while the pastries are baking.
- Remove the pastries from the oven. Make a small slit in the top of each, and return them to the oven for 5 minutes, to allow the steam to escape. Place them on a rack to cool. When they’re cool enough to handle, split each in half to make top and bottom pieces; splitting and exposing the centers to air will help keep them from becoming soggy.
To make the pastry cream:
- Combine the sugar and cornstarch in a mixing bowl. Whisk in the yolks.
- Bring the milk and cocoa just to a simmer in a saucepan set over medium heat.
- Pour a quarter of the hot milk/chocolate into the yolk mixture, whisking until incorporated. Return the mixture to the saucepan over medium heat.
- Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture becomes very thick, and just barely starts to boil. Remove the pan from the heat.
- Add the chocolate and butter, stirring until melted and smooth.
- Transfer the pastry cream to a bowl, and cover with plastic wrap. Cool to room temperature, then refrigerate for about 2 hours.
To make the glaze:
- Combine the chocolate and corn syrup in a medium bowl.
- Heat the cream to simmering, then pour over the chocolate, stirring until melted and smooth. If the glaze seems thin, let it cool and set a bit before using.
To assemble the éclairs:
- Pipe or spoon the cream into the pastries, then dip the tops of each one into the glaze. For best results, serve immediately; or refrigerate and serve within several hours.
- Store any leftover éclairs, well-wrapped, in the refrigerator for a few days. They don’t freeze well, so enjoy éclairs while they’re fresh!