These chocolate eclairs are made up of a flaky, crisp choux pastry filled with a luxurious real vanilla custard, then topped with a chocolate glaze. This classic dessert recipe is a wonderful dinner party dish. Choose to pipe your own choice of filling, for example a simpler whipped cream or chocolate pastry cream. This recipe can easily be modified to make delicious chocolate profiteroles too!
Ingredients for Vanilla Custard:
2 ½ cups whole milk
1 whole vanilla pod
5 Clarence Court egg yolks
2 ½ tablespoons raw cane sugar
1 ½ tablespoon cornflour
1-2 tablespoons of unsalted butter (optional for a thicker custard)
Make sure to prepare the custard filling a day before the pastry to allow it to chill in the fridge overnight.
Ingredients for Choux Pastry:
½ cup water
½ cup milk
½ cup unsalted butter, chopped into cubes
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
1 teaspoon cane sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 ⅓ cup white flour, sifted
5 Clarence Court Burford Brown eggs, 1 of these used for the egg wash
Ingredients for Chocolate Ganache:
½ cup cream
100g chocolate, broken into pieces
To make the custard, first add the milk and vanilla pod to a pan. Bring to the boil over low-medium heat. Take off the heat and remove the vanilla pod.
Next, add the egg yolks, sugar and cornflour to a large bowl. Whisk immediately and well until you have a yellowy cream consistency.
Pour the warm milk into the bowl of egg mixture, adding small amounts slowly and gradually making sure to whisk well between each addition.
Once combined, transfer the mixture into a pan and heat on low-medium heat, whisking constantly until thickened. This should take between 15-20 minutes making sure to not boil the mixture as this can ruin the custard.
If a thicker custard is required, remove from the heat and add 1-2 tablespoons of butter.
Cover the custard with clingfilm to prevent a film developing on top and allow it to chill in the fridge overnight.
Preheat the oven to 180 ºC
In a large saucepan, add the water, milk, cubes of butter, vanilla extract, sugar and salt. Place over a medium heat stirring occasionally, until the butter melts and the sugar and salt are completely dissolved.
Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat. As it boils up the sides of the pan, add the flour and take off the heat. Beat vigorously until the mixture appears smooth and thick.
Next, place the pot back on the heat and continue to beat until the mixture forms a dough that pulls cleanly away from the sides of the pan. At this point, stop beating the mixture immediately. To check if its ready place a spoon in the centre of the dough, the spoon should remain upright.
Once ready, spread the dough onto a plate and leave to cool completely. Whilst it cools, thoroughly beat the eggs.
After around 10 minutes, add the eggs to the cooled dough, beating in around one egg at a time with a wooden spoon, ensuring it is completely incorporated before adding the next. The dough will seem slimy to begin with. Repeat this process until it is smooth and glossy (you should be able to run a finger through the dough without it collapsing on itself). Put aside any remaining egg mix for a later step.
Using a piping bag, pipe your dough onto a parchment lined baking tray that’s been lightly sprayed with water.
Whilst steadily holding the piping bag at a 45-degree angle and ensuring constant pressure, pipe 10cm long logs, leaving 2 inches between them. The éclair’s ends should be slightly larger than its middle. Once piped, smooth down any peaks on the dough with a water covered finger. Brush them with the egg wash.
Bake the pastry in the oven for 20-30 minutes or until well risen, golden brown and crispy. Avoid opening the oven to check if they’re ready for at least 20 minutes to prevent the éclairs from collapsing.
Once ready, transfer the pastries to a cooling rack and allow them to fully cool before filling.
Whilst we wait for the pastry to cook and cool down, we can move on to making the chocolate ganache.
To make the ganache, heat the cream in a small pan on low-medium heat until it begins to simmer. Then remove the pan from the heat and add in the chocolate pieces. Stir well until the chocolate has melted completely, the glaze should have a smooth and glossy consistency.
Assembling the Eclairs
To assemble the éclairs, spoon the custard filling into a pastry bag with a small round tip.
Create three small holes in the bottom of each éclair shell and insert the pastry bag nozzle into these holes. Slowly pipe the custard into all of the éclair shells until full and wipe away any excess filling.
Once all the shells have been filled, carefully dip each pastry into the warm chocolate glaze. When lifting them from the bowl shake them lightly allowing any excess to drip back into the bowl. Place the éclairs on a cooling rack to set.