As Mary mentions in the recipe header, chocolate éclairs are sheer luxury. Although I love them, I rarely buy any as they are dreadful for the waistline. I have never made éclairs before but I used to make the closely related profiterole. It must be over 15 years since I made those so, although I had a rough idea of what needed to be done, I was certainly a little rusty!
I was feeling even keener to pick up my Baking Bible and get baking. I'd been lucky enough to attend the Good Food Show the day before. Mary Berry was at the show giving a demonstration and signing books. The lady herself signed my very well used book! It was so lovely to meet her; she is even tinier than I had expected. After checking the front page of my book once more and seeing Mary's rather flamboyant handwriting, I entered the kitchen with a real spring in my step!
First of all, I needed to make the choux pastry. This pastry is a bit different to what I'm used to as it's made in a saucepan. I heated the butter with some water and gently brought it to the boil before taking it off the heat. The sifted flour was then tipped in. I needed to beat it all together. Very quickly the mixture combined to form a smooth and very soft dough. Even though the dough was hot, I couldn’t resist a poke; for those who might be interested, it felt much like mashed potato!! I left it to cool a little and then came back to it and beat in two eggs. I followed Mary's advice and used my electric whisk. It did take a minute or two of whisking before I had a smooth and shiny paste.
A few weeks ago I'd had a search for a plain 1cm piping nozzle. I ended up ordering one from a fantastic kitchen shop in town. I didn't bother to measure it before using it, but it did look the right size. I popped it into my piping bag and then filled the bag with the choux pastry. I piped the rather runny mixture onto several baking trays. The éclair shapes were so thin, they reminded me of pencils! I was concerned about the size but hoped they would spread when cooking. I put them into the oven and willed them to grow. They did indeed grow but not very much! I was so annoyed with myself as I should have used a bigger nozzle. The éclairs were so petite that I decided to start again, this time using my larger nozzle. The results were much more successful and I had decent sized éclairs, hooray! I split them down one side while they were still hot so that the steam could escape and then left them on a wire rack to cool completely.
I whipped up an astoundingly large amount of whipping cream; this is the point that the éclairs become unhealthy! I put the cream to one side and started on the icing. I needed less chocolate than I'd imagined. I had half a bar left over. I could either save it for another day of baking or just eat it...hmmmmm....difficult choice! I melted the chocolate with a little butter and water. The melted mixture didn't look very appealing as it had a grainy watery consistency. Thankfully, adding in the sifted icing sugar took care of the problem and it became smooth and glossy. I piped the cream into the by now cold pastry and spooned the chocolate icing over the top. They did look yummy! Neil was happy as he got to watch a Formula One race whilst sipping a cup of tea and eating éclairs. I can't believe how many I ate! My mum, who is staying, was a little more restrained and ate only two!!! The pastry was crisp and not at all soggy. The icing was rich and so chocolaty. I really was in utter bliss when taking each large bite!
I didn't want to leave my little boy out but thought the éclairs were a little rich for a 17 month old. I therefore made use of the tiny plain éclairs and gave a few to Isaac; he absolutely loved them! As they contain no sugar they made for a great treat. I may have to make him some more!
Although chocolate éclairs take a while to make I do think it's worth the effort every once in a while. They are not something I would make regularly, otherwise I'd surely become morbidly obese or die from a heart attack (probably both)!
|They weren't on the plate for long!!|