Treat of the Week: Chocolate Eclair

Last Friday was National Chocolate Éclair Day.  Clearly... I wasn't fully prepared.  The post was mostly ready, but not really.  There have been a couple of posts that I rushed right through to be able to put something out for you ( I won’t tell which ones) but I decided some time ago that I would rather delay a post than present something that’s not ‘Lola approved’.  Schedules and a lack of unsalted butter stood between me and a quality post.  And that’s when I decided…

Life is an éclair.

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It begins with an exterior made of basic ingredients.  The ingredients are secondary to the manner in which they are handled.  Even under the best conditions, the foundation of an éclair is somewhat sturdy and fragile at once.  Tell me that doesn’t sound like life!  And if you’ve managed your foundation well, there is plenty of room to fill it with good stuff.

What you choose to fill your life (ahem, éclair) is up to you, but it must be substantial or it will never work.  Thin or flimsy fillings will run right out of your foundation.  Be sure your filling is rich and significant and worthy of a spot in your pastry.  And be cautious! You can get too much of a good thing.  Your éclair can only hold so much.  The filling in your éclair is meant to be enjoyed; not make it burst at the seams.  Just as in life… all things in moderation.

Once filled, you can add a tremendous amount of flavor and flair to your éclair by way of a topping.  In our case, we chose classic chocolate glaze, but the sky is the limit.  Your éclair is limited only by your imagination.

Lastly, don’t forget to share.  That’s one of the best things about éclairs (life).  I like to take big bites of mine and get a little of each flavor for a full experience.  And just like life… I enjoy mine with coffee.

savour… metaphors

Chocolate Éclair

Before you start:

We used skim milk and low fat cream cheese.  These substitute well.

The flour will seem lumpy at first, but will smooth out very quickly.

After mixing, your dough can be refrigerated if you are not ready to bake yet. 

In lieu of a pastry bag fitted with a 1 inch diameter tip, you can use a freezer/storage bag with a 1 inch diameter hole cut on one tip.  I like to reinforce seams with duct tape.

Optional: for a lighter, airy texture on top, mist the unbaked pastries with a bit of water just before baking.

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The ingredients:

For the pastry:

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup flour
  • 4 eggs

For the filling:

  • 1 package instant vanilla pudding
  • 2 cups milk
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened

For the glaze:

  • 3 oz semi-sweet chocolate
  • 2 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 2-3 tablespoons hot water 

The method:

For the pastry:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°.
  2. In a medium saucepan bring butter, milk, sugar, and salt to a boil over medium heat. 
  3. Add all of the flour at once.  Stir until smooth and a slight indention remains when a spoon is pressed into surface.
  4. Transfer to a mixing bowl and cool, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes.
  5. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing completely after each.
  6. After last egg is added mix until smooth and shiny.  The dough should leave ‘stiff peaks’ when a spoon is pulled from it.
  7. Add dough to a pastry bag fitted with a 1 inch diameter tip.
  8. Pipe dough onto parchment lined baking sheet about 4 ½ inches long.  Be sure to bring the bag back toward the dough at the end of the line to keep the ends round.
  9. Bake for 10 minutes.  Then turn oven to 350° and bake for an additional 25-30 minutes or until the tops are golden brown and quite sturdy.
  10. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack completely before filling.

For the filling:

  1. Mix pudding mix and milk for 30 seconds on low speed. 
  2. Add cream cheese and mix on high for 3-5 minutes until thick and smooth.
  3. Press plastic wrap directly on the surface and refrigerate until ready to assemble.

For the glaze:

  1. Melt butter and chocolate in a heat proof bowl over a small simmering pot of water. 
  2. When melted add confectioners’ sugar and mix well.
  3. Add water from the pan, one tablespoon at a time, mixing after each addition until desired consistency is reached.

Assembly:

  1. Place filling in a piping bag fitted with a medium sized tip.
  2. Poke a small hole in the end of the pastry.
  3. Place the tip of the filling bag inside the hole and squeeze in just enough filling to fill pulling the bag out as the filling nears the end.
  4. Using a teaspoon, apply chocolate glaze to the top of each pastry.  Allow to set before serving.
  5. Store in refrigerator. 

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