cakes,  desserts

Homemade éclairs recipe

Éclairs. My favorite dessert. I could never say no to these delicious crisp pastries filled with custard and topped with chocolate. Oh, my goodness, what a delight!
And you know what? These little sweet pastries are also incredible easy to prepare with a handful of ingredients.
For the best results you have though to follow a few rules.
The batter, the so called “Pâte à choux”, is made of flour, water (or half water and half milk), butter and eggs. Although it contains no raising agent, this “Pâte à choux” has the ability to rise almost three times its original size, creating a hard outer shell and an almost hollow interior.
To achieve this wonderful texture, here’s what you have to do:
First, you have to “dry” the batter. This means that after you incorporate the flour you have to cook the batter for about 4 minutes or until it pulls away from the sides and a white film forms on the bottom of the pan.
Next, it’s also very important to bake the pastries at high heat first, to help them puff, then reduce the heat to help them cook through and, finally, reduce the heat for the third time to allow the pastries to dry. Instead of reducing the heat for the third time you can also just leave the pastries cool inside the oven. And here’s a little trick: before reducing the heat for the third time, prick the pastries with a toothpick to allow the steam to evaporate.
As regarding the filling and the topping, is up to you. I made coffee éclair for me and my husband and vanilla éclair topped with chocolate for my kids.
You can also fill them up with chocolate or caramel custard, with yogurt cream and fruits or with whipped cream.

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Ingredients for homemade éclairs:

For the shells:
– 150 gr (1 cup and 3 tablespoons) flour
– 125 ml (1/2 cup and 1 teaspoon) milk
– 125 ml (1/2 cup and 1 teaspoon) water
– 120 gr (1 stick and 2 teaspoons) butter
– 5 medium eggs
– a pinch of salt
For the vanilla custard:
– 300 ml (1 cup 4 tablespoons and 1 teaspoon) milk
– 1 egg
– 60 gr (4 tablespoons and 1 teaspoon) sugar
– 35 gr (3 tablespoons and 1 tesapoon) flour
– a pinch of salt
– vanilla extract
For the coffee cream:
– 300 ml (1 cup 4 tablespoons and 1 teaspoon) milk
– 1 egg
– 60 gr (4 tablespoons and 1 teaspoon) sugar
– 30 gr (3 tablespoons) flour
–  3.6 gr (3 teaspoons) instant coffee (2 sachets of nescafe)
– a pinch of salt
For the chocolate topping:
– 100 gr (3.52 oz) dark chocolate
– 30 gr (2 tablespoons) butter
– 30 ml (2 tablespoons) milk
For the coffee icing:
– 105 gr (1/2 cup and 1 teaspoon) sugar
– 70 ml (4 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons) water
– 75 gr (2/3 stick) butter
– 2.8 gr (1 and 1/2 teaspoon) instant coffee (1 and 1/2 sachets of nescafe)

How to make homemade éclairs

How to make the shells
Use a medium pot to combine milk, water, butter and a pinch of salt. Place the pot over medium heat and cook until the butter is completely melted. Bring to a boil.

Remove from heat and stir in the flour.
Return to heat. Reduce the heat and continue to cook, stirring constantly, for about four minutes or until a white film forms on the bottom of the pot. This procedure is called “drying” because during the cooking process the water evaporates and this will help the pastries to puff up. So, it’s a very important step.
Remove from heat and transfer the batter to a cold metallic bowl. Mix for a few minutes to cool the batter.
Add the eggs, one by one and mix to incorporate. You must obtain a smooth and shiny batter.
Transfer the batter to a piping bag.
Pipe 10 cm (3.93 in) length and 2 cm (0.72 in) width lines onto a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Keep distance between the lines.
Place the pastries into the preheated oven and bake at 220°C (425°F) for about 15 minutes. Then reduce the heat to 170°C (338°F) and continue to bake for another 15 minutes. Remove the éclairs from the oven, prick them with a toothpick and return to the oven for another 5 minutes to allow the steam to escape.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool on wire racks.
How to make the vanilla custard:
Heat the milk. Set aside.
Place the egg, the sugar and a pinch of salt into a heat proof pan. Mix until fluffy. Add the flour, gradually, and mix to combine. Pour in the hot milk, gradually, and mix to incorporate. Place the pan over medium heat and cook, stirring constantly, until thickens. The vanilla custard is ready when it starts to make bubbles.
Remove from heat and add the vanilla extract. Cover the cream with plastic wrap and allow to cool.
How to make the coffee cream
Repeat the steps from the vanilla custard and combine the flour with coffee.
How to make the chocolate topping
Place the chocolate, the butter and the milk into a heat proof pan. Place the pan over low heat and cook until the chocolate is completely melted. Allow to cool
How to make the coffee icing
Place sugar and water into a small heatproof pan (you may use a kettle). Place the pan over medium heat and cook, stirring often, until the sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from heat, add butter and instant coffee and stir to combine. Return to heat and bring to a boil. Continue to cook, stirring often, for about 4-5 minutes or until thickens.
Remove from heat and transfer the icing to a very cold metallic pan. Mix until the color is lighter (like caramel) and the glaze is very thick.
How to assemble homemade éclairs
Cut the éclairs into halves, lengthwise and keep them in pairs. Fill one half with vanilla custard and coffee cream. Glaze the other half of each éclair with chocolate and coffee icing. The coffee icing turns solid and you should warm it a little bit to glaze the éclairs.
Place the each glazed half on top of it’s pair.
And that’s it! Now you may serve these delicious homemade éclairs!