An éclair is a finger-shaped French pastry made with choux paste (or pâte à choux), which is the same paste that is used for other French pastries such as profiterole (cream puffs), gougère, religieuse, croquembouche, Paris–Brest and St. Honoré. The flour is cooked with milk, water, sugar, salt and butter first to form a dough. Eggs are then added to the slightly warm dough to form the choux paste, which is then piped into different shapes. When baked properly, the eclair shell is thin and crispy with a golden brown color and hollow center. Once cooled, it is filled with pastry cream or whipped cream of various flavors and then glazed with chocolate ganache or poured fondant.
法式甜點éclair是長條形狀泡芙，由泡芙麵糊(choux paste 或 pâte à choux)製成。泡芙麵糊亦可製作忌廉泡芙 (profiterole 或cream puffs)、鹹泡芙 (gougere)、修女泡芙 (religieuse)、焦糖泡芙塔 (croquembouche)、巴黎車輪泡芙 (Paris–Brest)及聖安諾泡芙 (St. Honoré)等法式甜點，麵粉首先與牛奶、水、糖、鹽及牛油煮成糰，稍放涼後再拌入蛋液成為泡芙麵糊，再擠成不同做型。焗好的長形泡芙外殼薄而脆，表面呈金黃色而內部中空，填入不同口味的卡士達醬或忌廉後，表面再以朱古力醬或糖霜裝飾。
The French word “éclair” translates into “lighting” in English. It is believed that it receives its name because either (a), it sparkles and shines when coated with glaze, or (b), it is too delicious that it is devoured at the speed of lightning. Today I’m sharing with you how I made mine. Eclairs are typically 5 inches in length. I’ve turned mine into mini ones (about 3.5 inches long) so my kids can consume them more easily.
Mini Chocolate Éclairs
Makes 16 to 18 mini eclairs
For the Pâte à Choux
75 g all purpose flour
60 g water
60 g milk
1/2 tsp granulated sugar
1/2 tsp salt
50 g unsalted butter, cubed
2 large eggs, slightly beaten, plus 1 egg white if needed
For the Pastry Cream
80 g whipping cream
80 g milk
25 g granulated sugar
10 g cornstarch
1/16 tsp salt
2 large egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
10 g unsalted butter, softened
For the Chocolate Glaze
60 g premium dark chocolate, chopped
40 g whipping cream
6 g unsalted butter, softened
Notes: The eggs I use each has a net weight of 50 – 55 g.
無鹽牛油 (切丁) 50克
無鹽牛油 (室溫放軟) 10克
無鹽牛油 (室溫放軟) 6克
For the Pâte à Choux 泡芙麵糊
Preheat oven to 375ºF/190ºC. Line baking tray with parchment paper or silicon mat. Fit piping bag with a medium open star tip (I used a French star tip). A star tip is recommended as its teeth will create ridges in the shells, which helps them expand in the oven without cracking. Set aside
Combine water, milk, sugar, butter and salt in a saucepan. Set over low heat until the butter has melted then turn heat up and bring mixture to a rolling boil. Remove from heat.
Add the flour all at once and stir vigorously with a spatula until you get a smooth and thick paste that comes away from the sides of the pan. Return pan to medium-low heat to dry out the paste and gelatinize the starches in the flour. Keep stirring, without scraping the bottom, until a thin film forms on the bottom of pan.
Transfer the paste to a mixing bowl and cool slightly. With a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add in half of the eggs and beat with medium speed until incorporated. Add the remaining eggs in three to four increments, beating well after each addition. Stop adding eggs when the paste is smooth, shiny and falls off your spatula in a V shape. Not all the eggs may be required so use your judgment. If the paste still looks dry after adding all the eggs then add the egg white a teaspoon a time until the right consistency is reached.
Here’s a test I learned from Gesine Bullock-Prado. Place some choux paste on a plate. Dip a wet finger into the paste then drag it through. If you see a peak from both your finger and the paste and the trough doesn’t collapse into itself, your choux paste is properly hydrated and is ready to be shaped.
Transfer the choux paste to the prepared piping bag. Pipe strips about 3.5 inches long about 1 inch apart onto the prepared baking tray.
Bake for 10 minutes until puffed up then lower the oven temperature to 350ºF/180ºC . Continue to bake for 20 to 25 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven then poke two holes on both sides of the shell for the steam to escape. Return them to oven with oven door ajar to cool. It is crucial to thoroughly bake the shells or they will collapse when cooled.
If you break open a shell you will see the hollow interior. Before filling, poke in a wooden skewer from each side, wiggle it to loosen up the membrane to maximize the cavity.
For the Pastry Cream 卡士達醬
In a mixing bowl, combine egg yolks, sugar, salt, cornstarch and vanilla paste and whisk until pale, thickened, and expanded in volume. Set aside.
Heat milk and whipping cream in a saucepan set over low heat (or in the microwave) until it starts to bubble around the edges. Remove from heat. Slowly pour it into the egg yolk mixture and keep whisking so as not to scramble the egg yolks.
Strain mixture to get rid of any lumps then pour back to the pan. Return to low heat with constant stirring until it thickens up. Remove from heat then stir in the butter until combined.
Spoon cream into a bowl. Cover bowl with plastic wrap pressed onto the cream to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours or until cool. Re-whip until smooth before using.
For the Chocolate Glaze 朱古力醬
Heat cream in a saucepan over low heat or in the microwave until it bubbles around the edges. Pour hot cream over the chopped chocolate and let sit for 2 minutes. Mix until the chocolate has melted. Stir in softened butter until well incorporated. Transfer glaze to a shallow dish.
To Assemble 組合
Transfer pastry cream into a piping bag fitted with a Bismarck tip (I used Wilton’s #230 tip). With a chopstick, poke two holes along the bottom of each eclair shell. Insert the tip into each hole and fill with cream. Stop squeezing when it begins to come out from the hole. Dip the top of each filled eclair into the glaze then decorate with sprinkles. Allow to set before serving.
將卡士達醬倒入己備長花嘴(EC用 Wilton #230花嘴)的唧袋中，用筷子在泡芙底部戳兩個洞後往洞中注入餡料，當餡料開始從洞邊溢出便可停止，為泡芙頂部沾上朱古力醬，洒上彩珠裝飾，待凝固後可食用。
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