Recipe by Sarah Phillips and Anita Chu © 2007 Sarah Phillips CraftyBaking.com
Eclairs and photo by Anita © Sarah Phillips
Eclairs and photo by Anita © Sarah Phillips
Guest Chef and friend, blogger Anita Chu of Dessert First, bakes Coffee-Pecan Mini Eclairs from my Choux Pastry or Pâte à Choux for Mini-Eclairs Recipe, below. When we were discussing what she should write about, I suggested she do a recipe and article about mini eclairs. I thought they would make a perfect addition to a Christmas Holiday Dessert Buffet or for serving with sparkling champagne during a New Years Eve Celebration! I knew that Anita would be able to create a special way of presenting them to CraftyBaking.com members. Her tiny bites are so special and delectable!!
I've made éclairs, one of the most elegant uses of pâte à choux. Normal éclairs will fit into your hand, but these éclairs will fit into your palm, and look adorable along side other sweets on the party table. I've filled them with one of my favorite buttercreams in a rich, dark, coffee flavor and sprinkled the top with bits of pecan for a wonderful flavor combination. This recipe is easily adaptable to the flavors of your choice: you could use a hazelnut buttercream, or a vanilla pastry cream, and even cover the tops with bits of crushed peppermint candies for holiday flair.
PASTRY RECIPE HELP
Odetteganda, Premium Member, Says: "Thanks Sarah for the recipe! I halved the recipe and made this last night and ate it this morning for breakfast. It was so delicious! I used your Bavarian Cream Recipe to fill some eclairs that I made and we had it for breakfast with coffee. It was the perfect way to start a long day at the office (ugh!)."
Eclairs are made from baked pâte à choux dough which is among the most magical of creations in pastry to me. How the simplest of baking ingredients are combined in a rather unconventional way to make a thick paste that bakes into the airiest little golden puffs always amazes me – it’s almost like bread and puff pastry combined into one. Even better is the versatility of pâte à choux: it can be piped into any number of forms, from little round balls to elaborate swans, and filled with anything from whipped cream to fruit to ice cream. Pâte à choux is also amazingly durable; the unbaked dough will keep refrigerated for about two days, while baked pieces can be frozen and defrosted, making them a perfect do-ahead item for the busy holiday season.
The most important things to remember are to get the dough to a shiny, cohesive consistency, which means that all the ingredients have been incorporated properly; and to bake the choux puffs for long enough so they are cooked through. A common mistake is take out the puffs when they have just turned golden, but if the inside is still wet and doughy, the puffs will deflate and collapse when they cool. Don’t be afraid to let the outsides turn brown - this means you’ll get a nice crispy, sturdy shell to hold your fillings.
CHOUX PASTRY OR PATE A CHOUX DOUGH FOR MINI-ECLAIRS by Sarah Phillips
1 cup all purpose flour; spoon into dry measuring cup and level to rim
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup water
3/4 cups whole or 2% milk
5 Tablespoons unsalted butter
4 large eggs
1. Combine the flour, sugar, and salt together in a bowl and set aside.
2. Place the water, milk, and butter in a large saucepan and bring just to a boil over medium heat.
3. Remove the saucepan from heat and add in the flour mixture all at once. Using a wooden spoon, stir continuously and vigorously to thoroughly incorporate the flour mixture into the liquid.
4. Return the saucepan to the stove and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes, constantly stirring the mixture. It will start to pull away from the sides of the pan and form a cohesive mass. Be sure to keep stirring it and exposing as much of it to the heat of the pan as possible to help develop the gluten.
5. Remove the saucepan from the heat and scrape the dough into the bowl of a stand mixer.
6. Beat the dough with the paddle attachment for a few minutes on low speed to cool the dough down slightly so you don’t cook the eggs when you add them.
7. Add the eggs one at a time, letting each one fully incorporate into the dough before you add the next. Watch the mixture change from a dry, mashed potato-like mass to shiny and slick. Scrape down the sides as necessary.
8. When you have added the last egg, pinch off a small bit of dough with your thumb and index finger, and pull it apart. If it stretches between your thumb and finger, it is at a good consistency. If it breaks apart right away, add another egg and beat to incorporate.
The dough can now be used or it can stored in an airtight container (let it cool down completely first) in the refrigerator for up to two days.
To make the éclairs:
1. Position an oven shelf to the middle of the oven. Heat the oven to 425 degrees F.
2. Scrape the dough into a piping bag fitted with a Wilton #12 round or star tip.
3. Line a baking pan with a sheet of parchment paper, using dabs of choux dough at each corner to glue the paper down. If you want a guide while piping your éclairs, draw lines on the underside of parchment paper before you put it down, about 3 ½ inches long, and about an inch apart.
4. Pipe out the dough into strips, trying to keep them of even thickness along the length.
5. Brush the tops lightly with a egg wash made of an egg beaten with a teaspoon of water.
Take a fork and draw the tines lightly down the length of each éclair, scoring the top. This will help the éclairs expand evenly in the over.
6. Bake the éclairs in the oven for about 10 minutes, until they have started puffing up. Rotate the pan, reduce the heat to 350 degrees, and prop the oven door open slightly with a wooden spoon. Bake for about 15 minutes more or until the éclairs have turned golden brown.
7. Let the éclairs cool completely on a wire rack. At this point you can fill them, or store them in the freezer for up to 2 weeks before using. Let them defrost completely before using.
COFFEE-ESPRESSO CUSTARD BUTTERCREAM by Anita Chu / Recipe alone
Makes about 3 cups
1/2 cup whole or 2% milk
1 tablespoon espresso extract flavoring or vanilla extract
3/4 cup sugar, divided
4 large egg yolks, room temperature
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks or 16 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into small pieces
1. Combine espresso flavoring and milk with about 1/4 cup of the sugar in a small saucepan and bring just to a simmer.
2. Combine the remaining sugar with the egg yolks in a bowl and whisk together until smooth. While still whisking, pour in about half of the hot milk mixture to temper the eggs.
3. Pour the egg mixture back in the saucepan and stir the mixture together. Add in the salt.
4. Place saucepan back on medium heat and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the mixture thickens and coats the back of the spoon. Reduce the heat to low and cook the mixture for about 4 more minutes, still stirring.
5. Strain the mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat the mixture with whisk attachment on medium speed until it has cooled to just warm.
6. Slowly add in the butter, a few pieces at a time, while the mixer is still whisking. When all the butter has been added, whisk on high for about a minute to make the buttercream as light as possible.
Custard is perishable; keep refrigerated. Keeps for a few days. Does not freeze well.
CHOCOLATE PASTRY GLAZE / Recipe alone
Makes about 1 cup
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon corn syrup
1. Chop the chocolate up into small pieces and place into a bowl.
2. Combine the cream and corn syrup together in a small saucepan and bring just to a boil on medium heat over the stove.
3. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate, and let the mixture sit for a minute or so to let the chocolate start melting.
4. Using a rubber spatula, carefully stir the mixture until the chocolate is fully melted and the mixture is smooth, trying not to incorporate too much air into it.
5. The glaze is now ready to be used. If it starts to cool and become too thick, heat it gently over a pot of simmering water until it becomes liquid again.
Assemble the éclairs:
1. Slice the éclairs in half lengthwise with a sharp knife. Carefully dip the tops into the glaze and set them on a wire rack to set.
2. Fill a piping bag fitted with a plain or star tip with the coffee buttercream. Pipe a line of buttercream down the length of the bottom halves of the éclairs.
3. Place the tops back on the éclairs, and sprinkle with bits of toasted pecans.
The éclairs are now ready to be served or they can be refrigerated for up to 4 hours.