In order to distract myself from being distracted by another blasted Y chromosome, I filled my Sunday with outings, car cleaning and food making.
Having power walked and chugged my way through a vegan protein smoothie (don't you worry I'm not converting!) with my excellent friend Sophie this morning, I found myself home alone with only my thoughts to keep me company. I resorted to vacuuming my car for the first time ever (seriously I had a quarry's worth of stones under my floor mat) and then washing it (with dishwashing liquid - desperate times people). After I was soaked head to toe I then proceeded to marinate some chicken for dinner. Having another two hours before people arrived back home I then found myself piping out eclair batter onto a baking tray. The lengths I will go to eh. Curse them female brains.
My love of navy horizontal stripes and my new obsession with the La Cigale French markets has obviously caused my subconscious to crave choux pastry. That and I saw some pretty amazing eclairs on my IG feed lately.
The way choux pastry works is that the moisture in the batter evaporates during the baking process and forces the pastry outwards, resulting in an expanded pastry stick with a hollow centre. You need to slice these down the side with a sharp knife as soon as they come out of the oven or else the remaining steam will be trapped and cause the pastry to go soggy (not ideal).
This is one of the few recipes I use from the Edmonds Cookery Book. Make sure you use small eggs when making it though. I made a practice run the other weekend and there was too much moisture in the batter so they ended up quite flat. Use a piping bag with a 5mm round tip to pipe out the batter into mini eclairs. With a steady force you want to pipe along 7cm then pipe back on itself, remove the pressure and pull back across to stop the batter flow. You should be left with a tidy line. You can also make bigger fingers as well as circular eclairs; these will of course take slightly longer to bake (probably closer to 20 minutes).
While these should traditionally be filled with whipped cream, my love of custard overcame tradition. I made a half recipe of the custard I usually fill my custard squares with. If you are feeling lazy, just whip up some cream instead.
Custard Filled Chocolate Eclairs
Makes 14 mini eclairs
For the Choux
1/2 cup boiling water
75g plain flour
2 small eggs
2 teaspoons white sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
For the custard:
2 small eggs
65g white sugar
35g plain flour
1 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
For the chocolate icing:
30g butter, melted
1/4 good quality cocoa
1 cup icing sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
Couple of splashes of milk
Freshly picked flowers
Crumbled freeze dried raspberries
To make the eclairs
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees and line a tray with baking paper.
Melt the butter in a small saucepan, then add the water and bring to the boil. Add in your flour and stir until a ball of dough forms that comes away from the sides of the pan. Transfer you dough ball to your stand mixer (or you could do this by hand).
Mix in the sugar and vanilla then one egg at a time. Make sure the egg is fully incorporated before the next one is added. Beat until the mixture is smooth.
Transfer the mixture into a piping bag with a 5mm round tip fitted. Pipe small eclairs out by piping backwards and forth a 7cm or so line. Remove the pressure you place on the bag and make a quick jerking movement back over the line of batter to finish the eclair.
Bake for 15 minutes or until they have turned golden brown and are hollow sounding. As soon as you remove them from the oven, slice open the side to release the steam. Leave to cool fully.
To make the custard
Warm the milk over a low heat in a saucepan. Beat together the eggs, sugar and vanilla then add in the flour. Mix until all the flour has been incorporated. While still mixing, pour in the warm milk. Beat until the flour mixture has dispersed. Return the custard to the saucepan. Warm the custard over a low heat while stirring until it thickens to a pipeable consistency. Be careful not to let it boil. Leave the custard to cool in the fridge so that it further thickens.
To make the chocolate icing
Mix all the ingredients together in a small bowl. Add enough milk so that it forms a smooth, pourable consistency. You want to be able to dip the eclairs into it but not have it run all over the place.
Using a piping bag, fill the eclairs with a line of cold custard. Carefully dip each eclair into the chocolate icing, use your finger to spread it around if it needs it. Decorate with a sprinkling of crushed, freeze dried raspberries and a flower. Keep refrigerated until serving time.