Sunday, November 18, 2007
a pinch of salt
100g strong plain flour
3 free range eggs
250ml double or whipping cream
For the icing:
100g Caster sugar
50g Dark chocolate
25g unsalted butter
Switch on the oven to 200c. Dice the butter, put it into the medium saucepan with the water and salt and switch on the heat to low. Stir from time to time with the wooden spoon as the butter melts. Meanwhile sift the flour into a small bowl.
When the butter has melted, turn up the heat and bring the mixture to the boil. Switch off the heat and quickly tip the flour into the saucepan. Immediately beat the flour into the liquid with the wooden spoonto mix all the ingredients together. After a few seconds or so, you’ll find that the mixture swells into a smooth dough that comes away from the sides of the saucepan. Stop beating.
Let the mixture cool for 3 or 4 min. Crack the eggs into a measuring jug and whisk them with a fork. Pour a little of the egg into the flour mixture and beat it in well. Keep adding and beating in the egg, a little at a time, until the dough looks thick, smooth and shiny, and still holds it’s shape well. You may not need the last 2 or 3 tbsp of egg, if your eggs are large ones.
Spoon the mixture into a freezer bag (you’ll need to scrape in out of the pan with a rubber spatula). Fold down the top of the bag to squeeze the dough to the bottom. Snip off one of the bottom corners of the bagto give you a hole about 1cm long.
Line the baking sheets with parchment paper. Squeeze the mixture into Chipolata-sized sausage shapes on the parchment, allowing about 4cm space between each one. You should be able to make about 12.
Bake for 30 min, they should be puffed up, and a good golden brown all over, and feel hard when you poke one with a knife.
Immediately take each éclair off the sheets (they’ll be very hot, so wear oven gloves) and with the point of a knife gently slit the side to let out the steam. Leave them to cool and dry out on a rack.
Whip the cream in a small bowl till it’s just thick enough to hold it’s shape. Put it in the fridge while you make the chocolate icing.
For the icing, put the sugar and water in the small saucepan, place it on the hob, and turn the heat to low.
Heat gently stirring all the time with a wooden spoon to dissolve the sugar. Bring to the boil and boil fast for thee minutes. Switch off the hob and wait for a few minutes for the syrup to cool down, meanwhile, break up the chocolate, and cut the butter into chunks.
When the syrup is very warm, rather then very hot, add the chocolate and butter. Stir until both have melted, and blended to a smooth glossy sauce. Leave to cool, stirring occasionally. When the sauce starts to thicken, it’s ready to ice your éclairs.
When the buns are cool, use a tsp to fill the inside of each éclair with whipped cream (you may need to make a bigger slit). Then take a different tsp and smear the chocolate icing generously over each éclair. Leave until set.
This was from River Cottage Family Cookbook. I don’t actually have this one, I just got it from the library, but I think I might need to get my own copy I’m becoming a big fan of the River Cottage books, their meat book is one of my all time favorites.
This looks like a lot of work, but it’s not really. There are just a few things you need to know. When you are making Choux pastry, make sure you add the flour all at once. Some people recommend that you put the flour on a piece of paper, and roll the paper into a cone, that way it will definitely all go in at once. The second thing to remember, is that you need to add the eggs a little at a time. This recipe calls for you to beat the eggs first, but generally speaking, you want to only add one egg at a time (so if you’ve beaten three eggs, add them in one third at a time). You really have to make sure that you beat in each egg totally and completely before adding the next. The only other thing, is remembering to poke holes in them when they are done. The steam will make them all soggy if you forget.
That’s it. It’s not exactly as simple as boiling eggs, but at the end, you have home made éclairs. What could be better then that? Choux pastry is one of those things that seems really scary till you do it. Once you’ve done it one time, you realize how it looks so much more impressive and difficult then it really is. It’s extra useful because you can make sweet or savory dishes with it.
I messed up my chocolate sauce a little. I don’t think I let it boil long enough, and I didn’t let it cool down enough either, so it was a bit too runny. Still these were so tasty it was hard not to eat them all in one go.