As a family we watch a lot of Kid’s Baking Championship. Good clean fun for the whole family. During covid shutdown we experimented with macaron and eclairs. I’ve made macaron since then but not eclairs. A new season and they always have the kids make eclairs, which, you guessed it, led to another baking day. We made the eclairs which took, you know, hours and the kids and their friends ate them in about ten minutes. Tessa remarked on how sad it is to watch hours of work disappear before your eyes and I looked at her like, hello? This is my life? Regardless, this is a fun project with delicious results. The pate a choux bakes super crisp with a completely airy center (no gummy, eggy batter to be found), and the pastry cream was good enough we ate leftovers like a little bowl of pudding. Perfect rainy day activity. It’s like crafts but you don’t have to throw it out after when your kids aren’t looking.
Makes at least 12
2 c. whole milk
6 egg yolks
2/3 c. + 1/4 c. sugar, divided
1/4 c. cornstarch
1 tbsp. cold unsalted butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. heavy whipping cream
1 c. water
8 tbsp. unsalted butter
1/2 tsp. table salt
1 1/2 tsp. sugar
1 c. all purpose flour
4 large eggs
3/4 c. heavy whipping cream
3/4 c. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips
- Heat milk over medium high heat in a medium saucepan just until it bubbles. Turn heat to low. Meanwhile, in a medium mixing bowl, whisk egg yolks and 2/3 c. sugar until pale in color and slightly thickened. Whisk in cornstarch.
- Add a bit of the hot milk to bowl with yolks while whisking. Add a bit more until you’ve added at least half the milk to the bowl. Pour egg/milk mixture into saucepan with remaining milk and increase heat to medium high. Whisk continuously until mixture thickens.
- Remove from heat and add butter and vanilla. Whisk until smooth.
- Press plastic directly to surface and chill saucepan in fridge at least one hour.
- Meanwhile, make pastry. Preheat oven to 425 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment or silpat. Place water, butter, sugar and salt in medium saucepan over high heat. When butter is melted and mixture begins to boil, remove from heat and add flour. Stir with wooden spoon until mixture comes together and no lumps remain. Return medium heat to pan and cook, stirring, about thirty seconds. Scrape mixture into bowl of standing mixer (or just into mixing bowl if using handheld mixer).
- Add eggs, beating in one at a time, until mixture is thickened but falls steadily from the paddle attachment.
- Add batter to plastic bag and snip corner or add to pastry bag. Pipe through 1 inch round tip or cut corner of plastic bag big enough to pipe 1 inch thick, 5 inch long lines (2-3 inches apart) on prepared sheet.
- Bake for 15 minutes then, without opening oven door, reduce heat to 375 and bake for another 18-22 minutes. Try not to open oven door until you’re ready to remove from oven (oven light comes in handy here). They should be deep brown.
- Remove from oven and using a toothpick or icing tip, poke holes in each end.
- To finish filling, whip 1 c. cream with 1/4 c. sugar until thickened to whipped cream consistency. Fold into chilled pastry cream.
- Add pastry cream to bag and pipe into the holes you made, filling each pastry shell completely.
- To make ganache, heat cream in microwave or in small saucepan and pour over chips. Let sit for about a minute and whisk until smooth. Dip the top of filled eclairs in ganache and let chill until ready to eat. Store any leftovers in fridge. Best consumed within a few hours of making.