Choux pastry is my new obsession. Partly because it’s so easy to make and bake and partly because it allows me to practice a great deal with my reusable piping bags and nozzles. Yesterday I made some salambos and my own version of éclairs (with mango), but today I will post you the recipe for a classic chocolate one which, contrary to tradition, is filled with a chocolate custard and not a plain one.
Also, a quick word of advice. Please experiment with choux pastry. There are different versions of the main recipe and they all come out slightly different, so settle down on one only once you have tried and tested it. For instance, these éclairs were made with the BBC Good Food recipe for choux pastry, but I have successfully baked my other éclairs (and the salambos) with a different recipe altogether.
Ingredients (for the pastry)
- 4 tbsp whole milk
- 50g unsalted butter, diced
- 100g plain flour
- 1 tsp caster sugar
- 3 medium eggs
- 4 tbsp water
Ingredients (for the custard filling)
- 350ml whole milk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 4 medium egg yolks
- 50g caster sugar
- 1 tbsp cornflour
- 75g dark chocolate, chopped
Ingredients (for the chocolate glaze)
- 100ml double cream
- 1 tbsp soft light brown sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 100g dark chocolate, chopped
- 25g unsalted butter, diced
- First of all, make the filling. It is a simple custard, but if you were to make the pastry before and then the filling, you would be left with pastry shells there for a while while the custard cools. Heat the milk and the vanilla until boiling point. Meanwhile, in a bowl whisk the egg yolks with the sugar and the cornflour. Add some of the milk to loosen the mixture up if it is too thick. Slowly (!!!) pour the rest of the vanilla and milk mixture over the egg yolks, stirring constantly, then once combined return the whole mixture to the pan and put on a medium heat, stirring constantly until thickened nicely. Tip into a bowl and add the chocolate. Stir well to melt all of the chocolate, then cover with clingfilm and push it down to touch the surface of the custard (this prevents a skin forming). Leave to cool.
- Now, on to the pastry. Heat the milk, butter and water in a pan set over a medium heat until the butter melts. Whack up the heat and bring to the boil, then take off the heat and quickly tip in the flour, sugar and a pinch of salt. Mix it in with a wooden spoon and have a good go at it. It will look like a hopeless disaster at first, but keep on mixing until the flour is combined with the other ingredients and it forms a ball-like shape. Briefly put back on the heat, stirring constantly, to cook the mixture. It is ready when it easily comes away from the sides of the pan.
- Transfer to a big bowl and leave to cool slightly. If you were to add the eggs now they would scramble.
- Add one egg at a time and beat well after each addition. For personal experience, I can tell you that it will look awful and that the pastry will divide itself into smallish lumps while you are trying to beat the eggs in. Don’t despair and keep on stirring with the wooden spoon because the lumps will come together to form a shiny, smooth dough.
- Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius, then line two baking trays with parchment. Transfer the choux pastry to a piping bag fitted with a 2cm plain nozzle and pipe 10cm strips, keeping them well spaced as they will increase in size while baking. Bake for 15 minutes, until well puffed and golden. Leave to cool on racks.
- For the glaze, heat the double cream, sugar and vanilla to boiling point. Put the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl and pour over the cream mixture. Stand for 2-3 mins, then add the butter and stir until smooth and glossy.
- Once everything has cooled down and is hard enough to handle, use a serrated knife to slice the buns open, then fill one half with the chocolate custard. Cover with the other one, then spread some of the chocolate ganache on top to finish. Repeat with all of the buns.