- Serves: makes about 12 eclairs
- Cook Time: 40 minutes
- Prep Time: 40 minutes
- Effort: medium
For the choux pastry
- 125 ml water
- 50 g butter
- 60 g plain flour
- 2 eggs, beaten
For the filling
- 300 ml double cream
- 3 drops vanilla extract
- 2 tsp caster sugar
For the icing
- 50 g dark chocolate, chopped
- 1 tsp butter
- 2 tbsp water
- 85 g icing sugar
1. For the choux pastry, pour the water into a medium saucepan and add the butter. Place the pan over a medium heat, and as soon as the butter melts, turn up the heat and bring to a boil. Shoot in all the flour in one go and take the pan off the heat.
2. Stir briskly until the flour has blended in with the liquid and the mixture leaves the sides of the pan and makes a soft ball. It's best not to overbeat at this stage otherwise you'll end up with heavy pastry. Preheat the oven to 200C/gas 6.
3. Leave the mixture to cool slightly, and when it's warm to the touch, start beating in the eggs, a tablespoon at a time. Beat well between each addition - the more air you can incorporate, the lighter the pastry. It's a good idea to use an electric mixer. When you've added both eggs, the pastry should take on a glossy sheen and have a soft, almost dropping consistency.
4. Spoon the paste into a piping bag fitted with a 1cm plain nozzle and pipe finger lengths, about 5cm long onto a lightly oiled and floured baking tray. Leave about 3cm space between each eclair, as they need space to puff up in the oven. Just before baking, sprinkle over a few drops of cold water (this helps ensure a good rise in the oven).
5. Bake the eclairs for about 20 minutes before turning down the heat to 190C/gas 5 for another 10 minutes. They should be golden brown and well-risen. Remove from the oven and pierce each éclair with a trussing needle or the point of a sharp knife, so that the steam can escape without making the pastry soggy. Leave to cool on a wire rack.
6. Whip the cream with the vanilla and sugar, and spoon into a clean piping bag fitted with a plain nozzle. Widen the hole made by the trussing needle and insert the piping nozzle. Pipe the cream into the éclairs and place in the fridge to firm up while you make the icing.
7. Tip the chocolate into a heatproof bowl and add the butter and water. Place over a saucepan of simmering water and stir until melted. Add the sieved icing sugar, a little at a time. With a palette knife, smooth the icing over the top of each éclair and leave on one side until set.
8. If you don't fancy piping the choux pastry, you can spoon rough heaps onto a baking sheet instead and make profiteroles instead.
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