There are two different ways to fill éclairs. You can make a small hole in the base (or at one end) of the éclair, and using a piping bag with a straight nozzle (about 5mm), squeeze the cream into the hollow. This way you don’t actually see the cream from the outside.
Alternatively, you can halve the éclairs all the way along their length – or almost all the way – and then pipe in the cream, using an interesting nozzle, which can make them look quite special. In the following recipes I have suggested one or the other technique, but it is really up to you.
You can use Chantilly cream for the filling, which is nice and light, or crème pâtissière, which is more substantial.
If you are glazing the éclairs with chocolate you don’t need a very high percentage of cocoa solids or the glaze will be quite bitter. A good 53% dark or milk chocolate is fine. Dusting half of the glaze with some cocoa powder is an easy way of making the éclairs look smart.
MAKES 24 SMALL ÉCLAIRS
1 quantity choux pastry mixture
(see page 20)
a little butter for greasing the baking tray
FOR CHOCOLATE ÉCLAIRS:
1 quantity crème Chantilly (see page 42)
400g good milk or dark chocolate
(53% cocoa solids), broken into chunks
cocoa powder, for dusting
Take each éclair, and use a skewer to make a hole large enough to insert your piping nozzle (5mm) in the centre of the underside. Fill a medium piping bag with Chantilly cream and squeeze gently until you can feel the cream filling the inside of the éclair. Put the chocolate into a heatproof bowl over a pan of barely simmering water – make sure the water comes close to the bottom of the bowl but doesn’t actually touch it. Keep the heat very low so that you don’t get steam into the bowl, as this can make the chocolate become dull-looking and stiff. Keep stirring all the time and let the chocolate melt slowly, then remove the bowl from the heat.
One by one, dip the tops of the eclairs into the chocolate. Let the excess drain off into the bowl and then place on a rack until the chocolate has set. If you want to dust half of each top with cocoa powder, use a small piece of baking paper as a guide. Lay it across the first glazed top at an angle, and dust the other half finely with cocoa powder, using a small, fine sieve.
Makes about 300g
250ml whipping or double cream
2 tablespoons caster sugar
a few drops of vanilla extract or paste
Probably the quickest, most simple and versatile cream of them all – it is nice and light for filling éclairs, or simply to serve with any tart or ice cream. You can perfume it with a few drops of rosewater or orange water instead of the vanilla extract if you prefer.
Patisserie Maison by Richard Bertinet (Ebury Press, hardback £20)
Food Photography: Jean CazalsReuse content