Monday, December 9, 2013

National Pastry Day: Pâtisserie & Chocolate Eclairs

December 9 is National Pastry Day. I know that pastries covers a huge range of baked cooks that include flour, butter, sugar, eggs and milk, but I thought today I'd mention the pâtisserie.  I can rarely pass a pâtisserie here and in France without going in and sampling the pastries. But the term pâtisserie has a very specific meaning in France and Belgium. It refers to a French or Belgian bakery that specializes in pastries and sweets. In those countries it is a legally controlled titles that can only be used by bakeries that employ a licensed master pastry chef.

I am not a maître pâtissier, and I imagine you're not either, but for National Pastry Day, I thought I'd post my go-to pastry recipe for Mini-Chocolate Eclairs.

My favorite eclairs are not the long thin "traditional" hotdog shaped eclairs (although I like those, too), but rather, the mini-eclairs. Pâte à choux.. little puff pastry.. that I've been making for years are simple to make and easy to fill. Well, I checked my blog, and I've already posted about these eclairs, but they're worthy of a repost. They're soooo easy and yet look so beautiful and taste fabulous! Hope you enjoy making these as much as I do!

I've adapted this recipe for Mini Chocolate Eclairs from Paula Deen. It is one of my favorites because it's easy and fabulous! I never use margarine, so I've dropped that alternative from the recipe. Real butter is always best. As always, I use the very best dark chocolate for the topping. I've changed a few measurements and directions in the recipe for the novice Eclair Chef. If you're a purist, just click on Paula Deen's recipe above.

Because these eclairs are so small, feel free to have 3 or 4. :-) Yield depends on how small you make them, but I can get about 40 small eclairs from this recipe. They're great for a crowd!

Want to make these even more chocolate? Add a handful of chocolate chips or chocolate chunks to the egg cream filling or fill with chocolate cream instead: just add 1/4 dark cocoa to the dry ingredients. To fill the eclairs, I use a pastry bag, but if you don't have one, you can always fill a Ziploc bag and cut the tip off to pipe the filling into the eclair.

You will probably have some extra icing. Half the recipe if you ice sparingly. I'm all about chocolate, so there's never much left.


1 cup water
8 tbsp butter
1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
3 eggs

3 cups whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 eggs, beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla

3 ounces unsweetened dark chocolate
2 cups sugar
1 cup heavy whipping cream

1. Preheat oven to 400F.
2. Heat water and butter to boiling point. Add flour and stir constantly until mixture is smooth and forms a ball when tested in cold water. Remove from heat and let cool. Beat in 3 eggs, one at a time. Drop dough from teaspoon, elongate slightly to form small eclairs (or drop in 'puffs'), onto greased cookie sheet. Bake for approximately 30-35 minutes or until light brown. Set aside to cool.
3. Prepare filling by mixing all dry ingredients. Very slowly add milk over low heat and cook until mixture thickens (don't let heat get too high), so you don't have any lumps. Then pour this custard  into the beaten eggs, stirring quickly (so eggs don't cook). Cool and add vanilla.
4. With a serrated knife, slice pastry puffs lengthwise (or if you have puffs make a hole), but not all the way through. Pipe custard mixture into the center.
5. Melt chocolate for icing, add sugar and cream. Cook over medium heat until soft ball stage. Let cool and beat until smooth. Ice tops of eclairs.

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