Éclairs are a classic French pastry made with a simple flour and egg dough called choux (pronounced "shoo"), which is filled with pastry cream and then topped with a simple chocolate glaze.
The best way to fill an éclair is with a pastry bag fitted with a special tip called a bismarck tip. It has a long, thin point that will reach the center of the éclair.
For frozen éclairs, you can just carefully cut off the tops of the pastries, spoon in vanilla or chocolate ice cream, then replace the tops and hold them in the freezer until it's time to serve them. Then, instead of the chocolate glaze, drizzle them with chocolate syrup and serve.
Note: The procedure below assumes you've finished mixing up your choux pastry dough, but you haven't baked it yet. To review, here's the recipe for choux pastry. You're also going to need a batch of pastry cream for the filling.
- 1 batch choux pastry dough
- 1 batch vanilla pastry cream
- 8 ounces dark chocolate
- ½ cup heavy cream
- ¼ cup light corn syrup
- 3 tablespoons butter
Fit your pastry bag with a ½-inch tip (1 cm) and fill it with the choux dough. It's easiest to do this if you fit the bag point-down into a quart jar, drape the cuff of the bag over the rim of the jar, and then spoon the mixture in.
Pipe 4-inch-long (10 cm) ribbons of dough onto a greased or parchment-lined baking sheet, making sure to leave about 2 inches between each one.
Transfer the sheet to the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Then lower the heat to 375°F and bake for another 25 to 30 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown with a nice crisp shell.
Now turn off the oven and let the éclair shells cool in the oven for 30 minutes with the oven door partway open.
Take the éclairs out and let them cool the rest of the way on a rack. They need to be fully cooled before you fill them.
When the shells are cool, fill a fresh pastry bag fitted with a bismarck tip with your pastry cream, and pipe each éclair full of cream. Hold the filled éclairs in the fridge while you make the chocolate glaze.
Chop the chocolate into small pieces and put it in the bowl of a double-boiler over a pot of simmering water. In a separate saucepan, gently warm the cream while you melt the chocolate in the double-boiler.
Add the butter to the cream and let it melt. Once the chocolate is soft, add the warm cream mixture to the double-boiler and stir until the chocolate has melted into the cream. Then add the corn syrup and stir until smooth. Remove from heat and pour the chocolate into a flat shallow dish, to make it easier to dip.
Carefully dip the top of each éclair into the chocolate glaze. Once the éclairs are all dipped, return them to the fridge to hold until you're ready to serve them.