Eclairs

Everybody loves Eclairs, which are French pastry shells, called choux shells (pronounced choo) that are filled with cream filling and topped with chocolate.  You can buy them in the grocery store, but they aren't really very good, since most bakeries in America freeze the shells, so they have a soft texture rather than a freshly baked, crisp texture.  In France, they are always served the same day they are baked.  The French know how they should be, since they invented them! 

Even though they are not hard to make, they take some time.  You will need an adult there to help you.  Once you have made them once or twice, you will be able to make they all by yourself.  Homemade eclairs are delicious! 

My friend Madison came from Atlanta to visit, and we made eclairs.  It took us a long time to make them, but they tasted so good that it was worth it.  It was fun too.  There are three steps to making eclairs; you have to make the shells, then the filling, then the topping. Have fun!

Ingredients Needed:

Choux Shell Ingredients:

1 cup water

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter

1 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 eggs

Eclair Filling Ingredients:

2 cups milk

1 3 ounce package instant vanilla pudding

2 cups heavy whipping cream

1 can of chocolate frosting

Equipment Needed:

For the Choux Shells:

1 medium saucepan

Measuring cups and spoons

Stand mixer or hand mixer with a medium sized mixing bowl

Rubber Scraper

Decorating Bag to squeeze the dough on the pan or two teaspoons to drop the dough on the baking sheet]

Baking Sheet with parchment or sprayed with non-stick spray

 

For the Filling:

Measuring cups and spoons

Blender or a bowl with a wire whisk to mix the pudding

Rubber Scraper

Mixer with a clean bowl and beater for the whipping cream

Decorating bag with a filler tip or you can cut the shells in half and spoon the filling in

For the Frosting:

Microwave

Rubber Scraper to stir

 

How to Make Eclairs:

1.  Pour 1 cup water in a large saucepan.  Turn the heat to high and let the water boil. 2.  When the water is boiling, add the butter. 3.  Keep the heat to high, and let the mixture boil until the butter has melted.

 

4.  Meanwhile, while the water is boiling, measure the 1 cup flour.  Then measure the 1/2 teaspoon of salt and put it in the cup with the flour.

 

5.  When the butter has melted, dump the flour and salt in at one time. 6.  Stir with a heat-proof scraper or a wooden spoon until the mixture forms a ball.  Make sure you use a hot pad on the handle of the pan so you don't burn your hand.  7.  Turn the heat down to medium, and keep stirring until there is a film on the bottom of the pan.  Turn the heat off. 8.  Now dump the mixture into the mixing bowl.  Put the K-hook on the bowl.  If you are using a hand mixer, just put the regular beaters on.

 

9.  Turn the mixer to low, and let it mix the dough ball to cool it a little bit. 10.  Crack the eggs into a measuring cup.  That way, you can make sure you don't get any egg shell into the dough.  With the mixer on low, dump one egg at a time into the bowl with the dough.  When the eggs are in the measuring cup and you pour them out, they will automatically separate into single eggs.  Let the mixer mix each egg into the dough; when each egg is mixed, then you can add the next egg.

Now you can turn the oven to 400 so it will be hot when you are ready to bake the choux shells.

11.  If you are using a decorating bag, put it in a tall glass and fold the sides of the bag down so that you can scrape all of the dough into it.  (If you don't have a decorating bag, it's okay; you can just use spoons to scoop out the dough and shape it on the baking sheet.)  They are prettier when they are squeezed out of a decorating bag, but they taste just as good if you spoon them out. 12.  Scrape the dough into the bag if you are using one.  It helps if there is someone to hold the bowl while you are holding the bag. 

 

13.  Make sure you scrape all of the dough into the bag since you don't want to waste it.  You'll want to make as many eclairs as you can. 14.  Now push the dough to the bottom of the bag with both hands, then twist the top of the bag so the dough doesn't spurt out of the top. 15.  Now pipe some dough onto a parchment-lined or greased baking sheet,.  Make sure you push the dough from the top; it's neater that way.  The dough strips that you pipe should be about 3" long and they should be about 1" apart.  16.  When you have piped out the dough, dip your finger in a glass of water and smooth the ends.  This just makes the finished shells prettier.

17.  Make sure the oven is preheated to 400.  Put the tray of piped dough in the oven, close the door, and set the timer for 30 minutes. 18.  When the timer rings, make sure the shells are browned, then take them out of the oven to cool.  They should be at least as brown as in the picture.  If they aren't, they aren't done in the middle and they will collapse.  The French bake them until they are even browner than this. 19.  Put the pan of shells on the stove or on a cooling rack to cool.  They don't take very long to cool, only 15-20 minutes. 

HOW TO MAKE THE ECLAIR FILLING:

1.  Pour 2 cups milk into the blender. 2.  Now pour the instant pudding mix into the milk. 3.  Put on the lid, then turn the blender on for a minute or two.  Take off the lid and scrape down the sides, then pulse the blender until the mixture is smooth.

If you don't want to use the blender, you can just use a whisk to mix the pudding.  Make sure it is smooth.

4.  Immediately pour the pudding into a bowl, cover it with plastic wrap, and put it in the fridge to chill.

 

5.  Pour 2 cups of whipping cream into the mixer and turn it on; whip the cream until it is stiff.  Make sure you don't over do it, or it will turn to butter. 6.  Now dump the pudding into the whipped cream. 7.  Using a rubber scraper, mix the pudding and the cream. 8.  The easiest way to fill the eclairs is to slice the shells in half with a knife.  Make sure it is a bread knife - they are also called serrated knives and have little scallops on the cutting edge.
9.  Open the shell up and spoon filling into the bottom part of the shell. 10.  If you want to use a decorating bag, it is messier, but the eclairs are easier to eat.  Bakeries in Paris use a decorating bag.  Put a filler tip on the bag.  You can buy these tips at craft stores and cooking stores. 11.  Now put the bag over a tall glass.  This makes it a lot easier to pour in the filling without getting it all over.  12.  Now scrape filling into the bag.  It's easier if you don't fill the bag too full.
   
13.  Carefully press the filling down, then twist the bag.  You will want to push from the top of the bag so that the filling doesn't come out of the top. 14.  Insert the sharp tip of the filler tube into the eclair shell and squeeze filling into it.  Sometimes it's easier if one person holds the shell and the other person squeezes the filling in.  Repeat with the other shells.    

HOW TO FROST THE ECLAIRS

1.  Take the lid and the foil off of the can of frosting.  Put it in the microwave for 30 seconds.  Be careful taking it out; it will be hot.  2.  Pour the frosting into a bowl. 3.  Dip the tops of the eclairs in the warm frosting. 4.  Lift the eclair out of the frosting and let the extra frosting drip off.

It's fun to have your picture taken when you make yummy things like eclairs! 

These are soooo messy, but Madison and I don't care!

 

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