I love eclairs, but they tend to be a bit pricey at my local grocer, so we only get them every so often. My father-in-law had asked me to make up a bunch of cupcakes for his work. They loved them so much...but they wanted to know if I could make eclairs. After much research, I realized that they are easier to make than I thought. Even better, I had everything I needed for them already, except the heavy cream (but then again, who keeps heavy cream in their fridge at all times?). I found a super simple recipe over at Hidden Ponies. Here is the recipe that I used, along with my own additional comments:
- CHOUX PASTRY:
- ½ cup butter
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ¼ tsp salt
- 4 large eggs
- CUSTARD FILLING:
- 1 (4 serving size) package instant vanilla pudding mix
- 2 cups milk (or as called for on pudding package)
- 1 cup heavy cream
- ¼ cup icing sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ¼ tsp salt
- CHOCOLATE ICING:
- 2 oz semisweet chocolate (or ⅓ cup semisweet chocolate chips)
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 1 cup icing sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 Tbsp hot water
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Lightly grease a large cookie sheet and set aside.
- In medium saucepan, combine ½ cup butter and water. Bring to a boil, stirring to melt butter.
- Reduce heat to low and stir in flour and salt with a wooden spoon until the mixture begins to form a stiff ball of dough.
- Remove from heat and add eggs, one at a time, stirring vigorously after each addition to ensure they are incorporated. Work quickly, especially with the first one, to prevent it from cooking into scrambled eggs on the bottom of your warm pan :)
- With a spoon or pastry bag fitted with a large tip, spread/pipe the thick dough onto prepared cookie sheet into 10 strips approximately 1½ x 4″ each. (**I piped different sizes to see which worked best....make your pastries a little bigger than the size of your thumb.)
- Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 325 and bake another 20 minutes, until puffed and golden and hollow sounding when lightly tapped on the bottom. When removed from oven, IMMEDIATELY pierce the ends almost through to the other side to let steam escape and prevent any sogginess in the middle. This hole is also where you will be piping your filling into. Let cool completely before filling and icing (this will only take about half an hour).
- For CUSTARD FILLING: combine pudding and milk in a bowl and mix according to package directions. In a separate bowl, beat the heavy cream with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Beat in ¼ cup icing sugar, 1 tsp vanilla, and ¼ tsp salt. Fold whipped cream into pudding. (**The custard was too thin, even after refrigeration, so I added a little bit more powdered sugar, and I will probably use a tad bit less cream, maybe 6oz. vs. 8oz.)
- Scoop mixture into pastry bag fitted with a smallish tip (I enlarged my steam holes a bit to make my tip fit, so do whatever works) and pipe mixture into centers of eclairs until full. This is a bit of a messy business, but worth it for ease of eating and pretty appearance. You could certainly also just slice the eclairs in half horizontally, fill the bottoms with cream, and replace the tops. Either way, you will probably have some custard leftover.
- For ICING: Melt the chocolate and 2 Tbsp butter over low heat in a saucepan (or in the microwave, stirring after 30 seconds and giving additional 10 second increments as needed until fully melted). Stir in 1 cup icing sugar and 1 tsp vanilla. Stir in hot water, 1 Tbsp at a time, until icing is smooth and reaches desired consistency. Drizzle, pipe or spread over filled eclairs.
- Store in the fridge.
*The great thing about using the pudding for this recipe is that you can change the flavor of your eclair by using a different type of pudding! I may try chocolate or banana next time.