Mini Chocolate Éclairs
w/ vanilla cream filling
When it comes to desserts, usually homemade ones are the best ones for family members and guests to dig into after a hearty meal. The idea of an éclair may seem old-fashioned and out dated, almost something your grandma would enjoy serving at her lady friend luncheon, but when they are made right and served freshly chilled, it can be an out of this world amazing dessert that will keep anyone (old or young) coming back for more.
My fiancé is obsessed with éclairs (Hahaha, notice the new phrase…fiancé, not boyfriend, la dee dah!). Mine are nowhere near as perfect as how the French make them since I am not French, but Italian, and I don’t nearly make them enough to perfect the choux dough technique required like the French do.
These sure are some yummy treats that include a crunchy outer shell with a hollow, pillowy soft inside. I cheat and am quite frankly too lazy to make the fancy crème pâtissière filling and opt for the American Girl filling instead that includes vanilla pudding (usually instant) and homemade whipped cream blended together and then chilled.
Even though mine are not perfect, they are still damn good, especially since I have been using the same recipe my mom has been using since I was a little kid. For some reason when a recipe seems too hard or far-fetched she and I will refer to her old-school Betty Crocker Cookbook that she was given as a kid. The recipes are dumbed down in a way that even a wannabe baker like myself can achieve a successful result that rarely comes out messed up or destroyed.
- 1 c. Water
- ½ c. Butter or Margarine
- 1 c. All-Purpose Flour
- 4 Eggs
Éclair Filling Ingredients:
- 1 package Instant Vanilla Pudding Mix
- 2 ½ c. cold milk
- ½ pint Heavy Cream
- ¼ c. Confectioners’ Sugar
- 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
Éclair Chocolate Ganache Ingredients:
- 8 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/8 teaspoon coarse salt
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Grease a cookie sheet.
- In a medium saucepan, combine 1/2 cup butter and 1 cup water. Bring to a boil, stirring until butter melts completely. Reduce heat to low, and add flour and salt. Stir vigorously until mixture leaves the sides of the pan and begins to form a stiff ball. Remove from heat. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well to incorporate completely after each addition. With a spoon or a pastry bag fitted with a large tip, pipe dough onto cookie sheet in 3-4 inch strips.
- Bake 15 minutes in the preheated oven, then reduce heat to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C) and bake 20 minutes more, until hollow sounding when lightly tapped on the bottom. Cool completely on a wire rack.
- For the filling, combine pudding mix and milk in medium bowl according to package directions. In a separate bowl, beat the heavy cream with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Beat in 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Fold whipped cream into pudding. Cut tops off of cooled pastry shells with a sharp knife. Fill shells with pudding mixture and replace tops.
- For the chocolate ganache, Coarsely chop chocolate. A serrated knife is best for the job; its sawlike teeth grab the chocolate, breaking it up. Bring cream just to a boil over medium-high heat. Pour over chocolate, and add salt. Let stand for 10 minutes (don’t stir — doing so will cool the ganache too quickly, making it grainy). Stir with a whisk until smooth and shiny to break up any pieces and emulsify cream and chocolate. Chocolate will often settle on the bottom or sides of the bowl. Scrape the dish with a rubber spatula to incorporate all of it.
Drizzle over the top of éclairs or dip the tops into the chocolate to get an even coating. Allow to rest for 30 minutes in the refrigerator before serving, chilled.