Choux pastries are the first classic pastry I have ever prepared. It is easy when you respect a few rules. I like to prepare the classic ones, but also to play with flavors and add textures to create unique versions.
For those ones, I had some nougats that we received as a gift, I wanted to “recycle” them and this is how those eclairs were born…
Those eclairs are made of:
- choux pastry topped with craquelin
- nougat and dried apricots slices
- pistachio crème pâtissère
- white chocolate (Opalys 33% of Valrhona) decoration
Craquelin for eclairs
Craquelin is a sort of crumble dough, that is rolled out to a thickness of 2mm (maximum) and chilled, then cut and placed on the raw choux or eclairs. As the choux pastry bakes and expands, the craquelin cracks and forms a crust on top of the pastry, which adds a sweet and crunchy layer.
- Stainless steel mixing bowl
- Wooden spoon or spatula
- 2 rectagles of parchment paper approx. 15cmx30cm each
- Rolling pin
- 20 g Butter At room temperature
- 25 g Flour Type 45
- 25 g Cassonade Unrefined cane brown sugar
- 0.5 g Fleur de sel French sea salt
- Bring the butter to room temperature.
- Add the powders and combine using a wooden spoon or spatula.
- Pour the batter on the first piece of parchment paper and cover with the other one.
- Roll out the dough to a thickness of 2mm (maximum) and place it in the freezer for 15 minutes.
Choux pastry for eclairs
I use different recipes and baking techniques for choux (the round ones) and eclairs (the long ones). Please refer to Essentials page for more details. You can prepare the eclairs in advance and store them in an airtight box in the freezer for up to one month. Whenever you need to fill them, just reheat them (without unfreezing them) at 170°C for 2/3 minutes.
- Stainless steel mixing bowl
- Stand mixer equipped with flat beater
- Wooden turner or spatula
- Baking tray lined with Silpat mat
- 140 g Eggs 2 medium eggs
- 90 g Flour
- 75 g Butter
- 190 g Full fat milk Fresh if possible
- 3 g Sugar Use precision scale
- 2.5 g Table salt Use precision scale
- Bring the eggs to room temperature. Whisk them lightly to combine the whites and the yolks.
- Preheat the oven at 240°C.
- Sieve the flour.
- Cut the butter into small cubes (maximum 2cmx2cm).
- Place the milk, the butter, the salt and the sugar in the saucepan.
- Bring to boil and as soon as it starts to boil remove from the heat (but don't switch off the stove).
- Add ALL the flour in ONE GO. Mix immediately (off the heat) using the wooden turner (or a spatula not too flexible). Ensure there are no lumps at this stage.
- Place the saucepan on the stove again (at medium heat) and mix energetically to dry the dough and evaporate the excess moist. This step should take 1 to 2 minutes (depending on the flour)*.
- The dough is ready when it forms a thin film at the bottom of your stainless steel saucepan OR small oil droplets at the bottom of your non-stick saucepan*.
- Transfer it into the bowl of the stand mixer equipped with the flat beater. Mix at low speed for 1 minute to cool it down and avoid cooking the eggs while adding them.
- Add the eggs a little at a time (4 to 5 times) and mix (at low speed) after each addition*.
- The dough is ready when it becomes smooth, glossy, lumps free, and holds its shape*.
- Transfer the dough in the piping bag with the French star tip.
- Make sure there are no air bubbles trapped in the bag before starting piping (by pushing the dough towards the tip)*.
- Pipe 10 to 12cm long eclairs on the Silpat mat* (not recommended to use parchment paper here), at an 45° angle with a constant pressure. Make sure to leave 5cm gap in between.
- Optional: place thin craquelin rectangles on top of each eclair.
- SWITCH OFF the oven and bake for 10 minutes.
- Switch on the oven at 170°C on STATIC mode (without opening the door) and continue baking for 15 minutes.
- Open slightly the door of the oven (you can place a thin spoon to block it) and continue baking for 15 minutes. You may need more time depending on the size of your eclairs, your oven and how much you opened its door.
- The eclairs are done when they have a nice dark golden color.
- Let them cool on a cooling rack.
Pistachio crème pâtissière
Crème pâtissière is a French custard, very creamy and rich. It’s thickened with egg yolks (even though some recipes use whole eggs) and corn startch. It is used to stuff eclairs or choux or mille-feuilles, or as a base for other recipes like frangipane, crème diplomâte, crème Chiboust… Unlike other custards, the crème pâtissière cannot be frozen, and it’s better to consume it within 24 hours after preparing it.
- Mixing bowl
- Cling wrap
- 400 g Full fat milk Fresh if possible
- 1/2 piece Vanilla bean Split and scraped
- 80 g Egg yolks Approx. the yolks of 4 large eggs
- 40 g White sugar
- 30 g Corn starch
- 25 g Butter
- 50 g Pistachio paste Plain one, unsweetened
- Heat the milk, just bring to simmer.
- Cover and let the vanilla infuse for 10 minutes.
- Reheat the milk (stop as soon as it starts boiling).
- Whisk energetically the sugar with the egg yolks until light and creamy.
- Add the corn starch and combine.
- Add 1/3 of the hot milk to the yolks mix and whisk until homogeneous.
- Transfer this mixture in the saucepan with the rest of the hot milk.
- Simmer over medium heat whitout stopping whisking. It should thicken after 2 to 3 minutes.
- When the temperature of the cream is around 65°C, add the butter ands whisk.
- Add the pistachio paste and combine.
- Cover with the cling wrap directly on the surface and let it cool in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
Once the eclairs properly cooled, cut them horizontally in two.
Pour the pistachio cream in a piping bag with a 10mm round nozzle.
Spread some slices of nougat and dried apricots on the bottom half of each eclair. Cover them with pistachio crème pâtissière. Place the upper half of the eclair on top.
P.S: if you don’t have nougat, you can simply replace it with roasted (NOT salted) chopped pistachios.
For the decoration, you can temper some with chocolate (Opalys 33% of Valrhona for me) and spread it on a guitar sheet to a thickness of 1mm. Cut out rectangles (or like me use a cardboard model) that cover the eclairs. Place on each eclair a drop of cream, and then the chocolate. Decorate with pistachios and apricot slices (each of them sticked with one drop of white chocolate).