Chocolate éclairs

These are sheer luxury and well worth making. Serve for tea or as a dessert.

What you need:

For the choux pastry:

  • 50 gram butter (diced)
  • 150 ml water
  • 65 gram plain flour (sifted)
  • 2 eggs (beaten)

For the filling:

  • 300 ml whipping cream

For the icing:

  • 50 gram plain chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 15 gram butter
  • 75 gram icing sugar (sifted)

1: Lightly grease 2 baking trays. Pre-heat the oven to 220ºC. To make the choux pastry, put the butter and water into a small pan and place over a low heat. Allow the butter to melt and then bring slowly to the boil. Remove the pan from the heat, add the flour all at once and beat until the mixture forms a soft ball and leaves the side of the pan. Allow to cool slightly.

2: Gradually beat the eggs into the mixture, beating really well between each addition to give a smooth, shiny paste. It is easiest to use a hand-held electric mixer for this, or you can do it by hand if you are prepared to beat the mixture really hard.

3: Spoon the mixture into a large piping bag fitted with a 1cm plain nozzle. Pipe on to the greased baking trays into éclair shapes, about 13-15 cm long, leaving room for them to spread. Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 190ºC and bake for a further 20 minutes, until well risen and a deep golden brown. (It is important that the éclairs are a good golden brown all over, as any pale, undercooked parts will become soggy once they have cooled.) Remove the éclairs from the oven and split them down one side to allow the steam to escape. Leave to cool on a wire rack.

4: Whip the cream until it is just firm enough to pipe. Fill each éclair with whipped cream, using a piping bag fitted with a plain nozzle.

5: For the icing, put the chocolate into a bowl placed over a pan of hot water, making sure the water does not touch the base of the bowl. Add the butter and 2 tablespoons of water to the chocolate and place the pan over a low heat until the chocolate has melted. Remove from the heat and add the sifted icing sugar, beating well until smooth. Spoon the icing over the top of each éclair, then leave to set.

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