This post is dedicated to the simple things in life. The ones which we should enjoy so much more.
I don’t want to get preachy or all mindfulness. This is after all just a food blog, and my aim is for it to be just like food: a haven of joy and comfort.
However lately I feel like I am always in the pursuit of something. And the constant worry to not have enough, to not be enough, to the things that might happen, the hardship present or ahead. And it feels like I barely stop and smell the roses and the good times.
Like that lazy Sunday afternoon on the sofa watching tv, that quiet and solitary train ride listening to music and watching landscapes roll by. That day spent with friends laughing solving board game riddles.
I recently thought about this drawing in a Luxury special in Time Magazine that I really like and inspires me to:
Take a deep breath.
With an éclair.
May this recipe bring you some peace and comfort. And above all the enjoyment of the simple yet divine things of life. Because an éclair is just that: simple yet divine.
Ok. So you might wonder how simple it is to make an éclair. That is not the point.
Let’s be honest, you have three components to make and then assemble. This is far from simple.
On top of that two of the components can be tricky to make (the choux pastry and the chocolate glacing). But life is a journey, and if you are like a me, you love a challenge and finding ways to improve, learn and almost reach perfection.
Plus baking is soothing, comforting and a total time sink where all your troubles are baked away and you are just living in the now, creating that delightful thing called an éclair.
I would like to add that this recipe is not perfect. But as good I can get it for the moment. We have done it 4 times so far… We are finally happy with the chocolate glazing, which was a challenge before. The choux pastry piping is still sloppy and the choux could be crisper. The crème patisserie though is perfect.
Have your own go!
First of all, start with the crème patissière (the easy one)
- 50cl of whole milk
- 6 egg yolks
- 100gr of sugar
- 50 gr. of flour
- 1 vanilla pod
- Pour the milk in a large thick bottomed saucepan with the vanilla pod, sliced in two and seeds crapped out. Whisk and set aside for 30 minutes to infuse.
- Add the eggs and sugar in a bowl and whisk until creamy.
- Add the flour and mix some more.
- Heat up the infused milk until boiling.
- Slowly add the milk to the egg mixture will continuing to whisk. (use a stand mixer if possible)
- Once all is well incorporated transfer back to the saucepan over a medium heat.
- Continue to slowly stir the mixture over a medium heat and once it starts bubbling count down two minutes.
- When the crème pat is nice and thick and challenging to stir around, take it off the heat.
- Transfer to a clean bowl, cover with cling film and let it cool in the fridge.
The choux-pastry (this is tricky).
- 4 eggs
- 24cl of water
- 100gr.of butter
- 1/2 tsp of salt
- 150gr.of flour
- Prepare a piping bag with a large round nozzle. I usually set mine in a jug so I can easily spoon the mixture in. Line a large oven tray with baking paper.
- Heat the oven on 160̊C
- Melt the butter, salt and water in a large saucepan until boiling.
- Add the flour and take off from the heat.
- With a wooden spoon stir until it comes together as a large doughy lump.
- Put it back on the heat again just for 1 minute while stirring it around as to dry it a little.
- Take it off the heat and add the eggs one by one while whisking until well incorporated. If you have a stand mixer use the whisk, this will add extra air into the pastry dough.
- Transfer to a piping bag and pipe into 20 cm long and 2 cm large cylinders.
- Prick those cylinders with a wet spoon. (so the steam can escape while cooking)
- Bake in the oven for 30 minutes at least or until golden brown. (resist opening the oven door until you get them out)
- Once out quickly puncture each bottom of the choux with a knife and leave to cool upside down on a cooling rack. This way the trapped steam can escape and leave the choux more crispy.
- If after cooling you feel that your choux has lost some of their crispiness, return to a 200̊C heated oven for 5 minutes.
- Once you are ready for assembly, slice open on one side with a bread knife.
The glazing (be patient).
- 100gr. black chocolate
- 80gr. of icing sugar
- 40gr. of butter
- 3 tbsps. of water
- But the chocolate to melt in a bain-marie. Do not stir the chocolate until all is melted.
- Add the icing sugar on top of the chocolate followed by the butter. Wait until the butter has melted to start stirring.
- When you stir you will see that the chocolate mixture will get tough and grainy. Keep the bowl in the bain-marie and add a 1 tablespoon of water at the time (max 3 tablespoon,
- The mixture should be smooth and shiny, the sugar should have dissolved entirely. Set aside to cool
The assembly, finally.
Once the glaze has cooled a bit but is still runny enough to spread start assembling your eclairs.
- Transfer the cooled crème pat to a piping bag and pipe each choux generously
- Spoon the glazing gently on top of the filled choux.
- Transfer to the fridge to cool until the glazing has set.