Friday, March 28, 2014

Chocolate cherry éclairs

I've been on the hunt for the perfect éclair recipe ever since the pretty French pastries started popping up everywhere! It seems they're the next big baking trend after the macaron mayhem we're all recovering from! I got the old-school choux pastry training where we taught that the perfect puff is achieved with a 1:1:1:1 ratio of water, butter, flour and eggs. As long as they were light, it didn't matter if they were a bit wonky-looking. But just like Pierre Hermé, who created that perfect-looking macaron that we all do absolutely anything to achieve, someone somewhere created a perfect-looking éclair and now we're all doomed to do the same.

In swoops Kate to save the day! After much research and testing, I give to you.. The Secret of The Perfect Eclair! 


So flipping obvious when you think about it! You've whipped up all that gluten and to get a perfect shape, you need to rest the pastry so it rises evenly. Makes sense right?!

A modern, sleek-looking éclair deserves an updated filling, so I've plugged them with boozy whipped cream, and placed some beautiful plump amarena cherries inside (just to-die-for!). Pile the éclairs on top of each other croquembouche-style, add some chocolate shavings and a drizzle of that gorgeous cherry syrup and I challenge ANYONE to resist this as a dessert showstopper! 

Black Forest éclairs
Makes 20

350ml water
150g butter, diced
pinch of salt
200g cake flour
4 eggs, beaten

500ml cream, whipped
1 tsp cherry liqueur (optional)
1 tbsp icing sugar, sifted
1 cup preserved cherries, in syrup, drained and halved

200g dark chocolate, melted

Preheat oven to 200C.
Place the water, butter and salt in a saucepan and heat gently until melted. Then bring the mixture to the boil. As soon as the water boils, remove from the heat and add the cake flour in all at once. Beat together with a wooden spoon until the mixture comes away from the sides of the pan.
Place the mixture into a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or you can do this b hand) and beat until smooth. Allow to cool slightly then beat in the eggs gradually until the mixture is thick and smooth. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Place the pastry into a piping bag fitted with a plain 2cm nozzle and pipe 10cm long eclairs onto a lined baking tray, making sure to leave enough space between to allow for rising.
Bake for 40-45 minutes or until the pastries are golden.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.
Dip the tops in the melted chocolate and allow to set completely then cut the eclairs in half but not all the way through.
Make the filling by whisking the cream, liqueur and icing sugar together until stiff. Place in a piping bag and pipe the cream inside, arranging a few cherries inside each éclair as well.

Serve immediately.

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