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Éclairs with Honey-Espresso Pastry Cream

Homemade Éclairs: A French Classic in your kitchen!

Éclairs are one of my absolute favorite desserts! In fact, a chocolate éclair from Ladurée is what really sparked my interest in baking French pastry. In this recipe, the éclairs are filled with a honey-espresso pastry cream and dipped in a thick and shiny dark chocolate-espresso glaze.

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Mastering Pâte à Choux: The foundation of éclairs

Pâte à choux, or choux pastry, can be difficult to master. If the pastry isn’t prepared very precisely, it will deflate the moment it leaves the oven. In this recipe, there are several techniques used to prevent the dough from collapsing:

“Drying out” the pastry on the stovetop

Removing as much moisture as possible is essential to achieve and maintain the perfect rise; even a miniscule amount will weaken the walls and cause collapse. After flour has been added to the dough, it is cooked on the stovetop on medium-low for 7-10 minutes to remove excess moisture.

Avoid adding too much egg

After the pastry has been dried on the stovetop, beaten eggs are added gradually to form a perfect, ribbony consistency. The amount of egg needed for choux pastry will vary each time, so the consistency should be tested frequently to avoid adding too much.

The perfect consistency of choux pastry is firm but still ribbony. When the pastry dough is dripped off of a wooden spoon, a portion (but not all) should glide off like a cascading ribbon. The dough remaining on the spoon should form a “V” shape. It is important for the pastry dough to show some resistance when performing the drip test but should not be too runny or too firm.

Starting at a high temperature and releasing steam from the oven

Inevitably, some moisture will remain on your perfectly piped éclairs once placed in the oven. Briefly opening and closing the oven door every 5 minutes during baking will help release steam from the oven. Since this also allows heat to escape, the éclairs are baked at a higher temperature for the first 5 minutes, then reduced to 375°F for the remaining time. Setting a higher temperature to start will also provide the éclairs with a sturdy structure without overbaking them. The result will be a beautiful risen choux pastry that is perfectly hollow inside.


Honey-Espresso Crème Pâtissière

Crème Pâtissière (pastry cream), an egg-based custard, is the most common filling for éclairs. In this recipe, the pastry cream is subtly flavored with espresso and honey.

To make pastry cream, first whisk together egg yolks, flour and corn flour. These three ingredients are responsible for thickening the pastry cream. Hot milk and butter are brought to a light boil, then a small portion is gradually whisked into egg yolk mixture to temper the eggs. The egg mixture is gradually added into the remaining hot milk mixture and is whisked constantly over low heat until the cream has sufficiently thickened.


Chocolate-Espresso Glaze

In this recipe, glucose syrup is added to sweeten, thicken, and create a beautiful shine to the chocolate-espresso glaze. It is my go-to ingredient when looking for that perfect glaze consistency! Glucose syrup can be difficult to find in stores but can be easily purchased on Amazon.


Preventing cracks in homemade éclairs

I recommend using an extra-large French star piping tip when making éclairs. For best results, use a tip with the most teeth possible to enable crack-free expansion of the dough. I like to think of it as creating as many “pleats” as you can. The more there are, the more easily the dough can expand in the oven! For this recipe, I use an extra-large French star-tip piping nozzle with matching coupler and extra-large disposable piping bags.


A few ingredient notes:

  • Corn flour – Corn flour can be difficult to find in a grocery store but can easily be ordered from Amazon. Do not substitute corn meal or masa harina corn flour, they are not the same!
  • Glucose syrup – In the chocolate-espresso glaze, glucose syrup is used as a thick and glossy sugar substitute.

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Éclairs with Honey-Espresso Pastry Cream


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  • Author: Amy @ The Pastry Blog
  • Total Time: 3 hours
  • Yield: 1215 Éclairs 1x

Description

I recommend making the pastry cream first (to allow it to cool), followed by the pâte à choux and finally the chocolate glaze.


Ingredients

Units Scale

For the Honey-Espresso Pastry Cream:

  • 2 tbsp honey (42 g)
  • 432 ml whole milk
  • 1 1/2 tsp ristretto or espresso
  • 3/4 tsp espresso powder
  • 30 g unsalted butter
  • 4 large egg yolks (65 g)
  • 120 g granulated sugar
  • 18 g all-purpose flour
  • 37 g corn flour

For the Pâte à Choux:

  • 240 ml whole milk
  • 150 g unsalted butter
  • 4 tsp granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 310 g unbleached, all-purpose flour
  • 8 large eggs (400 g)

For the Chocolate-Espresso Glaze:

  • 150 g dark chocolate, finely chopped
  • 30 ml ristretto or espresso
  • 1 tsp espresso powder
  • 80 g glucose syrup
  • 120 ml heavy cream

For assembly:


Instructions

For the Honey-Espresso Pastry Cream:

  1. Place the honey into a medium bowl and set aside.
  2. In a medium saucepan, heat milk, ristretto, espresso powder and butter and bring to a boil
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar. Add the flour and corn flour and continue to whisk
  4. Gradually add a third of the hot milk mixture to the egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly to temper the eggs.
  5. Add the egg yolk mixture into the saucepan and return to the stovetop. Continue to whisk over low heat.
  6. Pour the hot pastry cream into the bowl with the honey and stir to combine.
  7. Set the pastry cream aside to cool at room temperature for about 15 minutes, then continue to chill in the refrigerator until use.

For the Pâte à Choux:

  1. Prepare a large piping bag fitted with a large French star nozzle with as many teeth as possible. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. In a medium saucepan, bring the milk, butter, sugar and salt to a full simmer.
  3. Remove the pan from the heat and tip in all of the flour. Stir to fully combine.
  4. Return the pan to the stovetop on medium heat, moving the dough along the sides of the hot pan constantly with a wooden spoon. Heating the dough at this stage is very important as it “dries out” the pastry.
  5. Heat the pastry for approximately 5 minutes, or until the dough looks fairly dry. It may still look a bit oily on the surface but should be expelling minimal moisture.
  6. Remove the pastry from the heat and transfer into a large bowl. Let cool for 10 minutes.
  7. In the meantime, beat the eggs with a fork in a separate bowl until fully mixed.
  8. Once the pastry has cooled slightly, very gradually add the beaten eggs into the bowl of pastry dough, scraping the sides with a rubber spatula and stirring with the wooden spoon to absorb all of the egg into the dough before adding more. Adding the egg gradually is very important; adding too much of the egg is the most common mistake when making choux pastry and will result in runny dough that will not bake and set properly. The amount of egg needed for choux pastry will vary each time you make it!
  9. The perfect consistency of choux pastry is firm but still ribbony. When the pastry dough is dripped off of a wooden spoon, a portion (but not all) should glide off of the spoon like a cascading ribbon. The dough remaining on the spoon should form a “V” shape. It is important for the pastry dough to show some resistance when performing the drip test but should not be too runny or too firm. Once about three-quarters of the egg has been added, begin adding it in smaller increments and test the dough for that perfect consistency each time after mixing, before adding more egg. One way to know if you are getting close to the proper consistency is to be mindful of the stickiness of the dough after incorporating the egg each time. When the pastry becomes less sticky and easier to stir, you know you are getting close! Achieving and identifying the perfect choux pastry consistency will take time and practice but is easy to master if you follow the steps carefully.
  10. Once you have achieved the perfect choux consistency, pour the pastry into the prepared piping bag.
  11. Evenly pipe the choux pastry into 4-inch-long strips, being careful to put even pressure as you squeeze the piping bag. Dip your finger in water and gently smooth the end of the dough with your finger to round off each éclair after piping.
  12. Bake at 400°F for 5 minutes, then lower the heat to 375°F and set the timer for 25 minutes. Quickly open and close the oven every 5 minutes while baking to release the steam.
  13. When the timer has run out, turn off the oven, prop the door open, and let the éclairs rest for an additional 5 minutes before removing from the oven. This will help prevent the dough from collapsing!
  14. One removed from the oven, place the baking sheet on a wire rack and let cool completely.

For the Chocolate-Espresso Glaze:

  1. Chop the chocolate and place in a medium bowl. Set aside.
  2. Heat the ristretto, espresso powder, glucose syrup and heavy cream in a saucepan just until it begins to simmer.
  3. Pour over the chopped chocolate and stir to combine.

To assemble: 

  1. Prepare a large piping bag fitted with a large, plain nozzle. Pour the chilled pastry cream into the piping bag.
  2. Holding the éclair upside down in the palm of your hand, gently puncture the base with the nozzle tip and lightly squeeze the piping bag to fill each éclair. Depending on the length, you may need to puncture 2-3 separate holes in the base to fill them. Try not to overfill and pay close attention to the weight and fullness as you hold each éclair.
  3. Dip the topside of each éclair in the chocolate glaze and sprinkle with edible glitter (optional).
  4. These éclairs are best served fresh but can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2-3 days. 
  • Prep Time: 2 hours
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes

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