Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C) and place rack in center of oven. To make all the
eclairs the same size, I use a template. Take a
piece of parchment paper and draw 12 - 3 1/2 inch (8.5 cm) lines, spacing the
lines about 2 - 3 inches (5 - 7 cm) apart. Place the template under your parchment
paper so you can use it as a guide.
In a bowl whisk the flour
with the sugar and salt. Place the butter and water in a saucepan over
medium high heat and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and, with
a wooden spoon, add the flour mixture, all at once, and stir until combined.
Return saucepan to the heat and stir constantly until the dough comes away from
the sides of the pan and forms a thick smooth ball (about 1-2 minutes). Transfer
the dough to your electric mixer (can do this by hand or with a hand mixer), and beat on low speed to release the steam from the dough
(about 1 minute). Once the dough is
lukewarm start adding the lightly beaten eggs (dough will separate and then come
together) and continue to mix until you have
a smooth thick paste (dough will fall from a spoon in a thick ribbon). Place the
dough in a pastry bag fitted with a large plain tip and pipe 12
oblongs of dough (about 3/4 inch (2 cm) wide) onto the
baking sheet (using template as a guide). (When piping have the bag at a 45
degree angle.) If desired, with a pastry brush, gently brush the
tops of the dough with the lightly beaten egg.
Bake for 15
minutes and then reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Continue
to bake for a further 25 minutes or until the
shells are a nice amber color and when split, are almost dry inside. Remove from
oven and place on a wire rack to cool.
a heatproof bowl, mix the sugar and egg yolks together. Whisk the flour
with the cornstarch and then add to the
egg mixture, mixing until you get a smooth paste.
Meanwhile, in a saucepan bring the milk just to a boil (just until milk starts to foam up.) Remove from heat and
add slowly to egg mixture, whisking constantly to prevent curdling. (If
necessary pour through a strainer.) Then pour the egg mixture into
a medium saucepan and cook over medium heat until boiling, whisking constantly. When it boils,
keep whisking constantly for another 30 - 60 seconds until the pastry cream
becomes thick. Remove from heat and
stir in vanilla extract. (For a chocolate pastry cream stir in 2 ounces (55
grams) finely chopped semi sweet chocolate. For a mocha flavor add 1 1/2
teaspoons instant coffee or espresso powder to the hot milk.) Pour the pastry
cream into a clean bowl and
immediately cover the surface with plastic wrap to prevent a crust from forming. Cool
to room temperature then refrigerate until firm (can be made up to 3 days ahead). Whisk
before using to get rid of any lumps that may have formed.
Chocolate Glaze: Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Heat the cream
just until boiling and immediately pour it over the chocolate. Gently stir until
the chocolate has melted. Stir in the vanilla extract and corn syrup.
To Assemble: Split the
pastry shells in half, lengthwise. Take the top shell and dip into
the chocolate glaze, letting the excess drip off. Place on a wire
rack to dry. Fill the bottom half (can spoon or pipe) with the
cream. Once the glaze is dry, gently place the top half of the pastry shell on the
cream. Can be covered and stored in the refrigerator for two days.