Ah the great Paris Postcard Challenge, how you mock me every time I walk past the fridge and see you sitting there, waiting, waiting for another delicious pastry to be marked off the challenge. So here we are at ‘éclair au chocolate’ and just to give it a little twist I have added, yes you guessed it, my favourite filling salted caramel to the crème patissiere. Just for fun, I have finished off with a choux swan, which is something I learned up at college.
How to make and assemble éclairs.
Make one quantity of choux pastry.
Pipe straight equal lengths of choux dough with a no.9 plain nozzle onto a tray covered with baking paper.
Tip: The choux pastry is a very stable dough so if you make a mistake while piping simply scrape the dough off the tray. Add the dough back in your mixing bowl and it can be re piped again.
Bake swan bodies with the éclairs @ 220°C for 10-15 minutes or until pastry has risen and is partially coloured. Turn oven down to 180°C and bake for a further 15-20 minutes or until pastry has completely dried. If you take them out too early they will collapse. Pastry should sound hollow when you tap it on the bottom. Place pastries on a wire rack to cool completely.
Make one quantity of crème patissiere.
Add some salted caramel to the crème patissiere, I used approx. 2 tablespoons but this is personal taste so add more or less to your suit your own taste.
Make Chocolate Ganache.
- 100gms dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
- 100ml pure cream
- 10ml honey.
In a small saucepan bring the cream and honey to the boil.
Place chopped chocolate in a separate mixing bowl. pour over boiled cream and honey.
Whisk until mixture is completely melted and is smooth and glossy.
Once éclair shells are completely cold use a small metal piping nozzle or something of similar size to poke a hole in the end of each pastry.
Tip: To ensure that the shell is entirely hollow, poke a long skewer into the hole. This will allow the crème patissiere to fill the entire shell. Trust me, there is nothing worse than biting into a beautiful looking éclair and voila no filling!
How to make and assemble swans.
Pipe the swan bodies using a no 9 star nozzle. Start piping in one place then pull the nozzle forward to form a v shape.
Pipe the neck and head of swan using a no.5 nozzle. Pipe a backward S shape and place a slivered almond into rounded head for a beak.
Bake swan bodies with the éclairs @ 220°C for 10-15 minutes or until pastry has risen and is partially coloured. Turn oven down to 180°C and bake for a further 15-20 minutes or until pastry has completely dried. If you take them out too early they will collapse. Pastry should sound hollow when you tap it on the bottom.
Tip: Bake the swan necks @ 180°C. The swan necks should be piped on a separate tray and baked separately from the larger éclairs and swan bodies otherwise they will burn. Keep a careful eye on them when they are in the oven as the almonds will burn quickly. They should only take about 10-15 minutes to bake.
Remove from oven and place pastries on cooling wires.
Cut off the top third of pastry, this will form the wings. Cut the top third in half lengthwise.
Remove any excess pastry from the inside of the bottom part of the shell. This will form the body of the swan.
Pipe crème patissiere into the body of the swan.
Tip: Don’t add caramel to this crème patissiere or it will be too soft. You need a firmer consistency to hold the wings and neck in place.
Place the neck into the wider end of the body and push it into the crème patissiere until it is in the correct position.
Place the wings into the crème patissiere until they are in the correct position.
Dust with icing sugar.