Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Eclairs have always been one of my absolute favorite desserts--creamy filling, puff pastry, and chocolate icing. Does it get any better than that?
Well, to my surprise, they were easy to make and made for a fun Easter family activity. The kids loved watching them puff up in the oven, poking the wholes in the pastries, frosting the eclairs and sprinkling them with colored sprinkles. Even though there are three different steps to these dessert pastries, they were actually quite simple to make. Give them a try, your family and friends will think you slaved all day in the kitchen!
FIRST STEP: ECLAIR PASTRY SHELLS
1/2 cup butter
1 cup water
1 cup flour (I used bread flour and it worked well)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Grease a cookie sheet.
2. In a medium saucepan, combine 1/2 cup butter and 1 cup water. Bring to a boil, stirring until butter melts completely. Reduce heat to low, and add flour and salt. Stir vigorously until mixture leaves the sides of the pan and begins to form a stiff ball. Remove from heat. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well to incorporate completely after each addition. With a Ziploc gallon bag or a pastry bag fitted with a No. 10, or larger, tip, spoon or pipe dough onto cookie sheet in 1 1/2 x 4 inch strips (mine were more like 1 inch x 3 inch strips).
3. Bake 15 minutes in the preheated oven, then reduce heat to 325 degrees F and bake 20 minutes more, until hollow sounding when lightly tapped on the bottom. Cool completely on a wire rack. (I made my eclairs a little smaller, so they only needed 15 minutes at 450 and then 5-8 minutes at 325--it depends on the size of your eclair)
4. Remove pastries from pan and let cool on the counter or a wire rack. Poke a small whole in the side of the pastry to let the steam escape-this prevents them from getting soggy.
STEP TWO: THE FILLING
1 (6oz.) Instant (or Cook n' Serve) Vanilla Pudding
2 1/4 c. milk
1/2 t. vanilla
1. Combine pudding mix, vanilla, and milk in medium bowl according to package directions. Let pudding set in the fridge until firm. Fold into pudding an 8oz. container of Cool Whip (or, you can make real whipping cream and use that instead).
**I actually made my homemade Vanilla Custard and used that instead of the packaged pudding. If you want a richer eclair, use this recipe. Fold the Cool Whip into the homemade custard just as you would the instant pudding.
2. Put cooled pudding into a pastry bag or Gallon Ziploc bag that has been cut on the corner. Squeeze filling to the corner of the bag. Place the corner of the bag or the pastry bag into the whole in the side of the eclair. Press the pudding mixture into the pastry, trying to fill the entire pastry cavity. This works best with a pastry bag, but will work with the Ziploc bag as long as you push as much of the corner of the bag into the whole as possible. This part can be a little messy--have fun licking up the drippings!
3. To make frosting the eclairs easier and to help the pudding set up, freeze the eclairs for a few minutes (or hours) until ready to frost.
STEP THREE: CHOCOLATE ICING
3 T. cocoa powder
2 T. hot water
2 T. butter
1 to 1 1/2 c. powdered sugar
1 t. vanilla
1. Melt the butter and water slightly in the microwave, until soft. Add the cocoa powder and vanilla to mixture. Mix until smooth. Add the powdered sugar gradually until icing is smooth and shiny. Icing will want to be a little soft for the dipping of the eclairs.
2. Take the eclairs out of the freezer. Dip the tops of the filled eclair into the chocolate icing. Sprinkle eclairs or decorate as desired. Keep eclairs cool until ready to serve.