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Classic Eclairs

Classic EclairsEclairs are traditional French pastries made with pâte à choux  filled with cream and dipped in chocolate glaze. These oblong-shaped treats may look complicated to prepare but they are worth the effort!  Here is an easy dessert recipe for Classic Eclairs.

Ingredients:
Pastry Cream
1/2 to 3/4 c milk (start with 1/2, gradually add more if cream is too thick)
2 egg yolks
2 Tbsp     sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp flour
1 tsp cornstarch
1 dash salt
1 tsp vanilla extract

Pâte à Choux  
1/2 c water
1/4 c butter
1/2 tsp sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 c flour
2 eggs

Chocolate Glaze
1 1/2 oz chocolate
1 tsp corn syrup
1 Tbsp     butter

Procedures:

Make the pastry cream first. In a saucepan, heat the milk until it begins to steam. While waiting for the milk to heat up, beat the yolks and the sugar until very thick and yellow. Add the flour, cornstarch and salt to the yolk mixture.

Gradually, pour the steamed milk into the egg mixture, beating continuously. Rinse out the saucepan, pour the entire mixture back into it.

Heat the mixture over medium fire, stirring constantly until it start to boil. Boil for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes to thicken. Remove from heat and add vanilla extract. Transfer pastry cream in a shallow bowl and cover with plastic wrap The wrap should touch the surface of the cream to prevent the formation of "skin." Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before using.

While waiting for the cream to chill, start preparing the pate a choux. Bring the water, butter, sugar and salt to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour to the boiling mixture all at once and stir continuously until mixture pulls away from the sides of the saucepan and forms a ball.

Transfer the dough into a clean bowl and continue beating either by hand or with an electric mixture for 5-10 minutes to cool it off. Add eggs one at a time and beat until a shiny dough forms, about 5-10 minutes.

Scoop the the dough onto a pastry bag and cut the tip with big enough hole. Pipe 2-inch long and 1/2-inch thick strips of dough onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. With damp fingers, smooth out deformities in the dough.

Bake for 10 minutes at 400 degrees, reduce heat to 350 and bake for 25 more minutes, turning halfway through so that they bake evenly. The eclairs should puff up a lot and be a nice golden color. Pierce one end of each eclair with a sharp knife, to help some of the steam escape and to serve as an entry point for the cream later. Let the pastries cool completely.

While the pastry are cooling, make the chocolate glaze. Melt the chocolate and corn syrup in a double boiler. Remove from heat and add the butter. Stir until the mixture is smooth and glossy.

Transfer the pastry cream in a pastry bag and pipe into the cooled pastries. Do not fill them with too much cream to prevent "squirting" when biting into the eclairs.

Dip the top half of the eclair in the chocolate glaze and shake it a bit while still upside down to let the extra glaze drip off. Then turn the eclairs right side up and set them on a tray or rack to set. Store leftover eclairs in the refrigerator.

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