A bit of a rush on here as my folks are about to arrive so I need to throw something at the oven and do it quickly. These are my chocolate orange éclairs, I know they are an instant on the lips a lifetime on the hips, but when they this good what are you going to do. As I’m rushing do excuse any typos.
It is hard to improve on a good chocolate éclair, but I may have hit on something here, I’m using a classic choux pastry filled with whipped cream flavoured with orange oil and all topped off with Terry’s Chocolate Orange. It’s orange… I’m counting it as one of my 5-a-day!
- 125 ml water
- 125 ml milk
- 125 g butter
- Pinch of salt
- 12 g of caster sugar
- 4 eggs
Start off by marking out your baking paper, with this recipe I make 12 éclairs so I draw out 6x 15cm lines spaced out over a piece of baking parchment large enough to cover my baking tray. I’m using 2 trays so that’s 6 on each.
Set aside the cream and chocolate. Set the oven to 200 centigrade (fan).
Put the water, milk, salt, sugar and butter into a saucepan and put this on a medium heat, when the butter has melted bring this to the boil, drop the heat down to medium, then put the flour in – all in one go.
You will need to work quickly here, with a wooden spoon beat the mixture until it forms a smooth paste, still on the heat continue to beat with the wooden spoon until it comes away from the sides of the pan and starts to form a ball. Take it off the heat. Do not be tempted to use a whisk, we are not atempting to add air to the mix.
Before you can add the eggs you need cool the mixture – otherwise you end up with scrambled eggs in a flour and water paste (that’s a whole different recipe!). Spread the mix out on a plate, to speed up this process, there is no need to wait until it is stone cold.
When the paste is cool enough not to scramble the eggs pop it back into the saucepan and using the wooden spoon beat the eggs into the paste one at a time. Making sure that the first egg is fully incorporated add the next one and fully beat it in.
The finished mix will just about drop off the back of the spoon, if it is too thick to pipe you could incorporate half an egg, adding a little at a time. Don’t make the mixture too wet as it will just spread out in the oven.
Put the paste into a piping bag, I put my empty piping bag into a tall glass, turning the open end over the rim of the glass. This holds the empty bag open and you can scrape the contents of the pan into the bag using both hands.
Before you pipe the mixture onto the baking parchment turn the paper over (you don’t want to be eating pen marks, do you?) then pipe along the drawn line, keeping an even pressure on the piping bag will ensure that all your éclairs are the same size.
Put both trays in the oven and immediately turn the oven down to 180 centigrade (fan), set your timer for 18 mins.
Working quickly so that the oven door is not open for too long – drop 2 ice-cubes into the tray at the bottom of the oven, not the trays that the pastries are on. This makes a little bit of steam – the theory is that without the steam the pastries will rise and become crisp immediately. The steam stops the crust forming too soon allowing maximum rise. Only 2 ice cubes as if you make too much steam you’ll have soggy pastry.
When the 18 mins is up carefully open the oven and check that the pastries are browning evenly, turning the trays will help you get a consistent colour. Cook for another 2 – 4 mins – everyone’s oven will vary.
When the pastries are a nice golden colour take them out of the oven and gently slit them open to let the steam escape – otherwise you’ll have a soggy finished product. If they are a little soft inside you can return them to the oven for 1 or 2 mins – Then lay them on wire racks to cool completely.
- 300ml tub whipping cream
- 3 tablespoons caster sugar
- Orange oil – to taste
Empty the pot of whipping cream into a bowl, add 3 tablespoons of caster sugar and using a hand held mixer whip on high speed until the cream starts to thicken. Add drops of orange oil to flavour the cream to taste.
I’m not keen on orange essence, it can be chemically. Orange oil is derived from the zest of the fruit and is available from all good baking stores. I added 9 drops of my oil – but the strength will depend on your brand – so try as you add it. The maxim ‘you can always add more’ is very true; but you need to be able to taste it. Whip the cream until it starts to firm up – do not over whip it as it will eventually take on an unpleasant texture. I like mine quite loose, its richer that way.
Pipe the cream into the cooled pasty.
Melt a whole Terry’s Chocolate Orange in the microwave, I do this on full power 20 seconds at a time, stirring well between each blast. If you are at all unsure you will be better off melting the chocolate in a bowl over simmering water – it is important that the bottom of the bowl does not come into contact with the water… just the steam.
Now the hard bit, you need to resist the temptation to scoff them until the chocolate has set. I’m writing this after my parents have left, they enjoyed them greatly. I thought they were good, but I wasn’t sure so I had to check 3 times just ot be sure… I’m stuffed.