Ok, so chocolate eclairs are definitely my weakness. I'm not sure why I love them so much. Something lush about the cream, pastry and chocolate icing combined but really it's the pastry that I love. I'd even eat them without the cream, when they are just out of the oven. Simply scrumptious. I actually just saw a recipe today from Jamie Oliver that substituted rhubarb and custard for the cream. Yum. Of course, my waistline doesn't particularly like the eclairs, but I guess that's just the price we have to pay.
I generally bake too many. But you can freeze the empty cases once they are cooked for up to a month.
For the Choux Pastry you will need: 3 1/2oz plain flour, pinch of salt, 1/4 pint water, 3oz butter, 3 eggs beaten
For the Chocolate Icing you will need: 7oz icing sugar, 1 oz cocoa powder, 1-2 tbsp boiling water
For the Cream filling you will need: 2oz icing sugar sifted, 1tsp vanilla extract, 14 fl oz whipped cream
So, firstly you want to make the choux pastry, after pre-heating the over to 220 c. For this, you need to sift the flour and salt into a large bowl and set aside. Place the water and butter in a medium sized saucepan with high sides set over a medium to high heat stirring until the butter melts. Allow the mixture to come to a rolling boil then immediately remove the pan from the heat. Add the flour and salt and beat very well with a wooden spoon until the mixture comes together.
Reduce the heat to medium and replace the saucepan, stirring for one minute until the mixture starts to fur. Remove from the heat and allow to cool briefly.
Our one quarter of the egg mixture into the pan and beat into the pastry mixture very well. Add a little more egg until incorporated and then a little more again. You need to beat it vigorously all the time until there's a nice shine to it and it drops off the spoon. Be careful with this part because you might not need to add in all the egg.
Now, place this mixture in the piping bag and pipe each eclair onto a greased baking tray. It's handy at this point to use a wet knife to get the mixture off after you've piped each one. Brush them with some beaten egg and bake in the oven for about 10 minutes. Then, reduce the temperature to 200 c and cook for another 15- 20 minutes until golden brown.
Remove the eclairs from the oven, using a knife make a small slit in the side and put back into the oven. This makes sure that it doesn't go soggy in the centre and that it is cooked the whole way through. Place them on a wire rack when cooked, and cool.
Meanwhile, make up the icing. Sift icing sugar, cocoa powder into a bowl and add the boiling water. Stir. For the cream, fold in the vanilla extract and icing sugar into the whipped cream. Pipe this into the cooled eclairs and ice as desired!