Pâte à choux (pronounced paht-ah-shoe) can be a versatile, if slightly formidable, pastry – from profiteroles and cream puffs, to crullers and now, éclairs.
The humble éclair evokes all the truant delight of childhood – sneaking a bite before dinner, or on a sunny Sunday morning following a hearty plate of sausages and eggs. A generous dash of whiskey only adds to the layers of mischief – crisp on the outside with a soft, hollow center, the éclair is the perfect vehicle for a filling that packs a punch.
For the pastry, you’ll need…
For the whiskey cream, you’ll need…
For the chocolate ganache, you’ll need…
Then you have to…
Pre-heat your oven to 375 F / 190 C.
Heat water, butter and salt over medium heat. When just boiling, remove from heat and add the flour.
Stir quickly with a wooden spoon and return to heat, stirring continuously.
The dough will start to pull away from the side of the pan; stir for two more minutes and remove.
Transfer the dough to a mixer and add the eggs, one at a time.
Mix till glossy: the dough will ribbon away from a spoon.
Transfer to a piping bag and form long, thin eclairs on a baking sheet.
Flatten the ends with a damp finger and brush gently with the egg-milk mixture.
Bake for about 25 minutes, and let the éclairs cool inside the oven. While cooling, prepare the cream.
For the cream…
Combine egg yolks and sugar, whisk till fluffy. Add flour, incorporate and set aside.
In a new saucepan, add the milk and whiskey cream. Bring to boil and remove.
While continuously whisking, add about ¼ cup of the milk-whiskey mixture to the eggs.
Return the rest of the concoction to heat, and slowly add the egg mix while stirring.
Bring to boil, and stir for 2-3 more minutes till thick.
Move to a bowl and let it set. Before serving, make the chocolate ganache that goes on top.
For the ganache…
Heat cream till simmering. Pour over chocolate and set aside for 2 minutes.
Stir till glossy. Add the whiskey, vanilla, and salt and mix well.
To serve, slice each éclair on one side, pipe in the whiskey cream, and dip in the ganache – the éclair hardens in a couple of minutes.
A traditional French dessert, this updated version of a childhood favorite is well worth the effort – desserts are, after all, supposed to be a guilty pleasure. Why not up the ante with a double helping of whiskey?
Clafoutis is a dessert that has its roots in the Limousin province of France.