The French word éclair means “flash of lightning” and these ever popular pastries consisting of cream-felled choux pastry with a rich topping were so called because they disappeared down people’s throats as quick as lightning – and who can blame them. These deliciously moreish chocolate orange éclairs are likely to go even faster. They are well worth the effort.Print this Recipe
- 20¾ fluid ounces / 590ml whole milk
- 3½ ounces / 100g caster sugar
- 1 whole egg + 3 egg yolks
- ½ teaspoon of orange essence
- zest of half an orange
- 1¾ ounces / 50g corn flour
- 5 ounces / 140g plain flour
- pinch caster sugar
- pinch of salt
- 4¼ fluid ounces / 125ml whole milk
- 4¼ fluid ounces / 125ml water
- 3½ ounces / 100g unsalted butter
- 4 large eggs
- 1 Terry’s Dark Chocolate Orange
Preheat the oven to 220°C (200°C fan) / 428°F (392°F fan).
Prepare two baking sheets by lining each with greaseproof paper. Make a template for your éclairs by drawing 4 parallel sets of 3 lines of about 3.5 inches / 9cm each, making sure there’s plenty of space either side for the pastry to expand (see picture). Flip your greaseproof paper over so you can still see the lines (but the pen/pencil doesn’t stain your pastry).
Put 500ml of the milk into a sauce pan and bring to a simmer (but not boiling).
Meanwhile, mix the sugar, egg, yolks, orange essence and zest in a heatproof bowl and slowly add the hot milk, whisking continuously.
Return the mix to the saucepan. Combine the corn flour with the remaining 90ml of milk in a small bowl and add to the pan. Stir continuously with a wooden spoon while you bring back to the boil until the mixture comes together and goes lumpy. Remove from the heat and stir continuously until it becomes smooth again.
Decant into a clean, cold bowl and cover with cling film directly on the surface of the cream to prevent a skin forming. Chill in the fridge.
Sift the flour, sugar and salt into a bowl.
Put the milk, butter and water into a medium saucepan and heat on low so that the butter melts but the liquid doesn’t simmer.
As soon as the butter has melted, turn up to a high heat until the liquid comes to a fast rolling boil.
Immediately take off the heat, add the flour mix and beat vigorously with a wooden spoon until it becomes a smooth dough coming away from the sides of the pan.
Spread the dough onto a plate to cool a little (so the eggs don’t scramble when you add them).
Once the dough has cooled a little, return to the pan and continue to beat, adding one egg at a time, until your mixture is shiny and smooth.
Using a piping bag with a 1-inch / 2.5cm nozzle, pipe out your pastry along your prepared lines (don’t be surprised if you don’t have enough mix to fill all the lines, dependent upon how generous I am I get anywhere between 21-24 éclairs).
Place your pastry into the oven (if using a conventional oven you’ll need to do one tray at a time on a high shelf) and immediately reduce the temperature to 200c (180c fan).
Cook for 25 minutes, then with a sharp knife make a small hole in the end of each eclair and return to the turned off oven for 5 minutes.
Put aside to cool.
Heat your chocolate orange in the microwave in 30 second bursts (making sure it doesn’t burn) until completely melted.
Once the buns have cooled, remove your cream filling from the fridge, put into a piping bag with a piping tube attached and fill your buns.
Finally, glaze with your melted chocolate and allow to cool.
For a less bitter taste you can also use milk chocolate orange.
According to some cookbooks, choux pastry was first invented in 1540 by a chef called Pantarelli (or Pantanelli) around seven years after he left the court of Catherine de’ Medici in Florence. Pantarelli used this dough to make a gateaux called pâte à Pantanelli. Over time, the dough was evolved and the name changed to pâte à popelin, made to make popelins which were small cakes shaped as a woman’s breast. Finally, an 18th century French pâtissier called Avice created buns shaped like cabbages (French choux) and the name changed to pâte à choux, or ‘cabbage pastry’.Print this Recipe