Can we just talk about these éclairs? I have been eating them for what feels for-evaaa. But its only been weeks.
The upside to that is after much testing and tinkering, I’ve perfected the recipe for you.
Let me start by saying that some pate choux recipes call for all water, while others use half milk, half water. Mine falls into the latter. And since my stomach isn’t always happy when I consume milk, I’m so glad to know a2 Milk® is now available to people like me.
Can we just talk about how excited I am that a2 Milk®is now widely available in California? It’s natural milk from specially selected cows that produce milk without the A1 beta-casein protein—the protein that may cause digestive discomfort for those us not clinically diagnosed as lactose intolerant. a2 Milk® is a great replacement to the overly processed alternatives like Lactaid or Fairlife. And, I especially love that not only are their cows not given hormones or rBST, but the cows are also fed a vegetarian diet.
Do you see why someone like me is crushing on these specially selected cows and their milk?
An added good thing for this recipe because the burnt caramel pastry cream that these éclairs are stuffed with is made with a milk base. Milk is a key component in this recipe so you will definitely want to grab some a2 Milk®
With that, lets talk pate choux for these éclairs. These are exactly on point with what you need – hollow insides (no heavy webbing) and minimal cracks on the top with a crispy exterior. If you follow me on Instagram than you saw the evolution of this recipe. If not, you can see the recipe side-by-side transformation here.
In fact, stay tuned because I’ll be making a short video that will include key techniques for how to make éclairs that are more polished in appearance—that is without cracks and with hollow insides.
For the finish on these éclairs, I went with my usual heavy-handed flair. Beyond the decorative factor, I piped some Swiss Meringue on top for a lighter textural contrast to the caramel pastry cream. Then I sprinkled it with chocolate covered almonds for some crunch and added gold leaf for a final visual punch. But feel free to keep it simple and and stick with a chocolate glaze.
However, you finish it, grab a glass of a2 Milk® and enjoy!
**This is a sponsored post in collaboration with a2 Milk Company™ All opinions are my own.
Chocolate Eclairs with Burnt Caramel Pastry Creme
Yield: 28 4-inch eclairs
Pate Choux (makes 28 4-inch eclair shells)
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1/2 cup water
- 6 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (4.5 oz) flour
- 5 eggs, room temperature
Burnt Caramel Creme (makes about 2 1/2 cups)
- 1 cup + 4 tablespoons sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 cups milk
- 1/3 cup cornstarch
- 4 large egg yolks
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 teaspoons vanilla paste
- 2/3 cup heavy cream
- 8 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
To make eclair shells:
Preparation: Heat oven to 425 degrees F. Line two baking sheet with parchment paper. Fit pastry bag with 1/2 inch star tip (shells will crack less with a star tip vs round tip).
In a medium saucepan, stir and cook, milk, water, butter, sugar and salt over medium heat. Once butter is melted, add flour all at once, using a sturdy spatula or wooden spoon, stir until streaks of flour is no longer visible. Now start vigorously stirring and the dough and smashing it agains the side of pan. The idea is to cook the moisture out of the dough. Dough is ready when it starts to pull away from side and a visible film is on the bottom of pan, about 3-5 minutes.
Transfer mixture to a stand mixer bowl fitted with a paddle attachment and beat on low for 3 minutes to release the steam.
Turn mixer to medium and beat in egg yolk one at a time, making sure each one is completely incorporated before adding the next one. Dough is ready when it is noticeably smooth, glossy and a bit stretchy.
Transfer dough to a pastry bag. Pipe 4 inch long shells onto prepared baking sheet, make sure to space each one 2 inches apart. Bake 425 degrees F for 12 minutes, turn pan and drop heat to 350 degrees F and bake for another 10 minutes. Remove shells from oven and working quickly, slit tops of eclair 1/2 an inch long. Return shells to pan, transfer pan back to oven and let dry with door propped open, about 30-40 minutes.
To make burnt caramel creme: In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup sugar and water, bring to a boil over medium heat. Brush down sides of pan with water as needed to prevent crystals from forming. Continue to boil for 8-10 minutes or until mixture turns a deep amber and just starts to smoke (the deeper the color, the more flavor). Remove pan from heat and immediately stir in milk (mixture will bubble and steam wildly, so be careful not to burn yourself). Return pan to low heat, cook and stir until smooth. Increase heat to medium. Let simmer about 1-2 minutes, remove from heat; set aside.
In the meantime and in a large bowl, whisk together 4 tablespoons sugar and cornstarch. Add in egg yolks and whisk to combine. Add about 5 tablespoon, 1 tablespoon at a time, of hot caramel mixture into yolk mixture while stirring constantly (this will temper the eggs and prevent it from curdling.) Once eggs are tempered pour in remaining caramel mixture. Return mixture to pot, cook and stir over medium heat until thickened and comes just to a boil, about 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat, strain mixture. Stir in butter and vanilla paste. Let cool slightly and place plastic wrap directly on surface. The Burnt Caramel Creme can be made up to 2 days in advance. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. Bring to room temperature on counter tip when ready to use.
To make chocolate glaze: In a small saucepan, bring the cream ot just a boil over medium heat. Pour cream over chocolate and whisk until melted and smooth. Set aside and keep warm. The glaze can be made up to 2 days in advance. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. Rewarm in a microwave when ready to use.
Assembly: Fill eclair shells with burnt caramel creme. Dip filled eclairs in chocolate. Finished as desired. To finish like the picture, pipe swiss meringue buttercream on top and layer with sliced chocolate covered almonds.