I have certainly eaten my fair share (and more) of French pastry, but I’ve always felt a bit intimidated about making it at home. I have usually had access to great French bakeries and thought it wasn’t really worth the effort. A friend of mine asked if I would make some chocolate eclairs for her – she had just been to Paris and wanted me to replicate a traditional eclair for her. I decided it was time, and to accept the challenge.
I started researching how to make pâte à choux and crème pâtissière and decided that I could do this (and if I can, so can you, trust me). The instructions here are very specific, but they are actually pretty simple. If you follow them exactly you should get great results. The creme does get very thick and it should – it needs to have substance or it can leak out or make the eclair too damp. There are varying opinions on whether you should open the door a bit during cooking, or leave it closed. I tried both ways, and I didn’t notice too much of a difference, but there was a little less deflating when I cracked the door open with a spoon. I didn’t want them to be too sweet – French pastry actually usually isn’t, so I didn’t add too much sugar to the pastry creme and used a dark chocolate for the glaze. You are welcome to add more sugar to the cream, and maybe ¼ cup of powdered sugar to the glaze if you have an insatiable sweet tooth.