Mini Eclairs for Your Day Off
Adventures in Éclair-Making
“I’m the Éclair Champ!” I thought to myself as I sat alone on my patio, a glob of cream filling across my shirt and pastry batter stuck to my socks. This was my third attempt and first success at the éclair challenge. My first try was quite terrible, as my whole team witnessed.
What’s the “éclair challenge,” you ask? That’s just what I call my journey to overcome the shame of being a hobbyist baker who failed to at making choux pastry and cream filling multiple times before finally producing some messy little lumps of heaven. Oh, by the way, this is the editorial intern Danielle.
For National Éclair Day, I eagerly volunteered to make Mini Éclairs (despite never having made any) for the Auden & Company Team. I insisted that everyone be ready for fluffy puffs filled with sweetness at the end of our team meeting....oh, the shame.
I had already over-boiled and liquefied the cream filling at home and promised I’d make a simplified version in the office. On the big day, I exhausted the team by asking each of them to take turns furiously whisking a cream mixture that refused to stiffen! Then the pastry mix, oh Lord, the pastry mix! (Insert anguished cry here) Janae witnessed my beautiful lunacy as I struggled to set the stove heat, accidentally turned it off with my hip, and formed the wet paste that would become “éclairs”. Viicky watched in terror as I tried to pipe the paste onto the baking sheet -the lines immediately spread into flat blobs instead of the neat tubes they should have been.
At the end of the day, I added some chocolate glaze on top of these stumpy, plain bread bites and gave myself a star for effort.
This embarrassing ride on the struggle bus was necessary though! I had to publicly fail so that I could eventually make a wonderful treat to comfort myself. Now, I can confidently instruct you on how to make a tasty dessert when you want to treat yourself! We’ll be using a standard choux pastry recipe and my own take on the filing (no joke, it’s pudding cake filling).
Ingredients: 3 Parts
1 cup water
1 stick unsalted butter (8 Tbsp)
½ tsp salt
1 cup flour
2 ½ Tbsp butter (room temp!)
½ pack cream cheese (4oz)
½ cup powdered sugar
4oz whipped cream
1 ½ cup milk
1 box instant vanilla pudding
...here, measurements are for suckers! (But seriously, use about about 1 Tbsp cream/oil for a half-cup of chocolate)
Some semi-sweet chocolate chips
A bit of either heavy cream or coconut oil
Thankfully, with a recipe like this, you can make the cream filling before, during, or after you make the pastries. But save the chocolate glaze/topping for last!
Pre-heat the oven to 425°
On the stove, warm the butter, water, and salt together on med-low. Once the butter is melted, bring it to a boil on medium heat.
Remove the pan from heat to add in the flour. Stir it quickly until it’s fully mixed and pasty.
Put the mixture back on the heat and stir until it’s stiff. Like, seriously, you should be cooking most of the moisture out of this thing. After 5 minutes or so, transfer it to a mixing bowl.
Beat that sucker until it’s no longer super steaming hot. The bowl and the pasty mix should be just warm...this took a few minutes for me, so if you’ve got a standing mixer it’s a good opportunity to take a breather by the window!
On the side, beat the eggs together. At this point, my eggs were sweating from the heat in my tiny little kitchen.
Add the eggs little by little in between beating the mixture. As in, add about 1 egg’s worth, beat, and repeat until you’ve got about one egg left.
Before adding that last bit of egg, check to make sure the mixture is smooth and still slightly stiff. If you scoop it and it falls right off the spoon, you don’t need the last egg bit. Otherwise, add that in too! You’ve officially got dough!
Now, on a baking sheet, you can arrange the dough either by piping (the best option to shape it like eclairs) or just plopping (if you don’t need tube-shapes)
- If you want Mini Eclairs, use a food storage bag to pipe 3-inch tubes onto the sheet.
Pop these bad boys in for 13 minutes.
After that, turn the heat down to 375° for another 15 minutes.
Turn it down to 325° for the next 15 minutes.
Turn it down to 300° for about 20 minutes. Afterward, pull out just one and split it open. If it’s moist inside, leave them in for a few more minutes. We want dryness! Also, they’ll seem like hard little shells but that is what you want!
Leave the pastry shells to cool on the counter. Next, split them longways with a knife.
Mix the room-temp butter, cream cheese, and powdered sugar in a bowl. Make sure it’s totally smooth or else you’ll get lardy lumps of butter or cream cheese in your filling!
In a separate bowl, mix the milk, pudding mix, and whipped cream.
Combine the two bowls and mix until smooth.
Ta-da! You’ve got filling! Yeah, this part’s pretty easy.
Put the chocolate chips and heavy cream (or coconut oil) in a small bowl.
Microwave for 5 seconds and mix. Repeat only once or twice more. The chocolate should be melted, shiny, and smooth. If you’ve got any curdling going on, you have permission to start over.
Either dip the tops of the pastries into the chocolate glaze or use a spoon to spread it on top. Whether they’re pretty or not, they’ll be tasty!
With those pastry tops glazed, you can spread the cream filling on the pastry bottoms. Place the chocolate top onto the cream bottom and you’ve got a little eclair sandwich! Enjoy some treats!