Mom confession, some times I “go to the grocery store” but really I’m just “shame” eating junk food in my mini van watching an old Disney movies that are in the DVD player of my car. Being the only girl in a house full of boys (especially tween-age boys, they stink so bad!!) is a lot and I just need a break. These days my favorite “shame food” is a chocolate eclair from the pastry case of Fred Myers, surprisingly they are great. I’m calling it “shame food” is because after a little practice they’re so easy to make at home. Since I want to keep a traditional pastry cream and chocolate eclair a specialty of the car I started filling these with lemon curd, vanilla bean whipped cream then topping them with fresh raspberries to make a lighter more spring/summery twist on the classic.
Eclairs start with a traditional choux pastry or pâte à choux dough, which sounds harder than it is to make. Choux pastry dates back to the 1600th century where it has been said that Catherine de’ Medici cook started making them once settled in France. This history nerd personally loves Catherine de’ Medici and Mary Queen of Scots story, so I love this fact, but i digress. The choux dough only contains butter, water, flour, and eggs, there is no raising agent. They get their signature puff from the high moisture content that creates steam during cooking. The high moisture content is achieved by boiling the water and butter, then adding the flour cooking long enough to develop gluten and to cook out the raw flour flavor. Then adding enough eggs to achieve the desired consistency, before piping into thick oblong shape then baking in a hot oven to encourage puffing. Once baked they should be dry hollow pastry shells that are ready to be filled with lemon curd (that no one will judge you if you use store bought), whipped cream, and fresh raspberries.
Raspberry Lemon Eclairs
Yield: 12 eclairs
Pàte dè Choux Pastry
2 cups Water
1 cup Butter, unsalted room temp and cut in pieces
pinch of salt
2 cups AP Flour
8 large Eggs
2 cups Lemon Curd
2 cups Heavy Whipping Cream
2 tablespoons Powdered Sugar
1/2 Vanilla bean, or 1 teaspoon Vanilla extract
1 pint fresh Raspberries
To Start: Measure all your ingredients in advance and no eye balling here. The amount of water is very important and will mess with the outcome.
Step One: In a medium sauce pot combine water, butter, and salt and bring to a boil. Making sure the butter is fully melted and salt is dissolved.
Step Two: Once the butter is melted and the water is boiling Immediately add flour all at once to make sure not a lot of water is evaporated and stir vigorously, this will develop gluten. Cook for a few minutes until the dough pulls away from the sides of the pot and forms a ball. Make sure there are no dry clumps of flour and that you did cook long enough to cook the raw flour flavor out, about 3 minutes.
Step Three: Remove from heat allow to cool for 5-10 minutes. Add the dough to a stand mixer and mix on medium low adding eggs in one at a time. watching the consistency. Too Runny will not allow them to raise and you will have more lady finger, and too stiff you will get dumpling.
Step Four: Spoon the dough into a piping bag with a large plain tip. Lay parchment paper or a Silicone baking pad on a cookie sheet and lightly spritz with water, this will help encourage lift. Pipe 12 strips that are 4 inches long and 2 inches thick, making sure to space them out so they don’t touch as they puff.
Step Five: Bake in a 400º oven for 30-35 minutes or until they are golden brown, firm, and dry. Transfer the eclairs to a wire rack to and allow to cool completely. Cut of the top third of the eclair and scoop out any dough remaining inside.
Add the heavy whipping cream to a bowl or stand mixer and using the whipping attachment whip until frothy about half whipped then add the powdered, sugar, small pinch of salt and the scraped inside of 1/2 a vanilla bean. Start to whip on medium high until stiff peaks.
Add Whipped Cream into a piping bag with wide decorative tip
To Finish: To keep the bottoms from getting soggy wait to fill until just before serving. Spoon the lemon curd on to the bottom part of the eclair, top with piped whipped cream, place raspberries in the cream, place the top back on and dust with powdered sugar.
Serve imminently to avoid as Mary Berry says “soggy bottoms”.