start with the pastry cream. I made a half batches of these things but, here’s the full recipes
Vanilla Pastry Cream
adapted from Cookwise by Shirley Corriher
1 1/2 cup half and half
5 egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon of vanilla bean paste
First start the half and half heating in a small pan on medium. Heat until just steaming. While the milk is heating, combine egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch, salt and vanilla past in a bowl.
Whisk to combine.
Slowly stream the milk in while whisking constantly to avoid cooking your eggs. Once the milk is incorporated, return to pan.
Heat on medium, whisking constantly until the mixture thickens and bubbles break in the center.* Take off heat immediately. Put into a shallow bowl or pan, straining if desired.
Flavor if desired. I divided mine into thirds and mixed half cherry jam with half pastry cream.
I also stirred espresso powder into one.
Chocolate would be good (though arguably overkill since we’re glazing with chocolate ganache). Raspberry, orange, cinnamon, whatever pleases you.
Cover with plastic wrap and place in fridge to cool.
*it’s important for the mixture to come to a boil because that’s what makes the cornstarch burst and thicken. If you do not boil, you run the risk of a starchy-tasting runny pastry cream. On the otherhand, over cooking will overcook the egg. Pull it off just as soon as it comes to a boil.
Pate a Choux
6 ounces half and half
1 stick of butter
1 cup of flour
pinch of salt
Preheat oven to 425.
Put the half and half and butter in a high sided pot and bring to a boil. As soon as it boils, add the flour all at once and beat it with a whisk like it owes you money. Cook it for a good minute or two to get the raw flour taste out, a small film will form on the bottom of the pot.
Remove from heat and set aside a minute. Now’s a good time to crack your eggs and ready your pastry bag. (If you don’t have a pastry bag you can use a ziploc bag.)
This is important.
Switch to a wooden spoon. Incorporate eggs one at a time. Do not add another egg until the first one is fully incorporated. Err on the side of “too incorporated”.
- No trace of egg? Now, you can continue.
If it does not want to cooperate, beat it into submission. Do not stop stirring or you will cook your egg. After the third egg, it may “break” or look like a curdled shaggy mass. You didn’t do anything wrong. It’ll come back together. Keep stirring. You may not need the fifth egg. Once it’s pipe-able,
stop. Beat in pinch of salt.
Pipe onto a parchment lined baking sheet in long strips.
- I got the plastic piping bags from Wilton, because I find no matter how diligent you are about cleaning the reusable ones, they get kinda gross.
They will have tails. Just wet your finger and press them in.
- Did you really need an illustration? Probably not.
Do not leave the tails as they will bake to a burnt crisp. Brush with egg wash if you want them to be shiny, though they will get glazed.
Once they’re puffed and dark brown,
- I let these go a little long. It’s because my baking instructor was always harping “not enough color!” Damn you to hell, Belinda Brooks! Look what you’ve done to my eclairs…
about 15-20 minutes in the oven, remove and let them dry out. They should be fairly open on the inside.
- The better to fill you with pastry cream… with. Awkward prepositional moment.
While the pate a choux is baking, make the ganache. Ganache is one of my favorites because it sounds so fancy, but it’s the simplest thing in the world.
3 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped or in chip form
3 ounces half and half
1/2 tsp vanilla
Heat half and half in a small pan until steaming. Put chocolate in a bowl.
- Ganache is my favorite use for discolored chocolate. Yes, that chocolate is still good. By the time this is whisked, you won’t even know.
Pour cream on chocolate.
Wait 30 seconds. Whisk until smooth.
Add vanilla. Oh by the way. You should measure. Or your your ganache might be a bit runny…This happened to someone I know.
Put pastry cream in a piping bag. Insert bag into one end of the eclair or into the bottom
and pipe until the tip comes out. Dip in ganache.
In the case of the cherry, it might be a bit runny, and the bits of cherry might get stuck in the piping tip, so just slice it open and slather it in.