In this article:
Let me begin by saying I had never made choux pastry before today. Nor had I made Crème Pâtissière, nor had I piped, nor had I topped chocolate eclairs. So, this is certainly not my finest work but as a complete beginner in this regard, I'm pretty chuffed I achieved edible results, albeit at the cost of any pretty photos.
I'd seen picture-perfect ruby chocolate eclairs on Instagram and Pinterest and they looked delicious. That was my reasoning behind using some of the Callebaut ruby chocolate buttons LemonVanilla kindly sent me to make my own version. So, I unleashed my inner pastry chef - which was fitting in the final week of the latest television series of Great British Bake Off (GBBO).
Making the choux pastry turned out to be quite easy. It's much like creating a roux in the main part, which is my starting point for the sauce in my macaroni cheese recipe.
The Crème Pâtissière wasn't too nerve-wracking, although I was concerned about scrambling my eggs. Thankfully it turned out alright on my first attempt.
In hindsight I should have made a ruby chocolate glaze to dip the eclairs into, but instead I used molten chocolate as I didn't have the ingredients to hand to make a smooth and glossy emulsion.
Fearful of burning the choux pastry, I think I didn't cook it long enough so it collapsed in on itself. That made the process of filling the eclairs significantly more difficult. using a rudimentary piping bag from a sheet of greaseproof paper, I filled them as best I could. Out of two trays of eclairs I baked, only around half a dozen were filled as intended. The remainder had Crème Pâtissière oozing out, or had collapsed so badly they were devoid of any filling.
The flavour of the pastry broadly matched the professionally-baked chocolate eclairs I've enjoyed previously. The Crème Pâtissière was slightly runny and lacked much in the way of flavour. A few drops of vanilla extract would have worked better.
The crisp ruby chocolate top added a slightly zingy dimension to the flavour, while amplifying the sweet and creamy aspects of this pastry treat. Personally, I preferred the ones I topped with milk chocolate (as a test) as I felt that better suited the flavours of the pastry and Crème Pât.
Overall, this attempt certainly wouldn't garner a Paul Hollywood handshake (a GBBO reference for those in the know). After he collapsed in a fit of hysterics, he might suggest I try my hand at something else instead. Pastry work is certainly not my forte.
Ruby Chocolate Eclairs Recipe
I pieced together a recipe based on a couple of different recipes, along with tips and suggestions I discovered in my research (either rightly or wrongly). I used a choux pastry (Pâte à Choux) recipe by Sally's Baking Addiction here for the shell (and can only apologise for not doing the recipe any favours with these photos). The Crème Pâtissière recipe came courtesy of BBC Good Food's community member Tony Trigg here.
I had way too much pastry for the volume of Crème Pâtissière, so have adjusted the quantities below to reflect this. I've also included vanilla into the Crème Pâtissière recipe so as to give this a bit more flavour.
Ruby Chocolate Eclairs Recipe
Choux pastry eclairs filled with Crème Pâtissière and topped with ruby chocolate
Makes approximately 8
Choux Pastry Ingredients
- 65g strong bread flour
- 60g unsalted butter
- 60ml water
- 60ml whole milk
- 2 eggs
- 1tsp granulated sugar
- A pinch of salt
Crème Pâtissière Ingredients
- 280ml whole milk
- 4 egg yolks
- 60g caster sugar
- 25g plain flour
- 2tsp cornflour
- A few drops of vanilla extract
Chocolate Top Ingredients
- 100g ruby chocolate
Ruby Chocolate Eclairs Method
Step 1 / Preheat Oven
Preheat your oven to 180°C. Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.
Step 2 / Make a Roux
Tip the butter, water, milk, sugar and a pinch of salt into a pan. Over a medium heat, stir and bring it up to a simmer. Then, drop the heat and add the flour. Stir like mad until you get a dough that holds together. Cook off the flour a little then remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.
Step 3 / Beat Eggs
Beat the eggs into a liquid. Put to one side.
Step 4 / Add Eggs
If you have a fancy stand mixer, transfer the mix into the mixing bowl. Otherwise, transfer the mix into a bowl and grab yourself a hand mixer. Turn the mixer on and slowly add the eggs in small drops. You're after a thick, glossy and pipable consistency.
Step 5 / Pipe Onto Baking Tray
Using a piping bag (or a DIY one made using greaseproof paper), pipe out sausages of dough onto the lined baking tray. Space them apart, and be generous with the mix. You want sausage sized lines rather than chipolata-sized trails.
Step 6 / Bake
Bake for 30 minutes until golden brown. Allow to cool completely.
Step 7 / Make The Crème Pâtissière
While it's baking, let's tackle the Crème Pâtissière. Beat the egg yolks, vanilla and sugar to form a paste, then whisk in the flours. Heat the milk in a pan or in the microwave until it simmers. Slowly pour the milk into the egg mix while whisking. Transfer the whole lot into a pan. Bring it to a boil, constantly whisking until it thickens. Take off the heat and top with a piece of cling-film to prevent a skin from forming as it cools. Leave to cool completely.
Step 8 / Fill Eclairs
Fill a piping bag (or DIY piping cone) with the cold Crème Pâtissière. Make small holes in the choux pastry buns and pipe in the mix.
Step 9 / Top With Chocolate
Melt the ruby chocolate in a shallow microwaveable bowl, heating in the microwave in 20 second bursts, stirring in-between. Once melted, dip the eclairs into the chocolate and allow to harden back on the baking tray. Alternatively, spoon the molten chocolate onto the eclairs (this is easier but gives a less professional finish). Enjoy!
Honestly, this recipe involves a lot of work. The glossy photos on Instagram and Pinterest don't reveal how much effort and expertise goes into making flawless chocolate eclairs. It's a fun - if intensive - home baking project and worth trying if you've never made choux pastry. Master that and cream-filled profiteroles drizzled with chocolate sauce will undoubtedly be your next project!
If you want to give this recipe a go, you'll find a 300g pouch of Ruby Chocolate at LemonVanilla (£7.50). They also stock other baking ingredients and equipment.
If you try this recipe at home, please let me know how you get on in the comments below.