An éclair is a long thin pastry made with choux dough filled with a cream and topped with icing. (Choux dough only contains water, flour, butter, egg. Instead of a raising agent, it uses high moisture content to create steam during cooking to puff the pastry.)
The éclair probably originated in France during the nineteenth century. It is a popular type of cake served all over the world. The word is first attested both in English and in French in the 1860s. Some food historians speculate that éclairs were first made by Antonin Carême (1784–1833), the famous French chef. The first known English-language recipe for éclairs appears in the Boston Cooking School Cook Book by Mrs. D.A. Lincoln, published in 1884. (Wikipedia)
In the Betty Crocker Picture Cookbook , 1950, the Chocolate Eclair is made from a basic cream puff recipe described as a French-born delicacy….crisp, hollow.
To make Chocolate Eclairs, start with the recipe for Cream Puffs.
Heat to rolling boiling point in saucepan …
1 cup water
1/2 cup butter
Stir in all at once…
1 cup sifted Gold Medal flour
Stir vigorously over low heat until mixture leaves the pan and forms into a ball (about 1 min). Remove from heat.
Beat in, 1 at a time, 4 eggs
Beat mixture until smooth and velvety. Drop from spoon onto ungreased baking sheet. Bake until dry. Allow to cool slowly.
Temp: 400 degrees (mod. hot oven)
Time: 45 to 50 minutes
Amount: 8 large puffs
Chocolate Eclairs: Follow recipe above except put dough through pastry tube, or shape with spatula into 12 fingers 4″ long and 1″ wide. Fill with Rich Custard Filling, and frost with Thin Chocolate Icing.
Amount: 12 eclairs.
Well, I didn’t have a pastry tube, so I had to spread mine with a spoon and spatula. I wasn’t quite sure how thick to leave them, so it was sort of a guess. In hindsight, next time I will spread them 4″ long and 1″ wide and about 1″ thick. My recipe actually made 14, so some were a little thin.
Next time I’ll try a pastry tube. Spreading with a spatula (long narr0w cake style, not a spatula for frying eggs) was a little time consuming. A pastry tube would have to be much quicker and neater.
Also I used parchment paper on my cookie sheets. I thought that the baking time of 45 to 50 minutes would surely be too long because they browned pretty quickly, I thought they would over overcook. But actually it took the complete time and even at that, they were still a little damp in the middle. But I’m coming to that.
Cut off tops with a sharp knife. Scoop out any filaments of soft dough. (I used a bread knife or one with a serrated edge, worked great.)
Fill with sweetened whipped cream for Cream Puffs, replace tops and dust with confectioners’ sugar. Serve cold.
For Chocolate Eclairs, fill with Rich Custard Filling.
Rich Custard Filling
Mix together in saucepan …
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
6 tbsp. Gold Medal flour
Stir in ….
2 cups top milk (or milk and cream) (Top milk is an old term describing fresh milk in the top of the jar that contains the cream. The cream would settle to the top and was skimmed off to make butter. Not having any “fresh” milk today, I used what was available in the frig…2%, and the recipe turned out just fine! I could have used some evaporated milk too, but too late.)
Cook over low heat, stirring until it boils. Boil 1 minute. Remove from heat. Stir a little of this mixture into ……
4 egg yolks (or 2 eggs), beaten
Blend into hot mixture in saucepan. (Adding a little bit of the hot mixture to the eggs, will help keep your eggs from curdling.)
Bring to a boiling point. Cool and blend in…..
2 tsp. vanilla or other flavoring (I used vanillla. Note: The mixture was a lovely pale yellow color and I never thought about using clear vanilla. I used regular brown vanilla and it colored my mixture a little.
Frost with Thin Chocolate Icing (this was the best part!)
Thin Chocolate Icing
(For Boston Cream Pie, Cream Puffs, and such.)
Melt together over hot water ……
1 sq. unsweetened chocolate (1 oz)
1 tsp butter
Remove from over the hot water.
Blend in …..
2 tbsp. boiling water
1 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar
Beat only until smooth but not stiff.
Well I didn’t take the time to dig out my double boiler for this small amount, I used the microwave at 20 second intervals. I added a few more drops of water to make the icing a tiny bit thinner.
After the eclairs were filled with the custard and tops replaced, I drizzled chocolate icing over them with a spoon. Typically, Chocolate Eclairs have the icing spread over the tops, but I wasn’t sure how far my chocolate was going to go, so I drizzled to be sure everything got covered with some chocolate. I could have made a second batch of Thin Chocolate Icing and covered them perfectly, but I was crunched for time.
They turned out very tasty, not too sweet and for me, the dark chocolate was the perfect final touch. They really were not hard to make and next time I know I can make them look prettier, but you know……next time I may just buy some small crossaints, toast them…..and just make the custard filling and chocolate icing…….speed queen Chocolate Eclairs!
The Chocolate Dizzle Christmas ornament from Inge-Glas looks a lot like my Chocolate Eclair! What a great gift idea……make someone a batch from this 1950 Betty Crocker recipe, or package the ingredients in a gift basket, and put in a keepsake German made Christmas ornament that will last for years to come.