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  1. Eclairs with Nutella Icing

    Saturday, April 20, 2013

    I LOVE eclairs. Or cream puffs. It's the same recipe, the only difference is the shape of the pastry.
    I got this recipe from my cookbook: Baking with the Cake Boss. I made a few changes that I made while doing the recipe. I've actually made this recipe twice, and I've been doing my version of it because I found some problems with it when I was making it.

    For instance, the original recipe calls for the custard to be thickened with flour - but it just wasn't thickening fast enough - or at all - so I use cornstarch instead. I also noticed that the pastry dough recipe says that it makes 24 eclairs/cream puffs but BOTH times I made them it only came out to 18. I also changed the icing to use Nutella instead of chocolate chips.

    The finished pastry can be cut and filled two ways: either sliced completely in half and filled like a sandwich (pictured here) OR puncture a hole in the bottom and fill the inside with a pastry bag (I did this method when I made cream puffs the second time around). Both methods work, it's just a matter of preference. Although when you fill the pastry from the inside, you can't really tell how much it's filled on the inside. I had to tell by the weight of the pastry.

    When making this dessert, keep in mind that it either must be started early in the morning or over the course of two days. The custard must chill for at least 6 hours, so this is not a dessert that can be made and eaten quickly.

    Eclairs (or Cream Puffs) with Nutella Icing
    makes 18

    Italian Custard Cream
    - 2 1/2 cups whole milk
    - 1 TB vanilla extract
    - 1 cup sugar
    - 3 TB cornstarch
    - 5 extra-large egg yolks
    - 1 TB salted butter

    Choux Pastry Dough
    - 1 cup water
    - 6 TB (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
    - 1/8 tsp salt
    - 1 cup flour
    - 4 extra-large eggs

    Nutella Icing
    - 1 1/2 - 2 cups powdered sugar
    - 2 TB water
    - 2 heaping TB Nutella

    Italian Custard Cream
    Pour the milk and vanilla in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat.
    In a bowl, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, and egg yolks. Slowly ladle a cup of the milk-vanilla mixture into the bowl and whisk in to temper the eggs.
    Add the yolk mixture to the saucepan and whisk over medium heat until thick and creamy. Lower the heat slightly and keep whisking until the custard becomes very thick. 
    Remove from heat and add the butter. Continue whisking for several minutes.
    Transfer to a bowl. Let cool, then cover with plastic wrap (with the plastic touching the custard surface to prevent a skin from forming), and refrigerate for a least 6 hours.

    Choux Pastry Dough
    Put the water, butter, and salt in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat.
    Add the flour and stir with a wooden spoon until the ingredients come together into a smooth, uniform dough.
    Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Start paddling on low speed, then add eggs, one at a time, until thoroughly absorbed, mixing for one minute between eggs. Finish with the final egg and mix for an additional 2 minutes. The dough will be very thick and sticky.
    Use the dough immediately. It does not refrigerate well.

    Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
    Transfer choux dough into a pastry bag fitted with a #6 plain tip (I used a #  star tip instead; you could also use a large ziploc bag with the tip snipped off). The dough should be piped (1 inch wide and 3 inches long*) two inches apart onto parchment paper lined baking sheets.
    Bake the eclairs in the oven, in batches if necessary, until they are golden brown and have set enough that you can pick them up easily off the baking sheet; 15 - 20 minutes.
    Remove the tray from the oven and let the eclairs cool on the baking sheet for about 20 minutes, you don't need to transfer them to a rack to cool.
    Use a serrated knife to slice through the eclairs.
    Fill a pastry bag with the custard and pipe the filling into the eclairs (you can use the same bag you used for piping the dough, just rinse it out and dry it first).
    Ice the eclairs following the recipe below.

    Nutella Icing
     To ice the eclairs, spoon the heaping tablespoons of nutella into a small, microwaveable bowl with the water. Microwave for about a minute to melt the nutella slightly.
    Whisk in the sugar until the mixture is uniformly smooth.
    Use a spoon or small spatula to use the tops of the eclairs.

    Serve the eclairs right away.
    They can also be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 days or frozen in the freezer for about a month. Eclairs can be eaten straight from the freezer as well if you wish (makes them kind of taste like they are filled with ice cream).


    *To make cream puffs instead of eclairs, use the same pastry bag tip. Pipe rounds onto parchment paper lined baking sheets that are 2 inches in diameter and about 1/2 inch high, leaving 2 inches between puffs. Bake at the same temperature for the same amount of time.


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