I thought these eclairs were very cute, like three cream puffs in a row. They’re best fresh, when the crust is still crispy on the outside. If you have leftovers, you can store the “shells” and filling separately. The next day, heat the shells briefly at 350ºF to restore some of the crispiness.
From Dorie Greenspan’s Baking Chez Moi and Around My French Table
Yield: 16 bubble eclairs
For the dough:
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/2 cup water
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 4 large eggs, at room temperature
For the pastry cream filling:
- 2 cups milk
- 6 large egg yolks
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup cornstarch, sifted
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into bits, at room temperature
Prepare the pastry cream filling (can store tightly covered in fridge for up to 3 days):
- In a small saucepan, bring milk to a boil.
- In a medium saucepan, whisk yolks together with sugar and cornstarch until thick and well blended.
- While still whisking, drizzle in 1/4 cup of hot milk to temper the egg yolks so they don’t curdle.
- While still whisking, pour in the rest of the milk.
- Put pan over medium heat and, whisking vigorously and constantly, bring mixture to a boil.
- Keep at a boil for 1-2 minutes and continue whisking.
- Remove pan from heat and whisk in vanilla extract.
- Let mixture sit for 5 minutes, then whisk in butter, stirring until it is fully incorporated.
- Whisk until the pastry cream is smooth and silky.
- Scrape into a bowl and press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface. Refrigerate until cold.
Make the eclairs:
- Position rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 425ºF. Line baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil.
- Combine milk, water, butter, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan.
- Bring to a boil over high heat.
- Add flour all at once, lower heat to medium-low, and immediately start stirring energetically with a wooden spoon or heavy whisk. The dough will come together and a light crust will form on the bottom of the pan.
- Continue to stir vigorously for 1-2 minutes longer to dry the dough. It will be very smooth.
- Turn dough into a bowl and let it sit for a minute. If using a stand mixer, fit it with the paddle attachment. You can also use a hand mixer or even mix by hand.
- Add eggs one at a time and beat, beat, beat until the dough is thick and shiny. Make sure that each egg is completely incorporated before you add the next. The dough might fall apart at first, but it will come back together by the time you add the last egg.
- Use dough as soon as it is made!
- To shape the bubble eclairs, you can use a small 2-teaspoon-capacity cookie scoop (probably the easiest method), pipe the dough from a Ziploc or pastry bag with a plain or open star tip, or even shape the bubbles with small spoons. Get the 3 bubbles as close to each other as possible and leave 2 inches between eclairs. (At this point, you can put the entire pan in the freezer. Once the eclairs are frozen, you can transfer them into a plastic bag to store in the freezer for up to 2 months.)
- Put baking sheet into oven and immediately turn temperature down to 375ºF. (If using eclairs from the freezer, don’t defrost them. Just add 1-2 minutes to the baking time.)
- Bake eclairs for 20 minutes without opening the oven door. Rotate the pan and bake for another 10-15 minutes, or until they are golden in color and firm to the touch.
- Transfer eclairs to a rack to cool to room temperature. (At this point, you can wrap them airtight and freeze them for up to 2 months. When you want to use them, defrost them in the refrigerator, warm them in an oven at 350ºF for 10 minutes, and cool them before filling.)
- When the eclairs are cool, you can fill them. You can use a pastry bag with a medium plain tip to poke a hole in the side or bottom of each eclair and squeeze in pastry cream until it comes to the edges of the hole. Alternatively, you can slice the eclairs in half horizontally and pipe, scoop, or spoon filling into the bottom halves. Cap with the tops.
- Serve eclairs immediately or stow in refrigerator to serve later the same day.