Picture this, chocolate éclairs topped with chocolate craquelin and filled with chocolate crémeux. I got your attention didn’t I? I did not mistakenly mention the word “chocolate” three times in a sentence! This éclair really is a chocolate lover’s dream.
The only difference now is that we will be adding some cocoa powder to give our éclairs a full chocolate profile. So you’ve got this! And if you don’t, no worries. You can always go back to the previous calendars to get more comfortable with the basics.
Making Chocolate Craquelin
The craquelin needs to be refrigerated so that it is easy to handle. Ideally, you could prepare it the night before. But if you don’t manage, just prepare it first and refrigerate or freeze it, depending on how quick you are in making choux pastry.
- Prepare a piece of parchment paper to put the dough in.
- In a small bowl, mix the softened butter, cocoa powder, flour, sugar and salt using your fingertips until a smooth dough forms. It will look dry initially but keep mixing until it comes together and is easily gathered into a ball.
- Place the dough towards one side of the parchment paper and cover with the other side of the paper.
- Roll it to a thickness of about 2mm.
- If the craquelin dough isn’t too soft at this point, cut rectangles that you will later place over your éclairs. I just eyeball it but mine always end up slightly wider than I would like. Aim for a length of about 12cm and a thickness of about 2cm. I like cutting shapes at this point so that I can quickly peel them off once the dough is cold. If the dough is too soft, refrigerate it a little and then cut the shapes.
- Cover once more with the parchment paper and refrigerate the dough for at least 1 hour or freeze it for 15 minutes.
Issues you might encounter
This dough is very easy to handle if it is cool enough. So you should be able to easily peel off the craquelin rectangles from the paper. Remove first one side of the parchment paper and then gently peel off the other side to release the craquelin. If you aren’t quick enough though or your kitchen is very warm, it will get soft again.
I would suggest splitting the dough into two balls before rolling. This way you can keep a part of the craquelin in the fridge while you are working with the rest. If you do not wish to do so or have trouble working with such small quantities, you could simply freeze the craquelin when it gets too soft. It will slow down the process a little since you will have to wait at least 10 minutes for it to be firm enough. But use whatever technique you are most comfortable with.
Making Chocolate Eclairs
Making the chocolate panade
- Sift the cocoa powder and flour together in a small bowl. Set aside.
- Cut the butter into small pieces and place in a pan. Add the water, sugar and salt. Set to low heat, stirring every now and then.
- Once the butter has melted fully, increase the heat to medium-high.
- When the first bubbles appear, remove from the heat and add in one go the sifted flour and cocoa mixture.
- Keep stirring until the dough (panade) looks completely homogeneous and smooth. You should not see any traces of flour.
- Return to the heat and keep mixing on medium-high heat until a film forms at the bottom of the pot and the dough collects into a ball.
- Remove from the heat and transfer to a medium sized bowl.
- Take a moment to breathe in the amazing cocoa smell!
- You can either let the dough cool slightly on its own and do some dish-washing! Or you could stir it with a wooden spoon and even flatten the dough on the edges of the bowl to speed up the cooling process.
Adding the eggs
- When there is no steam coming out anymore and the dough feels just slightly warm, start adding the eggs slowly. Combine fully before adding more eggs. The choux pastry will look curdled but will come together when you keep mixing.
- Keep adding more eggs until the choux pastry looks smooth and glossy and slowly falls back from the spoon leaving a V-shape (see bottom right picture).
If you need more information on the right consistency of choux pastry, you can read this post. If you are still confused, just think about this for chocolate choux pastry: if it looks so good that you just want to eat it with a spoon, it’s probably ready!
The choux pastry shouldn’t be too runny. It should only come out of the piping bag when you press. It should not leak.
Piping Chocolate Eclairs
- Fill your piping bag fitted with a French star tip and remove the air bubbles. If you’re not sure how to do this, you can read more about it here.
- Pipe the chocolate éclairs (about 12cm) and top with a cold craquelin.
If you really want to try this recipe but piping éclairs still scares you, don’t worry about it! You can pipe choux or any shape you want really.
Bake in a preheated oven and let the éclairs cool down completely to room temperature before filling them with the chocolate crémeux.
Assembling The Chocolate Eclairs
We learned yesterday how to make chocolate crémeux. Hopefully you haven’t eaten it with a spoon already! We are now ready to pipe it into the chocolate éclairs!
Cutting the chocolate éclairs
- The first thing you need to do is carefully cut your éclairs somewhere in the middle. If you are not comfortable doing this step, then you can simply pipe the crémeux on top without cutting the éclair. It will be just as delicious. My éclairs were actually too dry because I had to hide them in a turned off oven. My youngest goes insane if he sees them! So some of the éclairs were cracking and I just piped the crémeux on top. The only issue with this is that it is slightly harder to hold them when you’re eating them.
- Take the crémeux out of the fridge. It will be quite thick initially but once it warms up a little it will be very easy to pipe.
Piping chocolate crémeux
- Pipe using whatever piping tip you’d like. The piping tip pictured here is Wilton 2B. I had never used it before and I thought I would really struggle with it but it was actually easy and so much fun! I will definitely start using this tip more often.
All that’s left to do now is to eat! I mean you could refrigerate them for later technically. But in reality, that’s probably not going to happen! If you do save them for later though, I would recommend letting them sit at room temperature for a few minutes to get the “melt in your mouth” texture of the crémeux.
And if you have salted caramel sauce lying around, try drizzling some on top and please let me know how tasty it is! We ate all the éclairs before I had a chance to try out a caramel twist and now I can’t stop thinking about it!
In case you missed it, head over to the crème Anglaise baking calendar to see what we’ll be learning this month.