Choux pastry is a French classic that transforms in the oven into airy puffs with a crisp exterior, ready to be filled and iced. It may seem a little daunting to make, but it’s easy with our step-by-step guide.
Prep + Cook Time 2 hours 15 mins (+ cooling time) | Makes 24
2 cups (500 ml water)
150 g unsalted butter, chopped finely
2 tbsps dark brown sugar
2 cups (300 g) bread flour (see Baking Tip)
300 ml thickened cream
Dulce De Leche
2 x 395 g canned sweetened condensed milk
2 cups (320 g) icing sugar
¼ cup (60 ml) freshly-made espresso coffee, approximately
1. Preheat oven to 220 C (200 C fan-forced). Grease three oven trays.
2. DULCE DE LECHE Pour condensed milk into a medium ovenproof dish; cover with foil. Place dish in a large baking dish; add enough boiling water to baking dish to come halfway up side of dish. Bake for 1½ hours, or until condensed milk is a caramel colour (Step 1). Cool to room temperature. Whisk caramel until smooth.
3. To make choux pastry, combine the water, butter and sugar in a medium saucepan; bring to the boil. Add flour; beat with a wooden spoon over medium heat until mixture comes away from the base and side of the pan (Step 2). Transfer pastry to a large bowl of an electric mixer. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until the mixture is smooth and glossy.
4. Spoon pastry into a piping bag fitted with 1.5 cm plain tube. Pipe 12 cm lengths on trays, about 5 cm apart. Using a finger ripped in water, smooth any rough edges (Step 3).
5. Bake eclairs for 10 mins. Reduce oven to 180 C (160 C fan-forced); bake for a further 15 mins. Using a serrated knife, cut eclair cases in half horizontally; remove any soft doughy centres. Return cases to trays; bake for a further 5 mins, or until cases are dry. Cool on trays.
6. COFFEE ICING Meanwhile, sift icing sugar into a medium heatproof bowl. Stir in enough coffee to form a thick paste. Place bowl after a saucepan of simmering; stir until spreadable. (Or microwave on the high-heat setting for 20 seconds, or until spreadable.) Spread pastry tops with icing while warm.
7. Beat cream with dulce de leche in a bowl with an electric mixer until firm peaks form. Spoon cream mixture into a piping bag; pipe into pastry bases (Step 4).
BAKING TIP: Bread flour, available from supermarkets, will give a better result; however plain flour can be used as well. Eclairs are best assembled close to serving. Unfilled pastry cases can be made a day ahead, or can be frozen for up to one month.
PHOTOS: BEN DEARNLEY / BAUERSYNDICATION.COM.AU