February 4, 2016
How To Make Homemade Éclairs For Valentine’s Day
Ever since Toronto bakery Nugateau opened, artisanal éclairs are having a moment. As if fresh off the boat from France, the flavor-packed pastries are luxuriously light and creamy, and come in flavors like Lemon Meringue, Salted Caramel and Persian Pistachio. Best of all, they’re not as complicated to make as they look. We’re sharing Nugateau’s famous Tahitian Vanilla Éclair recipe, just in time to whip up for loved ones this Valentine’s Day. Create bakery-worthy results by following our food editor Kristen Eppich’s expert tips, then get the full recipe below:
- Cut the butter into consistent sizes so it melts at an even rate.
- Line your sheets with parchment. Dab a touch of dough under each corner of the parchment paper to keep it in place while you pipe out your dough.
- Use a pastry bag and tips to pipe your pastries onto the baking sheet.
- Steam is what creates the air pockets in the pastry to make it light and fluffy. To make steam, spritz the tray lightly with water just prior to baking.
- Once baked, allow the pastries to cool on the tray, as moving them too much can cause them to deflate.
- If you prefer to make the pâte à choux in advance, pipe onto the tray and freeze. Thaw and brush with milk before baking.
Yield: Makes 15-20 Éclair
Pâte À Choux
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Combine water, milk, salt, sugar and butter in a medium pot over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil. Turn off heat and working quickly, add the flour and mix until the liquid is absorbed and there are no visible lumps or dry flour.
- Turn heat back on to medium. Cook the pate for 1-2 minutes stirring continuously or until the dough pulls away from the sides of the pan to form a ball and the surface has a shiny, glossy look.
- Transfer the dough to the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment. Beat on medium-low speed until the dough is just warm to the touch. Add 3 eggs, one at a time until each is completely mixed into the dough. When the paste is ready, the dough will be soft and very smooth. If the dough is still stiff, mix in the fourth egg.
- Fill up a piping bag with 6B tip and pipe into 13cm logs on a tray lined with parchment paper. Brush the top of each éclair with milk. Mist the tray with some cold water and put the tray in the middle of the oven.
- Reduce the temperature to 320ºF. Bake for 25 minutes without opening the door or until the éclairs are golden brown. Gently open the oven door to release some steam and bake another 4 minutes. Repeat same process until no steam is visible when door is opened and the éclairs feel dry and crisp on top. Remove and cool on tray.
- Combine milk and cream in a pot. Split and scrape the vanilla bean and add it to the milk.
- Combine yolks, sugar in a bowl and mix well. Add cornstarch and mix again until combined and smooth.
- Bring the milk mixture to a boil. While stirring, add one third of the hot milk to the egg mixture and and mix well. Once combined add all the remaining hot milk to the eggs and mix until smooth.
- Return the mixture to the same pot and continue cooking on medium heat until it comes to a boil. Stir continuously to avoid any lumps in the cream. Once the cream comes to a boil, cook for another 30-50 seconds.
- Remove the mixture from the heat and stir in the white chocolate. Whisk well, until all the chocolate is melted and incorporated into the cream. Pour into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap touching the surface. Chill for 20-30 minutes until the mixture feels room temperature. Remove and mix in the soft butter, preferably using a whisk or a hand blender until smooth and creamy.
- Chill the cream filling for at least 2 hours or more before using. It’s good to prepare it one day ahead.
Assemble & Icing
- Using a small knife or a small piping tip make two small holes close to both the ends of the éclair on the bottom side. Fill a piping bag with a small piping tip 801 or something similar.
- Pipe the cream into the éclairs on each side making sure its filled all the way to the center. Refrigerate for 15-20 minutes.
- Stir together icing sugar and milk or water to make icing. Glaze top of the éclairs. Decorate with toasted almonds (optional).