Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Chocolate Éclair's: Valentines Day Dessert

By: Hang Knighton
A note: This is the first installment of a regular guest post series by my best gal pal, Hang. She is a super duper rock star and seriously excels in a place where I feel as helpless as a kitten up a tree: The Kitchen...and I'm not so bad behind the lens so we decided to team up! She regularly entertains and cooks for 4-8 people at a time, and she does it all with a 2 year old at her feet or on her hip. Hopefully we can learn a thing or two from her series of posts (hopefully once a month!) 

Oooh-la-la, I do d’éclair! Is it a fancy no fry crème filled doughnut…or is the doughnut a fat American abomination of this delicate beauty? Eclairs are such a simple dessert but for some reason the dessert gods are out there clouding us in their éclair mystique. While I found this recipe on I compared it to those of Martha Stewart and the CIA cookbook as well as a few others. I find it’s always good to compare recipes because after a while you can see which ones speak to your culinary sensibilities and you can also assess which steps or ingredients might be safely omitted or adjusted. Sometimes you don’t need that extra stick of butter or that extra cup of sugar nor do you need to make an ice bath for such and such. If the final product is high-fivable with friends and your man or lady smacks your bottom and winks while licking pastry cream off their lips, well, I think it’s a success! So grab a few simple things from your general grocer and voila! You will soon earn the rights to draw a skinny, swirled at the ends mustache on your sweaty upper lip while gesturing to be stuck in a giant box.      
Pastry Cream 
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes 
Chill : 1 hour… It won’t be the end of the world as you know it if it doesn’t chill that long. I most certainly didn’t have the patience but for 30 minutes, maybe? 
1 ¼ cups whole milk
3 egg yolks
¼ cup granulated sugar
1/8 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
In a small saucepan, warm the milk over low heat until it is just hot enough to steam. While the milk is warming, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, flour, and cornstarch until the mixture is completely smooth.

Once the milk is steaming, add half of it, whisking constantly, to the egg mixture. Add the milk and eggs back into the hot milk, continue stirring, and heat it for 1-2 minutes, until the custard reaches 170F on a digital thermometer and is very thick. It should be the consistency of pudding. By the time I rummage through my unorganized drawer for a thermometer it would definitely be too late. Remove from the heat, stir in the vanilla extract, and chill before filling pastry.

Pate a Choux (Pastry Dough)
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
½ cup butter
1 cup water
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 eggs

Makes enough dough for 8 medium-sized pastries
In a medium saucepan, melt the butter in the water. Add salt and flour, and stir until a sticky batter is formed. Take the batter off the heat and beat until it cools to about body temperature. Using a stand mixer is ideal. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until the batter is smooth.
Preheat oven to 425F and lightly grease 1 baking sheet. Or just pop a sheet of parchment paper on the baking sheet and you are good to go. Spoon the prepared basic choux pastry dough into a pastry bag fitted with a wide, plain tip and pipe 8 5-inch lengths onto the baking sheet. It can also be spooned directly onto the baking sheet for a more rustic approach especially if your piping skills are lacking. Bake for about 20 minutes, until the éclairs puff up and turn golden brown. Remove them from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes before filling.
Chocolate Glaze
4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped (I prefer Lindt)
1/2 cup heavy cream
Make the chocolate glaze while the éclairs are baking and cooling. Place the chopped chocolate in a heat safe bowl and set aside. Heat the heavy cream just to boiling over low- medium heat and remove from the heat immediately. Pour the hot cream over the chopped chocolate and stir until it forms a thin, smooth consistency. Set the chocolate glaze aside at room temperature for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
To assemble the éclairs:
Fit a pastry bag with a medium-sized plain tip and fill it with vanilla pastry cream. Insert the tip of the bag into the end of an éclair and pipe about 2 1/2 tablespoons of pastry cream into it. Gently spread 1 tablespoon of chocolate glaze onto or carefully dip the top of each filled éclair into the glaze before serving.


  1. Gorgeous photos - they're kind of romantic! And what a nice idea for a Valentine's Day dessert! They sound so good right now!

    I have a few things that I can cook well, and then I'm decent at throwing simple things together, but I would love to learn how to really COOK. It's kind of overwhelming though, I don't even know where to start!

    Happy Valentine's Day!

  2. ok now i am hungry!
    I ll keep saying how beautiful your fotos are!

  3. WOW! Gorgeous photos and great, simple recipe. I am a huge foodie and baker. I will give this a whirl. FUN!

    XOXO! Courtney

  4. Beautiful! And now I'm hungry... thanks for that..

  5. I want one so bad! Thanks for the recipe :)

  6. WOW! I cannot get over how beautiful your photos are. :) so lovely and inspirational.


    Sandra @

  7. So lovely!!

  8. Oh YUM! And what a gorgeous helper you have there.


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