Serves: Makes 20 éclairs
- 1 recipe Spiced Pâte à Choux
- 1 recipe Dulce de Leche Pastry
- 1 large egg
- 4 ounces good-quality milk chocolate, finely chopped
- ½ cup (4 ounces) heavy whipping cream
- Preheat the oven to 400°F and position two racks in the top and lower thirds of the oven. To make the templates, line the baking sheets with parchment paper, then remove the paper and use the ruler as a guide to draw twenty 4 by 1-inch rectangles with a pencil, dividing and spacing them evenly between the sheets. Turn the pieces of parchment paper over and return them to the baking sheets with the marks facing the sheets.
- Pipe the Pâte à Choux: Spoon the dough into the pastry bag fitted with the ½-inch plain round tip. Pipe the dough into ½-inch-high rectangles to fill each template. (To stop the flow of dough from the pastry bag and disconnect it from the piped dough, slice a lightly oiled dinner knife across the opening of the tip.)
- Glaze and bake the p‰te ˆ choux: In a small bowl, lightly beat the egg to blend thoroughly. Brush a light coating of egg over the tops of the piped dough, being careful that the egg does not drip down the sides (it will glue the éclairs to the parchment). You will not use all the egg. Bake both sheets of the éclairs for 20 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 350°F, switch the sheets between the racks, rotate the pans from front to back, and bake for 20 minutes longer. Reduce the temperature again, to 300°F, and bake 10 to 15 minutes longer (to dry out the interior). The éclairs should be a deep golden brown, with no more bubbling moisture visible around the sides. Transfer the éclairs to a rack to cool completely.
- Fill the éclairs: Spoon the pastry cream into the cleaned and dried pastry bag fitted with the Bismarck or ¼-inch plain tip. If using the Bismark tip, first make a little hole in one of the short ends of the éclair with the tip of a paring knife. Then, insert the end of the Bismark into the éclair as far as it will go. Squeeze firmly as you slowly pull the tip out of the pastry, filling the cavity with the pastry cream. If using the plain tip, make two evenly spaced small holes in the bottom of an éclair with the tip of a paring knife. Insert the plain tip into each one, squeezing firmly to fill the center of the pastry. Repeat to fill the remaining éclairs.
- Make the glaze: Place the chocolate in a small bowl (which should be just large enough to accommodate an éclair, which is about 4 inches long). Bring the cream to a boil in the small saucepan. Immediately pour it over the chocolate and let the mixture sit for 1 minute. Whisk until the mixture is completely blended and smooth. Cool for 10 minutes.
- Glaze the éclairs: Turn the éclairs upside down, dip the top of each one halfway into the chocolate glaze, then lift it and let the excess glaze drip back into the bowl. Set right side up on a serving platter or parchment-lined baking sheet and allow 30 minutes for the glaze to set. Refrigerate until serving time. Reserve any leftover milk chocolate glaze for another use.
- ƒclairs are best when served the same day they are filled, and are good with a strong cup of coffee or tea. If you can find the long, thin pleated paper cups used to serve éclairs in bakeries (available in cake decorating shops), set an éclair in each one. Otherwise, serve them as they are, singly on small plates or all together on a platter for guests to help themselves.
Storing: You can store éclairs in the refrigerator, covered with plastic wrap, for up to 3 days. However, they are at their best the same day they are filled, as the pastry absorbs moisture from the pastry cream and eventually becomes soggy.