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by Heather Harris-Brady

A few years ago I fixed topped waffles with ice cream for the last day of school breakfast. As anyone with kids knows, you do something once and it’s a hit – you’ve got to keep doing it.

So Friday morning these chocolate eclairs showed up on the breakfast table. Although they are best assembled at most a few hours before eating, you can make the components ahead of time so they easily manageable for brunch. They only take a few minutes to assemble if you have everything ready. Plus, if you’ve made the macarons and saved the yolks this a good way to use them up.

Chocolate Eclairs, Makes about one dozen 6″ eclairs

One batch pate a choux

One cup chocolate ganache

One batch pastry cream, recipe follows

Prepare the pate a choux as directed, piping 6″ long tubular shapes instead of individual puffs. (But you could totally make this recipe as cream puffs if you’d rather.)

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Bake as directed about 25-30 minutes, or until the eclairs are a deep golden brown.

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You will get a taller puff if you just pipe in a thick straight line as opposed to a zigzag shape, just fyi. Let them cool on a rack, then split them and remove any moist interior dough.

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At this point you can freeze them or store them in a ziplock bag until you’re ready to assemble.

Pastry Cream

2 c. milk

1/3 c. sugar

3 T. cornstarch

5 egg yolks, beaten

2 t. vanilla

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1 c. heavy cream

1 envelope unflavored gelatin

2 T. water

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Put the milk a saucepan over medium heat. (If you have a vanilla bean you could just infuse it with the milk and skip adding vanilla.)

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Combine the sugar and cornstarch. Whisk it into the milk. Stir constantly. When the milk starts to thicken, pour about 1/2 c. into the egg yolks. Stir to combine and whisk the mixture into the milk. (If you’d like more details just read this prior post on pudding.)

Whisk until thick. Line a metal pan with plastic wrap and pour the pastry cream into the pan. Cover the surface with another layer of wrap and let cool. Refrigerate until completely cold.

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Not more than a day before assembling the eclairs, dissolve the gelatin in the water and whip the cream to soft peaks. Turn the mixer to high speed and whip in the gelatin. Whip in the cold pastry cream 1/2 c. at a time.

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You’ll end up with this beautiful, glossy, not-too-sweet cream.

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Chill thoroughly.

You can recrisp your shells in the oven at this point if you like.  Just heat the oven to 375 and put them in for 5-10 minutes. Let cool before assembling.

To assemble the eclairs, spread the tops of each pastry with chocolate ganache. Then pipe the pastry cream into the bottoms with the largest star tip you have. Gently place the iced top on each eclair and refrigerate until ready to serve.

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I hope you enjoyed French pastry week! It felt good to have the pastry bag out for a bit, so I’ll be doing this again at some point.

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