Making Chocolate Eclairs on “Schenectady Today”

I will be making my Chocolate Éclairs on Ann Parillo’s long time TV show “Schenectady Today” next Tuesday, January 10th at 10AM on public access. I am very excited to be back on Ann’s show. Ann is so easy to talk to and so knowledgeable on many subjects that she makes it so much fun to be a guest on her show! I should know because this will be my 3rd appearance.

I will be demonstrating a recipe from my new book “Baking With Success” which will be out shortly. Chocolate Éclairs are so much fun to make and so easy that I am hoping that Ann, herself, will agree to be my sous chef for the segment.

Éclairs are made from a pâte à choux dough that means “cabbage paste” in French. And no, there is NO CABBAGE in the dough. I knew you would ask that. Little cream puffs, made from “pâte à choux” dough are roundish in shape and look like little cabbages. Hence, the name.

The dough is made completely on top of the stove in a saucepan. That’s right. Just one saucepan and only a few ingredients. So simple. Once the dough is made you can do many things with it — éclairs like I will be making, cream puffs or smaller rounds known as “profiteroles”. You can even take a savory route and add cheese and other ingredients and make such creations as cheese puffs.

The key to GREAT pastries made with pâte à choux is having enough water and eggs within the dough. Since there are no chemical leaveners like baking powder or baking soda in the dough, steam, a most powerful leavener, takes over to create light, airy puffs.

To make the dough, water and butter are brought to a boil in a saucepan. Then flour is added and cooked for just a minute or so to cook off the starchy taste from the flour. Then the mixture is taken off the stove where eggs are added, one at a time, incorporating each one before adding the next. The dough should hold its’ shape and look silky from the yolks of the eggs.

Next, the dough is piped out from a pastry bag. Since I am making éclairs, I will pipe the dough into 2-3 inch lengths onto a sheet pan. They are then baked until they are brown and crispy.

The magic happens in the oven. The heat of the oven forms lots of steam and helps the puffs to rise. Eggs are, also, great leavening agents and will add to that rise. The egg proteins burst inside the puff creating a space within. It is this space that can be filled with custard, whipped cream, ice cream or savory fillings like egg salad, or even a cream cheese and salmon mixture to be served as an appetizer. The possibilities are endless.

On the show I will inject the èclairs with vanilla custard and dip the tops in ganache. Yummy!!!

Please join me and watch the show on Tuesday. Look out Ann, here I come!

Happy Baking!

Chef Gail