Eclairs are made from Choux (shoo) pastry and are not the easiest thing in the world to make, do not keep well unless you freeze them but, taste amazing! You will need to start these early because the pastry needs to cool down half way through. Trust me, though – the wait will be worth it! Maybe you could make some for Mothering Sunday (here in the UK it is 15th March) or afternoon tea with a friend or two.
Oven 220 C, 425 F, Gas mark 7, put a dish of water in the base of the oven and grease a baking sheet or line it with baking parchment, then run under the tap to leave a film of water on the sheet.
Make your Choux pastry :
2 oz butter
1/4 pint water
4 oz plain flour
3 medium eggs lightly beaten
Put the butter and water in a pan and over a gentle heat bring to the boil. Make sure the water is boiling before adding the flour. Remove from the heat and shoot the flour into the pan and stir thoroughly. Return to the hob and stir until the mixture forms a ball. Transfer to a bowl and leave to cool before adding the eggs otherwise you could end up with a lump of pastry and scrambled egg! When cool add the beaten egg a little at a time, beating or whisking thoroughly.
Now you are ready to pipe. Place your pastry into a piping bag with a half inch nozzle and pipe 3 inch lengths onto your baking sheet, using a knife to cut off the pastry and the end of each eclair.
Bake for about 20 mins until risen and light brown in colour. Immediately make a slit down one side of each eclair and pop back in the oven for one minute. Then place on a cooling rack.
Whip 1/4 pint of whipping or double cream and add a few drops of vanilla essence and two tablespoons of icing sugar. Pipe this cream into each eclair. For the chocolate topping I used Cadbury’s milk just melted but you can use chocolate glace icing if you want. This should make about 18 eclairs and you can freeze them (without cream or icing) on the day if you are not wanting to use them all. If frozen just refresh them in the oven slightly before filling and decorating.