Have you ever had the holiday blues? The emotional comedown, or should we say fall down, after one great big adventure. It’s a cantankerous trickster really, this simple notion of anticlimax. In fact, if you do not keep your wits about you Dear Traveler, he will con you out of all your holiday euphoria. He will steal those Irish sunsets and leave in their place packed school lunches. He will replace the happy London buzz with an in-the-middle-of-the-store- tantrum throwing three year old, and he may even trade your evening walks along the Seine for lift club. Yes, lift club!
Take heart Dear Traveler because there is one simple way to banish the holiday blues: Bake. Bake as if your life depended on it, and then bake some more. And if at all possible bake some Chocolate Éclairs.
They will remind you of that day in Paris when you visited Maison du Chocolat on Rue Madeleine. You will remember the shop assistants in their smart black suits, who made you feel so unkempt because they were so immaculate in beauty and effortless in elegance by comparison. You will warm as you remember how they walked gracefully on neat black heels around a store that smelled of happiness and warmth and surprise. You will remember the chocolate éclairs lined up in neat little rows in the shop window, beautiful and regal on tiny silver trays.
And you will smile, and all will be right with the world.
85 g butter
250 ml flour
1 ml salt
250 ml water
125 ml sugar
250 ml cream
200 g dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
500 ml milk
1 vanilla pod, sliced in half (or 1 tsp. vanilla essence)
35 g flour
35 g corn flour
2 egg yolks
150 g sugar
125 ml cream
- First make the profiteroles.
- Place water and butter in a saucepan over medium heat.
- Cook until butter melts and the mixture just comes to the boil.
- Add all the flour to the butter mixture at once.
- Use a wooden spoon to beat until well combined.
- Return to the stove over a low heat and bring the mixture into a ball, this will happened over a few minutes as the mixture begins to come away from the side of the saucepan.
- Continue rolling the dough around the saucepan for a few minutes until it is smooth and takes on a slight shine.
- Set aside for 5 minutes to cool slightly.
- Place the dough into a mixer.
- Mix the eggs together and pour into the dough while the mixer is running.
- Beat the dough until it shines. The dough will be a pipe able consistency.
- Line a baking tray with baking paper.
- Either spoon teaspoonfuls of the mixture onto tray, about 3cm apart or use a pastry bag fitted with a plain piping nozzle to pipe even sized logs onto the baking tray.
- Dip your finger in a little water and tap done the tips of the dough.
- Bake in preheated oven at 200˚C for 25 minutes or until the profiteroles are puffed and golden.
- As they come out the oven, pierce the side or bottom of each profiterole to release the steam.
- Allow to cool completely on a cooling rack.
- Next make the chocolate glaze.
- Heat the cream and the sugar in a saucepan until the sugar dissolves in the cream.
- Break the chocolate chunks into a bowl and pour over the hot cream.
- Allow to stand for a minute or two and then whisk until well blended.
- Set aside and whisk occasionally until it thickens enough to hold a coat on the profiterole.
- Do not place the chocolate in the fridge or it will lose its gloss.
- Finally, make the crème patisserie place the milk in a saucepan, scrape in the vanilla seeds and drop in the vanilla pod. Heat to just boiling.
- In a bowl place the flour, corn flour, eggs and egg yolks and whisk well.
- Pour the hot milk over the egg mixture and whisk to mix into custard.
- Strain the custard back into the pot and whisk continuously over a medium heat until thickened.
- Cook for a few minutes more before whisking in the cream.
- Allow to cool.
- Softened the crème patisseries with a little extra milk, or simply whizz a hand blender through the custard which is what I do.
- Place the custard into a piping bag.
- Slice the profiteroles or make a small hole into the bottom and fill each profiterole with custard.
- Dip each profiterole into the glaze and allow to set for a few minutes.
- Before serving, stand back and take a moment to admire your work, maybe even eat a profiterole all by yourself.
Some things to remember when making choux puffs:
- They are not as tricky as you think, start with confidence.
- You must absolutely must, must, measure everything very accurately.
- If the dough does not shine you may be heading towards disaster. See point above.
- Start by focusing on getting the texture right, then aim for photo worthy, really your family wont mind the former.
- If you do need to make many, the baked profiteroles can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days and if they do get soft, place them in a warm oven for a few moments to dry them out.