Remember the coffee eclairs Gary and George made in series 1 of Masterchef Australia? Here they are! My attempt, except with chocolate instead of coffee fondant. I've been thinking about making these eclairs ever since they appeared on TV about a year ago. I don't really know why it's taken me so long, seeing as their actually pretty simple to make. The fiddly bit is putting them together I think.
I did have a couple of issues though. I wanted to have that really glossy dipped fondant topping, but tried to achieve this using marshmallow fondant, which was ok, but wasn't glossy, and tasted overwhelmingly of marshmallow (which Nooboy assured me was still delicious). I quickly switched to chocolate. Also, the first batch I baked came out rather tiny, so I then proceeded to pipe the remaining choux batter without a tip, using the coupler by itself. All in all, not a bad attempt, if I may say so myself.
Chocolate Eclairs (adapted from the Masterchef kitchen)
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp salt
265g flour (plain/allpurpose, sifted)
8 large eggs (59g)
For the choux pastry, place the milk, water, sugar, salt and butter into a medium-large saucepan. Bring this mixture to the boil. When the milk is boiling, butter is melted and salt and sugar has dissolved, add the flour. No need to be delicate here, just dump the whole lot in and beat the heck out of it with a wooden spoon. You need to cook this mixture until it is a cohesive, springy 'dough'. You need to wait until the mixture is coming together and away from the sides of the pan when as you mix. The 'dough' will take on a slight gleam on the smooth surfaces as well.
At this stage, tip it all into a bowl and beat it a little to knock out some of the heat. This step isn't included in all choux recipes, but it makes it less frantic when you start to add the eggs. If you beat some of the heat out of the batter before adding the eggs, they are far less likely to scramble.
Add the eggs two at a time, beating to incorporate completely before the next addition (here's some arm exercise for you, perfect for working off a little of the calories soon to be consumed). Once all the eggs have been added, piped onto lined baking trays, spacing them out as they will puff up to at least twice their size. I used a non-stick cookie sheet and didn't even bother to line it - they turned out fine.
Baked in a hot oven preheated to 210-220°C for about ten minutes to puff up then turn the oven down to 180°C to dry a little. This is not really exact, just wait until the eclairs are puffed before turning down the oven. They should have a total oven time of about 20-25 minutes. Try not to open the oven while they are in there, as this can affect the puffing.
Cool completely on wire racks before filling.
Vanilla Cream Filling
600ml whipping cream (35-40% milk fat)
1/3cup icing sugar
1tsp vanilla paste, or the seeds scraped from one vanilla pod (add the leftover pod to a jar of caster sugar to make vanilla sugar)
Whipped the cream with the sugar and vanilla until firm peaks.
Poke a hole in the end of each cooled eclair with a pastry tip (I, Asian that I am, used a chopstick for this). Pipe the cream into it. You can feel the weight of the cream go through the eclair as you pipe. I found that for a couple of them I had to poke a hole in both ends of the eclair, or use my chopstick or finger to make sure that there were no obstructions in the center cavity in order for the cream to fill the entire eclair. Use whichever method you are comfortable with.
Melt the chocolate and butter together in a double boiler until smooth and glossy. Alternatively just give it short bursts in the microwave, stirring each time it comes out, until it reached that smooth consistency. Dip each filled eclair into the chocolate and let set. If you want, pipe something pretty onto it with some melted white chocolate.
The recipe is not actually published in the recipe section of the Masterchef website. However, the video of the making of them can still be found in the video section (Videos > Relive Masterchef Series 1 > Recipes Series 1). I found the video to be quite helpful, especially with showing how much you need to cook the choux before it comes off the stove. The video also shows you how to create the original coffee fondant topping.