Friday, June 22, 2012

National Chocolate Éclair Day - 2012


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By Chef Diane

I have a wonderful Uncle Jack, but, he isn't really my uncle.  He is a friend of my father's, and has known him since before I was born, so I call him uncle.   Every time he came to visit, I would make him Chocolate Éclairs.  He always made such a fuss over them, eat them all day long, and wouldn't share with anyone.  These days, the only time I fix them is when he comes for a visit.  I have given his wife the recipe a few times, but she still hasn't made any for him.  They should really complicated and exotic to make, but actually they are really quite easy.  In fact, last year when I went to his home, we made a batch together and they turned out great.

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You don't need any special tools to make them yourself.  They may not look quite like the ones from the bakery, but they will taste heavenly all same.

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The word comes from French éclair 'flash of lightning.'  They probably got that name because when you eat them, they will be gone in a flash!  The éclair probably originated in France during the nineteenth century. It is a popular type of cake served all over the world. The word is first attested both in English and in French in the 1860s.  In some parts of the United States, Long Johns are marketed under the name éclairs, though the two are not identical. A Long John uses donut pastry and is typically filled with vanilla pudding or custard, making it a simpler and inexpensive alternative to the éclair.   The French call the dough of these treats “choux,” which is carefully baked to allow for a hollow interior. Then cream, custard, or purée is piped into its center and it is topped off with fondant icing.

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Today is National Chocolate Éclair Day.  Below is the recipe I have used for  years, and it never fails.  If you don't have time to bake your own, head to your nearest bakery and pick up some for dessert, or breakfast, or any time of the day.

Éclairs:

Shell:
1 stick butter (real butter)
1 cup water
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 eggs

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Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a medium saucepan bring water and butter to full boil. Remove from heat. Add flour and mix well and let cool slightly. Add eggs one at a time mixing well after each egg. Spoon mixture in the shape of a finger onto a cookie sheet. Remember they will double in size so keep that in mind as you spread them out. Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 325 and bake another 45 minutes. Allow to cool.

Filling:
Some people like a cream type filling, I prefer pudding. Since it is a French dessert, I use French Vanilla instant pudding, but regular vanilla is just as good too. Mix according to directions and let sit in refrigerator while éclair shells are baking. When cooked, take the shell, cut a slit down the side with a sharp knife and spoon the pudding in.

Chocolate Glaze
2 1oz squares of unsweetened chocolate
2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons milk

Directions:

Melt Chocolate and butter in saucepan over low heat, removed and stir in sugar and milk. Mix well until smooth and drizzle over éclairs immediately, it sets up pretty fast.

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