Chocolate Eclairs with Dulce de Leche Cream and Strawberries
During our trip to France last summer every day my wife and I would gawk at the pastries in shop windows. They seemed to be endless in variety and each one looked absolutely perfect. We treated ourselves to plenty of them (including one at 10 AM before leaving for the airport on our last day) because it certainly isn’t something we would make at home…right? Well it turns out making eclairs at home isn’t all that complicated. I’m still figuring out if having this knowledge is a good or a bad thing.
There is no question this is one of the best desserts I’ve ever made. The tops are dipped in chocolate ganache while the bottom half holds a hefty serving of dulce de leche cream. The strawberries add extra sweetness (as if it needed more) and a nice cool and contrasting texture to the melt-in-your-mouth smoothness of the pastry cream and choux pastry. Another perk of making these was it finally gave me an excuse to buy pastry decorating tips. You can keep each component separate so that you prepare them fresh as you eat them, eclairs on demand!
Long time readers may recall some of the Valentine’s Day desserts I’ve made in the past including apple roses, Nutella rose bread, macaron and chocolate croissants. I considered making the dulce de leche croquembouche (basically a cream puff tower) made by Ansh of Spice Roots but decided that for just two of us a several foot tall pastry tower was a bit much. But I had cream puffs and dulce de leche on my mind, so these eclairs were a more approachable solution.
The ingredient list and length of the directions may seem intimidating at first but I promise that it is easy to manage and surprisingly quick. From start to finish I took just over an hour and much of that time was spent waiting for the freshly baked pastry to cool. The pâte à choux (the name for the dough) is prepared in just a few minutes and while it bakes you can make the whipped cream and chocolate ganache.
The choux pastry bakes quickly and is hollow inside. I decided to slice it open so I could put in the strawberries but if you just want to use cream you can keep it whole. This is the more traditional way to make and fill eclairs. If you’d like to do this just stick the piping tip in through the bottom (towards the side) and pipe a bit of cream. Then repeat this on the opposite side, until cream starts to push out of the first hole. This will be your clue that the eclair has been filled.
I had so much fun putting these together and they were even more fun to eat. I made 8 for the two of us and within just a few days they were gone. The amounts for the whipped cream made more than we needed, so if you don’t want extra (why wouldn’t you?!) then you may want to scale back that part of the recipe a bit. We had the rest with other fruit and my wife put some in her morning coffee. For a few days I topped my breakfast bowl of cheerios with a little bit of the whipped cream and I promise you, this will revolutionize your breakfast (certainly much more than Gatorade ever will). Enjoy the eclairs!
Chocolate Eclairs with Dulce de Leche Cream and Strawberries (Makes 8)
- 4 T butter, room temperature
- ½ C water
- ½ C AP flour
- ½ tsp sugar
- ¼ tsp salt
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 C heave whipping cream
- ½ C dulce de leche
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 2 oz semisweet chocolate chips/chunks
- ¼ C heavy whipping cream
- Preheat the oven to 400 F and prepare a baking sheet by lining it with a baking mat or parchment paper. Place the butter and water in a small saucepan over medium high heat; bring to a boil. Make sure the butter is completely melted before the water boils.
- Remove it from the heat and add the flour, sugar, and salt. Stir until combined using a wooden spoon.
- Return the saucepan back to the heat, and keep stirring until the dough comes away from the sides of the pan and forms a thick smooth ball. This should take about 1 to 1½ minutes.
- Transfer the dough to a mixing bowl and stir it to release the steam from the dough. When the dough is lukewarm, mix in the eggs until you have a smooth, thick paste. The dough will separate but will come together to form a thick paste. The dough should fall from the spoon in a thick ribbon.
- Place the dough in a pastry bag and pipe strips of dough onto the baking sheet. If you don't have pastry bags then you can cut the corner off a plastic storage bag to make one. Pipe the dough about 6 inches long and ½ inch wide. Keep at least 1 inch of space between strips of dough.
- Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 350 F. Continue to bake for another 20-25 minutes, or until the shells are a golden brown. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk attachment (or using a hand mixer), beat the cream until soft peaks form. Mix in the dulce de leche, and beat until the cream holds stiff peaks.
- Add more dulce de leche if you want a stronger flavor. Mix in the vanilla and stir until just combined. Refrigerate until ready to use.
- Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl. In a small saucepan over medium heat, heat the cream until just boiling and pour it over the chocolate. Gently stir until the chocolate is melted.
- Split the pastry shells in half, lengthwise. Take the top shell and dip it into the ganache, and place on a cooling rack so that the excess drips off and the shell dries. At this point shells may be stored in the refrigerator for up to one week until ready to serve.
- When ready, pipe desired amount of cream into the bottom half of the pastry shell. Add strawberry slices, then place chocolate glazed shell on top.
Recipe courtesy of grace(full) eats.