I guess technically these are just the 'puffs' since I don't fill them with cream. I also don't think I can call them eclairs because I never make them in a log shape- too much work-I've tried. Either way they are fantastic. These are definitely a treat. I enjoy making them for guests. I have also made them extra tiny (reduced baking time) and brought them to a bridal shower where they were a big hit. I used to put chocolate buttercream frosting on top, but I found I prefer them with a nice rich, chocolate sauce. (I've also found if I don't feel like making the chocolate sauce, or don't have any on hand, Nutella works great!) I often make the custard after making a batch of granola since I use 4 egg whites for that recipe. I usually double the custard to have enough to happily fill all the puffs (and to have enough for me to sample along the way!).
Cream Puffs (recipe from Better Homes and Gardens cookbook)
These are one of Kenneth’s mom’s specialties. She supplied these for one of the local bakeries for years when Kenneth was growing up. The custard that goes inside is luscious. I could get lost in a spoonful- yum! Yes, I enjoy a few spoons when it is still warm.
1 cup water
½ cup butter
1/8 tsp salt
1 cup all-purpose flour (make sure you have this all measured out next to you ready to go)
In a medium saucepan combine water, butter, and salt. Bring to boiling. Add flour all at once, stirring vigorously. (Don't be nervous! Just move fast. I remember being terrified the first time I made these!) Cook and stir until mixture forms a ball. Remove from heat. Cool for 10 minutes. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.
Drop 12 heaping tablespoons of dough onto a greased baking sheet. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 30-35 minutes or until golden. Transfer cream puffs to a wire rack; cool.
Cut tops from puffs; remove soft dough from inside (I never do this). When ready to serve, fill with custard and top with chocolate sauce. Store any unfilled cream puffs on the counter covered with a cloth.
2 Tbsp butter
¼ cup corn starch
¾ cup sugar
½ tsp salt
2 cups milk
2 egg yolks, slightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla
In medium saucepan melt butter. Stir in cornstarch, sugar and salt. Gradually add milk. Heat to boiling over low heat. Stir in gradually hot mixture into egg yolks. Continue to do so until eggs are the same temperature as the hot mixture and then combine. Return to low heat and cook 2 minutes stirring constantly. Add vanilla. Pour into dessert cups, cover and refrigerate until cold. (Or pour into a container and cool on the counter for a while and then refrigerate.) When custard is cool and you are ready to fill your cream puffs remove from refrigerator and do so. (The cream puffs will get soggy if filling sits in them for too long)
This recipe came from a great friend of ours when we lived in Potsdam, NY. It really is just like Hershey's Chocolate syrup, only better because you made it yourself! It keeps in the refrigerator for a very long time- like months! (Never actually tested it to see exactly how long- let's just say I've never had any go bad- I don't think it can, really) This makes about a pint and a half or so, so if you don't want that much in your refrigerator, I would cut the recipe down.
In a large saucepan, combine:
1 1/3 cup cocoa
2 1/4 cup sugar
Gradually stir in:
1 1/3 cup boiling water
Cook stirring frequently, over medium heat until smooth and slightly thickened, about 10 minutes.
Add 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla.