GRAN'S CHOCOLATE ECLAIRES WITH
A HAZELNUT PRALINE TOP
This is my Grandmothers eclair recipe and I've added my own twist to it by dipping them in dark chocolate. I use Wellington Chocolate Factory real trade 70% and then topped them with an almond praline for texture and sweetness.
Makes: x35 5cm long piped éclairs
For the choux pastry
1 cup of water
For the praline (my ratio for praline is equal parts of nuts to sugar)
1 cup unrefined sugar
1 tablespoon water
1 heaped cup (140g) roasted hazelnuts (with as much of the skins removed as you can)
Flaky sea salt
350g dark chocolate (I used Wellington Chocolate Factory 70%)
1 cup cream
1 level tablespoon icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla paste
For the choux pastry
Preheat oven to 200°C Fan bake. Line two baking trays with baking paper and set them aside.
Dice butter into cubes, so that it melts all at the same time, and add to a medium-sized pot with the water. Bring to the boil so that the butter melts and its bubbling. Turn down to medium heat, add the flour and stir quickly with a wooden spoon for about 40-60 seconds until the flour forms a dough and comes away from the sides.
Put the mix into a stand mixer with a paddle attachment and beat with a pinch of salt for about 1-2 minutes to cool the mixture slightly. Add the eggs one at a time beating until well incorporated with each addition. The choux pastry mix should eventually drop from a spoon in a clump rather than easily falling off. That’s the consistency you are looking for.
Use a little of the mix to stick the baking paper down to the tray in each corner. This will help keep the paper in place and not lifting when piping. Tip choux pasty mix into a piping bag or snaplock bag, using about a 1.5cm opening (or a #15 nozzle) and pipe the éclairs into the desired length. Smooth any tips down at the end by wetting your finger and pushing those down.
Bake at 200°C Fan bake for 12 minutes and then reduce oven to 180°C Fan bake and bake for 15-20minutes or puffed and browned. Cut the choux open to release steam and moisture. The inside needs to be dry and hollow. If they are sticky inside they are not quite cooked so put them back in the oven to cook for a further few minutes. When they are done, remove from the oven and using a tea towel to hold, take a serrated bread knife and slice each one open to allow steam to escape. This will help keep them crisp. Set aside.
For the praline
Line a baking tray with paper and spread out your hazelnuts into a little flat pile. Heat the sugar and the water over medium/low heat stirring occasionally until the sugar dissolves completely. I find when using unrefined sugar it needs to be stirred as it doesn’t melt evenly and burns. I’ve tried praline lots before with this sugar not stirring it and this works best for me. It will clump up and look like it's crystallizing but it does eventually melt. Be patient and don’t be tempted to increase the heat (or walk away and do something else) Once it has all melted and it is lump free keeping a close eye on it cooking for a further 1-2 minutes or until it turns dark toffee/amber colour. Don’t let it burn or the praline will taste bitter. Remove and immediately pour over the hazelnuts (it doesn't have to completely cover the nuts, see picture opposite. they will all get blitzed up anyways) Sprinkle over a little flaky sea salt. DO NOT EVER TOUCH THE TOFFEE, IT IS EXTREMELY HOT AND WILL BURN.
Once completely cool and the toffee can snap easily, blitz in a food processor. You want it fine enough so that the toffee breaks up but keeps a little texture. This will keep in the freezer for several months. Use it to top ice cream sundaes or any other desserts.
For the cream
Whip the cream to soft peaks. Add the vanilla paste and icing sugar. Fold through well. Put the cream into a piping or snaplock bag and set it aside.
For the chocolate
1/3 fill a medium-sized pot with water and heat over medium-high heat. Sit a larger bowl on top, not letting the bowl touch the simmering water, and put the chocolate in the bowl to melt. This gently melts the chocolate without burning it. Just let it melt, I find if I stir it can sometimes mess with the melting of it. Once melted, remove from heat.
Dip the tops of the éclairs into the chocolate. I let them sit for about 10 minutes before adding the praline. If the chocolate is too soft the praline just sinks in rather than sitting on top. After 10 minutes – scatter praline over top of each one. Pipe cream into the bottoms of the eclair filling the cases up. Top with a chocolate praline top. Ready to serve! Best eaten within an hour of filling with cream
Note: Choux pasty cases can be made a day ahead. But keep better and will be crisper if they haven’t had chocolate added.