Most of my best friends have birthdays between January and April, and that means one thing for me: more time in the kitchen. Last year, instead of gifts, I offered to make each of my friends a dessert of their choosing on their birthday. Last year’s requested desserts included birthday-cake-flavored cinnamon rolls, chocolate cupcakes with creamy peanut butter frosting, and chocolate and butterscotch chip cookies.
My friend Nicole’s birthday is today. The dessert she requested? Chocolate eclairs. For the record, I don’t have a big sweet tooth. Or any sweet tooth at all, really. I’ll bake all day but I’m not wild about eating sugar-y things. At restaurants I always choose an extra appetizer over dessert. It’s weird, I know. But even I can’t resist a good eclair. I can even remember a time during my childhood when there was always a box of frozen eclairs in the freezer. (Side note: eclairs are delicious at any temperature, but they are especially delightful when they’re frozen.)
However, despite my love for eclairs, I was, admittedly, a little afraid to make them myself. After scouring the internet for recipes, I chose this recipe. The recipe is well-written and clear, but the dessert itself is intimidating. Eclairs have three components: custard, pâte à choux dough and chocolate glaze. The former two seemed easy to botch, so naturally I was nervous as I began cooking.
My favorite part of an eclair is the filling, which is usually a custard or whipped cream. I made the custard the night before tackling the dough and assembling the eclairs. It was a wise decision – I found the custard to be the most time-consuming aspect of the whole affair.
I was so proud when I finished making the custard!
To my great surprise, the pâte à choux dough came together the quickest. But that’s the trick: you have to be quick. Note: The recipe says to use three eggs in the dough, but I used four, with great success.
Funnily enough, the baking eclairs look a bit like breadsticks. Also, I should note that the recipe advises against opening the oven door too often. It was a challenge, but you have to trust your oven and the recipe on this one.
The naked, unfilled eclairs certainly weren’t the prettiest things I’ve ever seen. I think decreasing the cooking time might improve the appearance of the shells.
Without a doubt, making the chocolate glaze was the easiest part!
I think the key to this recipe is timing and preparation: I measured all of my ingredients before I began cooking and I had my supplies at the ready during the process.
The finished product was a success! The verdict? Making eclairs wasn’t nearly as difficult or time-consuming as I had originally thought. I think that’s the thing about cooking: most people think that it takes so much more time and effort to make something from scratch, so they frequent the frozen section instead. In the end, though, cooking isn’t so very hard, and the final product is so worth it.