Éclairs are a great thing to have in your repertoire. When the times comes to fill them with cream, the trick is that rather than slicing the éclairs open or putting holes in the base, you fill them from the top. This way, the coffee icing seals in the filling, so that when you bite into an éclair, the cream doesn’t shoot out of the other end.
For the eclairs
100g cold butter, diced small
1 tsp caster sugar
pinch of salt
150g strong flour
For the vanilla cream
1.2 litres double cream
2 vanilla pods, split and seeds removed
For the coffee icing
350g fondant icing sugar
3 tbsp water
2 tbsp Camp coffee essence
MethodFirst make the eclairs
- Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas mark 4 and line a baking sheet with silicone paper.
- Pour the water into a pan and add the butter, sugar and pinch of salt. Bring to the boil slowly and boil for 1 minute. Add the flour in one go.
- Cook for a few minutes, beating all the time, until the mixture comes away from the sides of the pan cleanly and is smooth. Tip out onto a silicone-lined tray and leave to cool for 5 minutes.
- Transfer the cooled mixture to a kitchen mixer or large bowl and beat in the eggs, one at a time, then continue to beat until the mixture is smooth and shiny, about 2 more minutes.
- Spoon the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a large, plain nozzle, then pipe 10cm-long éclair shapes onto the prepared baking sheet. Smooth out any bumps with the tip of a wet finger. (See also page 38.)
- Bake in the oven for 25 – 30 minutes until golden brown and crisp.
- Remove from the oven and transfer the éclairs from the baking tray to a wire rack to cool.
Then the filling:
- Turn the oven up to 220°C/425°F/Gas mark 7 and grease a baking tray.
- For the vanilla cream, pour the cream into a large bowl, add the vanilla seeds and whip to soft peaks.
- To make the coffee icing, sift the icing sugar into a large bowl, add the water and coffee essence and whisk together.
- Using the tip of a sharp knife, pierce a hole in the rounded end of each éclair. Place the éclairs on their sides and return to the oven for a further 5 minutes so that they become dry and crisp. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.
- To serve, transfer the vanilla cream to a piping bag fitted with a 6mm plain nozzle. Pipe the cream into the éclairs through the hole. Dip them into the icing to cover the top evenly. Leave on the wire rack until the icing is set.