Raymond Blanc's recipe for chocolate √©clairs is full of tips and advice, including how to free
Price: Bon marchť
preps: 45 minutes
cooking: 45 minutes
temperature: 170 Celcius
Step - 1 | Before you start
1 - Preheat the oven to 170C/325F/Gas 3.
Step - 2 | Choux pastry
1 - Place the water, milk, butter, sugar and salt in a medium saucepan over a high heat and bring the mixture to a boil.
2 - Remove the pan from the heat and, using a wooden spoon, quickly beat in the flour until the mixture is completely smooth.
3 - Turn the heat down to medium, return the pan to the hob and cook for about one minute, beating all the time, or until the mixture comes away from the edge of the pan.
4 - Remove the pan from the heat and gradually beat in the eggs until you have a smooth, dropping consistency. (You are looking for the mixture to just drop from the spoon, not run off it; you may not need all of the egg to reach this stage. )
5 - Transfer the paste to a large piping bag fitted with a 1.5cm¬Ĺ in fluted nozzle and let the mixture to cool for about five minutes in the bag to stiffen slightly before you begin the piping.
6 - Line a large baking tray with greaseproof paper and pipe on 12 √©clairs, each about 15cm/6in long. Alternatively, for a more professional and uniform finish, pipe four rows of pastry, each about 36cm/14in long, onto a non-stick tray and freeze. Cut the frozen strips into three and either defrost and cook as below, or bake from frozen and add five minutes to the cooking time.
7 - Bake the √©clairs in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes or until golden-brown, then transfer to a rack and leave to cool.
Step - 3 | The filling
1 - Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water. Do not let the bottom of the bowl touch the water or the chocolate will burn.
2 - Pour the melted chocolate into the pastry cream, mix in the cocoa powder and whisk together to a smooth consistency. You could chill the mixture at this point for 30 minutes, then whisk again before you fill the √©clairs, to give a creamier mouth-feel to the filling.
3 - When you are ready to fill the √©clairs, transfer the filling to a piping bag fitted with a 0.5cm/¬ľin nozzle. Pierce the underside of each √©clair four times with the tip of the nozzle, gently squirting a little of the filling into the √©clair as you do so.
4 - or the glaze, gently warm the fondant in a small pan over a low heat until it reaches body temperature.
5 - Stir in the cocoa powder and enough of the water to make a smooth paste, then transfer to a piping bag fitted with a 1.5cm/¬Ĺin nozzle.
6 - Pipe the glaze onto the top of each √©clair, removing any excess with the back of your finger, then place in the fridge for the glaze to set before serving.
The √©clair cases can be baked in advance and frozen. Defrost for one hour then fill them with the pastry cream. Alternatively, you could freeze the √©clairs uncooked and cook them straight from the freezer when required, in which case add five minutes to the cooking time. The pastry cream (or cr√®me patissi√®re) can be made up to three days in advance and stored in the fridge. Alternatively flavour the pastry cream with coffee or vanilla extract instead of chocolate and do not add the co