Miniature Eclairs

by Alexis on December 23, 2013

This is our first holiday season as a family of three, so we’re thinking a lot about traditions in our house. As a kid, breakfast while opening presents on Christmas morning was a big deal. Every year we looked forward to the same breakfast: cornflake sundaes—made with cornflakes, ice cream, and raspberries. While these decadent bowls are still a favorite when we go back home, the tradition we’re establishing in our house is a batch of mini éclairs, which were featured in last year’s Anthology gift guide.

The recipe is deceptively easy and the components can be made in advance for easy assembly in the morning so as not to delay getting to the under-the-tree excitement. You can also simplify it further by using just whipped cream as the filling, and the batch doubles well if you have a bigger crowd. But there’s something about homemade éclairs that just feels special. And if you’re looking for other delicious brunch options, you could try the savory bread pudding, the potato stacks, or the show-stopping fig and goat cheese crepe cake from the same story.

Miniature Éclairs
Makes 18 éclairs

Note: Steps 1-10 can be prepared a day in advance.

For the pastries

  • 2/3 cup whole milk
  • 6 tbsp salted butter
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp sugar
  • ½ cup + 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 3 large eggs

For the cream filling

  • 1 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup heavy cream

For the chocolate ganache

  • 6 oz bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp salted butter
  1. For pastries: Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium saucepan, bring milk, butter, salt, and sugar just to a boil over medium-high heat. Remove from heat and add flour while stirring vigorously. Once flour is well incorporated, return saucepan to medium heat and stir continuously until dough pulls away from the sides of the pan and forms a ball, about 30 seconds to 1 minute.
  3. Transfer dough to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium for about 1 minute. Add eggs one at a time, beating on medium to incorporate.
  4. Scoop tbsp-sized balls of dough on the baking sheet a few inches apart. With a wet finger, smooth out any points on the dough.
  5. Bake until the puffs are well browned, about 45 minutes. Let cool completely on wire racks before filling.
  6. For filling: In a medium saucepan, bring 1 cup of milk, sugar, and salt to a simmer over medium heat. Once simmering, remove from heat.
  7. In a small bowl, whisk together remaining ⅓ cup of milk and cornstarch until cornstarch is dissolved. Add eggs and whisk until smooth.
  8. Temper egg mixture by slowly whisking about half of the warm milk mixture into the egg mixture. Strain the egg mixture with a fine sieve and slowly whisk it back into the saucepan with remaining milk mixture.
  9. Return the egg and milk mixture to medium heat and continue whisking until it thickens and just comes to a boil, about 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat immediately and quickly transfer to a bowl. Stir in vanilla.
  10. With electric mixer in a large mixing bowl, whip cream on medium high until it holds soft peaks. Fold about one quarter of the whipped cream into the still warm custard until well incorporated. Cool to room temperature then fold in remaining whipped cream. Cover with plastic wrap directly on the surface of the custard and refrigerate at least 1 hour or as long as overnight.
  11. For chocolate ganache: When ready to assemble your éclairs, melt chocolate and butter together over a double boiler or in a microwave on low heat, stirring until smooth.
  12. To assemble: Fit a pastry bag or plastic bag with a medium round tip or bismark pastry tip and fill the bag with cream filling. Push the tip into the side of an éclair and pipe the cream in. Continue until all the éclairs are filled. One at a time, dip the tops of the éclairs into the room temperature ganache. Chill in the refrigerator about 15 minutes to allow ganache to set. Serve immediately or refrigerate and serve within a few hours.

{ Photos by Marvin Ilasco for Anthology Magazine }

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