Helena Dix’s Confectioners’ Custard-Stuffed Eclairs
I basically grew up in the back of a kitchen. My mother is a dessert chef. She owned a restaurant in Australia and, as a single parent, she would often bring me along to work with her and I would have to sit out the back and watch her kitchen make their magic. Her speciality was the cake display and I would often watch people salivate just at the visual delights of her cakes. The eclairs, however, were never sold at the business. Instead these were saved for very special occasions. My mum’s cooking brought everyone together. At age 11 I became an auntie for the first time, and 6 nephews and nieces later they would all line up on my mum’s kitchen bench and watch her cook something amazing. I will never forget watching them all chant and sing when my mum would get something out of the fridge they loved. There are not many things in the world that can silence my family, but these eclairs are one. I loved the silence that used to come across the table after everyone would scramble to find the biggest one on the serving platter. My niece liked to take hers apart, eating the bottom custard part first, then licking the cream off the top bit and saving the chocolate for last. My brother would eat the top first so he could get rid of the chocolate and indulge on the bottom half. And me? I just ate mine as a whole and used to enjoy the magic of the silence, my taste buds dancing with delight. As an adult, I LOVE this recipe. I can cook it anywhere in the world with very few tools and it always reminds me of my mum, family and togetherness. That is what food is to me!
Choux Pastry Shell
Cup boiling water
5oz plain flour
Extra knob butter
Preheat oven to 220 degrees Celsius.
Add the 2oz of butter and cup of boiling water to a saucepan and bring to a light simmer until the butter has melted.
Take off the heat and stir in the flour until you have a ball of dough.
Remove the ball from the saucepan, making sure that the mixture is shiny but firm, and then roll into a ball and leave to cool.
Beat the eggs in a large mixing bowl and then add the dough ball and beat for a while (around 5 mins). You want the mixture to be smooth and slightly shiny.
Rub a baking tray with a little butter.
Use a tablespoon to heap portions on to the tray (you should get about 10cm from this mix depending on how big you want them). Leave ample space for growth between each portion.
Run your hand under cold water and sprinkle the mixture with a few dashes of cold water.
Cook in oven for 15 mins at 220 degrees, then turn the oven down to 180 for a further 15 mins.
Please note I usually double this mixture if I want to make my eclairs bigger and more socially acceptable!
2 egg yolks
1/2 pint milk
2oz plain flour
Melt butter in saucepan, add flour, stir until smooth.
Add milk, stir until boiling, cook for 2 mins and cool slightly.
Add beaten yolks, cook without boiling, add sugar and vanilla.
Assemble the glorious creation: you need a large bowl of whipped double cream and a block of chocolate, dark or milk as you please.
While the custard is warm, slice open the eclair shell, remove any soft skin and stuff the bottom half with the custard. Cool.
Add the whipped cream and gently place top of shell on the cream.
Melt your chocolate in a double boiler, and then with a tbsp gently pour over the top of each shell.
Set in fridge.
Lock the fridge before other people eat them first.