Vanilla Eclairs

One would think that eclairs and cream puffs would be difficult to make. On the contrary, they are actually fairly easy and fun. I made these eclairs for a Titanic Centennial Dinner Party along with Waldorf Pudding. Both desserts were served as the 10th course on April 14, 1912 in the First Class Dining Room. This recipe makes roughly a dozen shells, however it depends on how big you make each shell. 

Pastry Shell

1/2 cup butter

1 cup water

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

4 eggs

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Grease a large baking sheet, or 2 small ones. In a heavy saucepan, boil the water and butter. Turn the heat to low and add the flour and salt. Vigorously hand mix with a wooden spoon until the dough begins to pull from the sides of the pan. Remove from heat.

Add eggs, one at a time, vigorously beating by hand after each egg is added. 

Drop by spoonful, or fill pastry bag fitted with large round tip (I used #10) with dough and pipe onto baking sheet in 1” by 4” strips. 

They look a little weird, but they will look better after baking :) Place the tray in the oven and bake at 450 degree for 15 minutes. Turn the temperature to 325 degrees and bake for 20 minutes more. Remove from oven and cool on a rack. 

Filling

1 (5 ounce) package instant vanilla pudding mix

2 cups cold milk

1 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Beat the pudding mix and the milk for 2 minutes. Set aside. In another bowl, beat the heavy cream until peaks form, then add in the sugar and vanilla. Gently fold the whipped cream into the pudding. 

Slice each shell on the side and spoon enough filling into each one. 

Chocolate Topping

2 ounces semisweet chocolate

2 tablespoons butter

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 tablespoons hot water

In a small saucepan, melt the butter and chocolate over low heat.Add the sugar and vanilla. The mixture will be stiff. Add water one tablespoon at a time, and stir until the chocolate is the desired consistency. Spread or drizzle over each shell immediately. Chill until ready to serve. 

These eclairs are so simple and delicious. Light and airy, with a creamy vanilla filling. I would like to try them with a fruit and cream filling, that would be a perfect breakfast pastry.