I tried so many times to make these mocha eclairs. I even ended up changing the flavour part way through making them. They were originally going to be filled with a chocolate cremeux, however when the first two batches of eclairs failed I ended up eating the cremeux over a few days as it was so good and tasted just like a chocolate pot – which is a perfect speedy dessert that I should really feature on here – so when I got back in the kitchen a week later I changed these to mocha eclairs.
A coffee creme patissiere with a chocolate craquelin and chocolate icing. Part of the reason I had to change the flavour was because I had run out of Belgian chocolate and I didn’t have time to get more delivered, but also because I realised I have very little of anything on the blog which is coffee flavoured.
This is madness because I absolutely love coffee and barely a day goes by where I don’t have any. So often though instant coffee is used in a cake and the coffee flavour is too mild or it’s decorated with a really sad coffee buttercream and it ends up tasting revolting. These mocha eclairs pack a real coffee hit, so if you are not a coffee lover then I suggest you change the filling in these to a vanilla creme patissiere.
The reason I had so many failures with these eclairs is because I tried a different choux pastry recipe to my usual one. I tried it because it was the recipe from my William Curley book and I have successfully made so many recipes of his that I just had to try it. I normally swear by Edd Kimber’s recipe, the main difference is that the William Curley recipe had milk as well as water and quite a lot of egg.
The first time I tried the recipe my choux was too wet, so the eclairs didn’t puff up at all. I then tried the same recipe again, thinking maybe I hadn’t cooked out the roux enough before adding the egg. So I made the same recipe again, but I changed some of the plain flour for bread flour. I also only added 3 of the required 5 eggs and it was already too loose. I began adding some more flour, when the choux felt like it was the right consistency I piped it out and topped it with the craquelin.
This time my choux went too far in the other direction. Instead of puffing up it exploded. They looked like they had been pumped up with a bike pump and they were completely unusable. All of this faffing taught me that there’s nothing wrong with sticking to a recipe that works, regardless of how many books you have. I am not necessarily saying there is anything wrong with the William Curley recipe as so many of the other recipes in the book worked so well, I thought this would too.
This final and successful attempt was made using Edd Kimber’s recipe and I was reminded that choux pastry is something you really need to make regularly to get good at it. By the last couple of eclairs my piping was getting pretty good.
The craquelin helps a lot with the shape too, but I am always in awe of all the perfectly uniform eclairs you see in the patisserie shop window. I can never work out if they are just a lot better than me or if all the broken eclairs end up in the bin. I hope it’s not the latter, otherwise trying to get better at piping eclairs would be a fruitless task.
The reason it bothers me so much that I cannot pipe perfect eclairs is because I like eating them so much. Choux puffs I have pretty much perfected, I really need to try paris-brest again, but I wonder if that would tip me over the edge and send me into meltdown.
Back to these eclairs though, they are seriously good and please don’t be put off by all that I’ve written, use your instincts when baking and follow the tips I’ve included in the recipe.
- 1 x Quantity of Choux Pastry
- ***Coffee Creme Patissiere***
- 2 Tsps Vanilla Extract
- 500ml Milk
- 120g Sugar
- 50g Plain Flour
- 120g Egg Yolks (approx 6 eggs)
- 60ml Espresso
- 10g Instant Coffee
- ***Chocolate Craquelin***
- 80g Plain Flour
- 10g Cocoa Powder
- 90g Caster Sugar
- 75g Unsalted Butter, cubed
- ***Chocolate Icing***
- 500g Fondant Icing Sugar
- 50g Dark Chocolate, melted
- ***To decorate***
- Coffee Beans
- Cocoa Nibs
- First prepare the craquelin, put all of the ingredients into a bowl and rub with your fingertips untill it resembles breadcrumbs. Continue to mix until it comes together and forms a dough. Place the craquelin between two sheets of greaseproof paper and roll it out to about 3mm thick. Place this in the freezer to firm up for 30 mins. Then take the craquelin out of the freezer and using a knife cut out 12 rectangles that are 12cm by 2cm and place these back in the freezer.
- Next make the choux pastry, preheat the oven to 180C (160C Fan) Gas 4 (if you're using a steam oven, wait until you are ready to begin baking and then add 100ml of water to the cavity of your oven and preheat the oven to 160C Fan) and line two baking trays with baking parchment, draw 6 lines 12cm long, evenly spaced apart on each tray and turn the paper over so the lines are on the reverse. Ensuring you have 12 lines in total.
- Make the choux pastry as per steps 2- 7 of this recipe. Take the craquelin out of the freezer and place a strip on top of each eclair.
- Bake the eclairs for 25-30 minutes until golden brown and crisp. Turn off the oven and leave the eclairs in the oven to cool for 30 minutes.
- Remove the eclairs from the oven and leave them to cool before icing and filling them.
- Next make the coffee creme patissiere, bring the milk, vanilla extract, instant coffee and espresso to a boil in a saucepan over a medium heat.
- Meanwhile combine the sugar and flour in a medium bowl, add the egg yolks and whisk just until combined.
- Whisk a third of the milk into the egg mixture to loosen it, whisk in the remaining milk and return the mixture to the saucepan and cook over a medium heat, whisking constantly until it thickens.
- Scrape the pastry cream into a bowl and cover with a layer of clingfilm, pressing it down so it touches the surface of the cream, this will stop a skin forming, allow to chill completely.
- Pierce three holes in the bottom of each eclair, take the coffee creme patissiere from the fridge and stir it gently, place it in a piping bag with a 5mm nozzle.
- Fill the eclairs with the coffee creme patissiere by piping it into each hole until the eclair is full.
- Next make the icing, sift the icing sugar into a bowl wide enough to allow you to dunk the eclairs. Add the dark chocolate and stir, add water to create the desired thick consistency, as you don't want the icing to drip down the sides of the eclairs.
- Decorate the eclairs with the coffee beans and cocoa nibs
Thanks for reading.