Certain things are loved all over the world. Coffee, chocolate, and éclairs are three of them, I think.
Personally I’m truly addicted to everything’s made with chocolate, my second love is coffee and I can’t resist a nice puffy, overstuffed éclair. So, it just made perfect sense to me to combine these to create an amazing taste sensation: some Gianduja chocolate and coffee éclairs!
Decadent creamy filling.
Doesn’t get any better than that! A crowd-pleaser, incredibly light flavorful éclair is the best way to indulge yourself.
These éclairs are made of three things:
- Chocolate choux pastry
- Gianduja chocolate, hazelnut praline paste and coffee crémeux
- Caranoa 55% dark chocolate (it’s a dark chocolate with caramelized and toffee flavor) and hazelnut crunchy coating
The recipe works also well without coffee, in the case you don’t like it at all. You just have to replace the same amount of espresso coffe with milk (cow’s milk or plant-based milk) for the Gianduja crémeux.
The éclairs are a little bit more elaborated when compared to the cream puff. That’s why I saved in my story highlights on Instagram all my tips for the smooth hollow shells and crack-free éclairs. But you can still find everything in the recipe below.
If you make this recipe, don’t forget to leave a comment or tag me on Instagram. I’d be more than happy to hear from you all. Seeing your creations makes me the happiest person beyond everything!
And, of course, if you have any questions or doubts about this recipe and/or pastry techniques in general, feel very free to write me. I’ll do my best to respond you as quickly as possible ♡
Chocolate choux pastry
200 g unsweetened almond milk (or cow's milk or 100 g milk + 100 g water)
3 g Fleur de Sel (or regular salt)
3 g caster (superfine) sugar
90 g butter, cubed
100 g type 1 whole wheat flour (150-180W) (or All Purpose flour)
20 g cocoa powder 22-24%
210 g eggs, to room temperature
Gianduja chocolate and coffee crémeux
150 g espresso coffee
150 g heavy cream 35% fat content
62 g egg yolks
3 g gelatin sheets, Gold strength (200 Bloom)
15 g cold water to soak the gelatin sheets
150 g Gianduja milk chocolate 39%
150 g Azélia 35% milk chocolate (hazelnut flavored milk chocolate, replace it with the milk chocolate of choice)
62 g vanilla hazelnut praline paste
Caranoa 55% dark chocolate and hazelnut crunchy coating
250 g Caranoa 55% dark chocolate (caramelized dark chocolate, replace it with the dark chocolate of choice)
37 g raw hazelnut paste
Chocolate choux pastry
- Combine milk, sugar, salt and cubed butter in a saucepan and bring to boil to medium heat. Make sure that the butter is completely melted before the mixture is boiling. You can either use just water, or milk (whole/low-fat milk or plant-based milk), or half water and half milk.
- In the meantime, sieve flour and cocoa powder into a bowl and stir with a fine whisk.
- When the butter has melted and the mixture is boiling, remove the saucepan from the heat and add all the sifted flour and cocoa powder mixture in one go. Stir to combine everything and form a dough, using an exoglass spoon or a wooden spoon. I don't recommend using a fine whisk, the flour will just get stuck in the tines.
- When there are no lumps remaining and the mixture is fully combined, return the saucepan to the heat. Cook on medium-low heat until the dough comes together into a smooth ball and a thin film forms on bottom of the pan (at least 2 minutes of cooking). To test if it is ready, take a piece of the dough in your hand and roll it into a ball to feel the texture. It if doesn't stick to your hand it is ready. For crak-free éclairs it's crucial to dry out the dough in the saucepan before adding the eggs. This lets excess water to evaporate and also allows the starch in the flour to gelatinize, meaning puffed éclair shells. If you don't dry out the dough long enough, the leftover water combined with the water in the eggs will be too much and will cause cracks during baking. Plus, the éclairs won't hold their shape.
- After 2 minutes of cooking (at least), remove the saucepan from the heat and transfer the dough to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on a medium-high speed for a few minutes to cool the choux pastry down (50-60°C). Make sure that the dough is not too hot before adding the eggs or they will curdle. It should be lukewarm to touch.
- Place the eggs into a jug and break up by using a fork. Lightly beating the eggs before adding them into the choux pastry ensures that the whites and yolks are properly distributed throughout the dough. Use always room temperature eggs. Adding the right amount of eggs will help the éclairs to puff up evenly in the oven and will form a beautiful round hollow inside. Plus, the éclairs will hold their shape without looking flat.
- Very slowly, start to add eggs to the lukewarm dough a little at a time, mixing at low speed. Using a paddle and mixing at low speed will keep the air in the eggs at a minimum as well as the air in the choux at a minimum. The air makes the shell crack in the oven. Ensure the eggs and dough are well combined before adding more eggs.
- Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula, if required. You might not use all of the eggs, it depends on how firm or soft the choux dough is. Check the consistency with the "spatula V test": take a little of the dough with a spatula and lift it straight up. If the dough slowly moves and starts to slide off the spatula forming a "V" shape at the end of the spatula, it's the correct consistency. If the dough doesn't move, add more eggs.
- The choux dough is also ready when it looks smooth (without lumps), shiny and it has an elastic consistency. The smoother it looks, the smoother will be the éclairs.
- Once you have checked the consistency of the dough, beat it at low speed for at least 5 minutes, until the dough looks smooth (without lumps), shiny and elastic.
- Remove the dough from the mixer and place it onto a baking dish. Spread the dough out with a spatula and cover with plastic wrap touching the surface of the dough. Ensure the wrap touches the dough to eliminate any air bubbles.
- Chill in the fridge from 3 to 5 hours. This lets the gluten to relax and prevents the shell from cracking. In this way the éclairs are easier to pipe. Plus, the dough will look even smoother, meaning less air, meaning no cracks.
- When the dough is completely chilled and well rested, transfer it to a disposable piping bag fitted with a 15mm or 16mm star nozzle (I usually use Wilton #6B). One of the most important way to reduce cracking in éclairs is to let the air out of the dough. So, beat the dough repeatedly with your palm to flatten the dough and to pop any air bubbles. Then squeeze the mixture down the bag and press the mixture at the end of the bag.
- Line a baking tray with a Silpat mat. Pipe the choux pastry in straight lines along the length of the tray, holding the nozzle at a 45° angle to the tray and slightly raised from the tray. This is the best angle to pipe your choux pastry. Don't hold the pastry bag (and tip) upright when you're piping the éclairs, otherwise they will not be equally uniform.
- If you are unhappy with the choux or if there are any large air bubbles, simply scrape the mixture back up, beat it again with the hand palm and pipe strips from scratch. Pipe the choux pastry with a consistent pressure. Inconsistent or varying pressure will result into non-uniform éclair shells.
- Freeze the éclairs overnight (12h). The next day, remove the tray from the freezer and leave it at room temperature for about 5 minutes, just to let the choux pastry to defrost slightly. Trim the ends off the choux pastry and cut out individual strips measuring 13 cm in length. Place them again in the freezer for 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 190°C, static mode. Line a micro perforated baking tray with a micro perforated silicone baking mat. These ensure an optimal distribution of the heat, meaning best baking results.
- Dust each éclair with cocoa butter powder (Mycryo) before baking. This is part of the success of an even éclair as it helps to prevent the surface from breaking.
- Place the choux strips onto the prepared tray, leaving a 4 cm space in between.
- Place the éclairs in the oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 170°C. Bake for 35 minutes, without opening the oven at this stage, otherwise the éclairs will collapse. The low temperature prevents cracking on the surface.
- After 35 minutes: ✓ Open the oven door for 10 seconds and close it again, just to let the steam out from the oven; ✓ Switch the static mode to ventilation mode (fan oven); ✓ Reduce the temperature to 135-140°C and bake for a further 20 minutes.
- It's very important to bake the frozen éclairs properly, that's way I always change the baking mode after 35 minutes. In fact, the fan oven allows the éclair shells to dry out evenly.
- When the éclairs are ready, remove from the oven and allow to cool onto a cooling rack, without the baking tray. Keeping the baked eclairs at room temperature and not covered for anight will ensure completely dried éclairs.
Gianduja chocolate and coffee crémeux
- Soak the gelatin sheets in the cold water.
- Melt together Gianduja chocolate and Azélia milk chocolate in the microwave to 45°C. Place the eggs yolks in a bowl.
- In a saucepan combine espresso coffee and heavy cream and bring to simmer. Once the liquids are simmering, remove the saucepan from the heat and pour the liquids over the egg yolks in 3 times, mixing with a fine whisk at each addition of liquid.
- Place everything back into the saucepan and reheat to 82-85°C, stirring continuously with a rubber spatula over medium-low heat.
- Remove the saucepan from the heat, add the soaked gelatin sheets and stir to dissolve.
- Add the cream to the melted chocolates in 3 times, stirring vigorously with the spatula at each addition of liquid, in order to obtain a smooth, fluid and evenly cream.
- Transfer the crémeux into a mixing glass and blend to stabilize the emulsion and to obtain a shiny and silky-smooth texture.
- Add finally the hazelnut praline paste and blend once again.
- Pour the crémeux into a baking dish or bowl, cover with clingfilm touching the surface of the crémeux and place in the fridge for at least 12h (overnight).
Caranoa 55% dark chocolate and hazelnut crunchy coating
- Melt chocolate in the microwave to 50°C and mix through the hazelnut paste.
- Transfer the glaze to a container with a diameter just slightly wider than the éclair. Let the glaze to cool down at room temperature to 30-32°C.
Assembly and decoration
- Pierce the base of each éclair in 3 spots, using a 6 mm round nozzle (Wilton n°10).
- Transfer the firmed and chilled crémeux to a disposable piping bag fitted with a 6 mm round nozzle and pipe inside each hole of the éclairs, so they are heavy enough. If too much cream comes out of the bottom of the éclairs, clean it on the side of the baking dish.
- Place the éclairs in the freezer for about 1h.
- Make the chocolate crunchy coating and when it is 30-32°C, remove the éclairs from the freezer. Dip each éclair into the chocolate coating, facing down, so the top of the éclair is well coated. Tap it lightly on the surface of the glaze to prevent bubbles and wipe off any excess glaze with your finger. The glaze should set quickly, as soon as it touches the frozen éclair.
- Once the glaze has set, garnish the éclairs with dark chocolate butterflies, dark chocolate thin crescents and edible flowers.