Ingredients (makes 20 - 25)
150g plain flour
1 tsp (5ml) sugar
1 tsp (5ml) salt
250ml cold water
4 medium eggs, beaten.
For the filling:
300ml double cream
1 tbsp icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
For the topping:
200g fondant icing sugar
12g cocoa powder
1–2 tsp water
175g self-raising flour
- Spread out a piece of baking paper; sieve onto it the flour, sugar and salt and mix them together.
- Cut the butter into small pieces, put it into a saucepan with the water and bring to the boil.
- Once the butter is melted and the water is bubbling, remove from the heat and quickly tip the flour/sugar mixture into the pan. Stir well with a wooden spoon.
- Return the pan to the heat and beat the mixture firmly and quickly with the wooden spoon until it comes away from the sides and forms a ball – this will happen pretty quickly.
- Allow to cool a little then, still off the heat, beat the eggs into the mixture, a little at a time, until smooth.
- It may be hard to mix it in to start with, but keep going until most of the egg is used up – beating hard with the spoon - and it will slowly become a smooth, thick, shiny paste with a dropping consistency. You may not need all of the egg – you want the paste to move a little when you tip the pan, but not become runny.
- Spoon the mix into a large piping bag with a 1cm plain nozzle and allow to cool to room temperature.
- Pre-heat the oven to 200C, 185C fan assisted, gas mark 6.
- Attach a piece of baking paper to a large tray with a little paste at each corner, then pipe or spoon the mixture in finger shapes onto the paper.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.
- Remove from the oven and make a small hole in the underside of each eclair with a knife to release any steam: this is important to stop them going soft. Cool on a rack.
- Whip the cream together with the sieved icing sugar and essence until thick – under-whip it if you are going to pipe the cream, as it will thicken further when forced through the nozzle.
- Spoon the cream into a large piping bag with a small plain nozzle and, once the eclairs are cold, make holes in each end with the nozzle and fill them with cream.
- You may need an extra hole in the base half way along. Alternatively, you can split the eclairs in half lengthways and use a teaspoon to fill them with cream.
- To make the topping, sieve the fondant sugar and cocoa into a mixing bowl and add enough water to make a thick paste. Either dip the tops of the eclairs into the chocolate or brush it on, then allow to set.