I always think of éclairs as being one of the prettiest pastries, so I chose one of the prettiest flavor pairings I know for this recipe: strawberries and cream. The éclairs are filled with a thin layer of reduced jelly then topped with plenty of extra thick and creamy mascarpone whipped cream. A naturally pink glaze made from freeze dried strawberries is the perfect finishing touch; save some of the strawberry powder for a final sprinkle of flair.
—Erin Jeanne McDowell
Test Kitchen Notes
Bake It Up a Notch is a column by Resident Baking BFF Erin Jeanne McDowell. Each month, she'll help take our baking game to the next level, teaching us all the need-to-know tips and techniques and showing us all the mistakes we might make along the way. Today, a lesson in all things pâte à choux—the fancy-sounding French pastry that's actually a cinch. —The Editors
- Prep time 1 hour 30 minutes
- Cook time 1 hour 15 minutes
- makes 15 éclairs
recipe pâte à choux (https://food52.com/recipes...)
Egg wash, as needed
(340g) strawberry jelly
(66g) granulated sugar
vanilla bean, halved and scraped
1 1/2 cups
(353g) heavy cream
(226g) mascarpone cheese
fine sea salt
- Glaze & Topping
(28g) freeze-dried strawberries
(113g) powdered sugar
(60g) heavy cream, plus more as needed
- Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. If desired, you can draw lines on the paper 4 inches apart to use as guides for keeping your éclairs the same length (if you do, turn the paper over on the baking sheet so that the ink will not make contact with the batter).
- Transfer the prepared pate a choux to a pastry bag (either fitted with large round piping tip or with a ½ inch opening cut from the tip). Pipe a very small amount of batter in the corners of the paper so that it adheres to the baking sheet (this makes it easier to pipe evenly without the paper moving).
- Apply steady pressure to the pastry bag to pipe 4 inch long éclairs between the guide lines you drew. You can fit multiple rows on your baking sheet, and stagger the éclairs as you pipe. When you have reached the preferred length, stop applying pressure, and use a quick flick of the wrist to break the connection between the batter and the piping tip. Repeat with the remaining batter.
- Use a fingertip dipped in cool water to smooth the edge where you finished piping, if desired. Let the éclairs sit at room temperature for 15 to 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
- Brush the éclairs with egg wash. Bake until golden and crisp, 35 to 40 minutes. (Optional: Once the éclairs have become lightly golden and the structure is set, about 30 minutes into baking, you can remove the trays from the oven and let cool completely, then return to the oven for 5 to 10 minutes more. This helps the choux brown more evenly.)
- When you remove the choux from the oven, immediately use a paring knife to poke a small vent into the side of the éclairs to allow steam to escape (this will help to keep them crisp). Cool completely.
- When the éclairs have cooled, cut them in half horizontally. Place the jelly in small pot, and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching. Continue to simmer over medium-low heat until the mixture reduces to about ⅔ cup. Cool, then place in a pastry bag (without the tip removed). Set aside.
- Make the cream filling: In a small bowl, rub the sugar and vanilla bean seeds to combine. In the bowl of an electric mixer, whip the cream and vanilla sugar to soft peaks on medium speed. Add the mascarpone and salt and whip to medium-stiff peaks. Transfer to a pastry bag fitted with a pastry tip (round tip to make dots, petal tip to make ruffles, or star tip.)
- Make the glaze: In a food processor, pulse the freeze dried strawberries until they form a powder. Remove 1 to 2 tablespoons of this powder to reserve for finishing.
- Then add the powdered sugar and pulse well to combine. Sift the mixture into a medium bowl, then whisk in the cream. Add more cream as needed to achieve a pipe-able consistency.
- Transfer the glaze to a piping bag and pipe on the surface of the éclair, leaving about ¼ inch of the éclair uncovered all the way around the edge. Sprinkle some of the reserved strawberry powder on top. Let set for 15 minutes.
- Pipe a thin layer of strawberry jelly in the base of each éclair. Top each with larger piped mounds of whipped cream. Place the top of the éclair on top of the cream. Serve within 8 hours.