“No, I don’t want an éclair,” you said, in your worst nightmare ever. Thankfully, there’s a cookbook remedy to ensure you never experience this unlikely interaction again. Food writer Charity Ferreira’s collection of éclair recipes was influenced by desserts around the world that all translate splendidly into the custard-filled pastry we all know and love. Ever wish your éclair was filled with Nutella instead of plain old regular delicious pastry cream? Now’s the time!
This simple, fluffy chocolate-hazelnut filling whips up easily and can be stored for up to a day in the refrigerator. Whisk it to thicken, if necessary, before filling your éclairs.
Pâte à Choux
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into chunks
- 4 eggs
- 3/4 cup Nutella or other chocolate-hazelnut spread, at room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups heavy (whipping) cream, cold
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 3 tablespoons Nutella
- 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup heavy (whipping) cream
- 1/4 cup finely chopped toasted hazelnuts (optional)
For the pâte à choux
In a small bowl, stir together the flour, sugar and salt.
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, heat the water and butter. When the butter is melted, bring the mixture to a simmer. Remove the pan from the heat and add the flour mixture. Stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until the mixture comes together in a smooth mass. Return the pan to low heat and cook the mixture for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes, stirring continuously to keep it from scorching. Remove the pan from the heat and let the mixture cool for 5 minutes.
Add one egg and mix vigorously with the wooden spoon until it is incorporated. The mixture will look separated and curdled after you add the egg, but don't be deterred! Just keep mixing, and it will come together smoothly. Add the remaining eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. After the fourth egg, you will have a smooth, shiny pâte à choux mixture. Beat the mixture vigorously for a few seconds after the last egg is incorporated. The pâte à choux is now ready to pipe into your preferred shape.
For the éclairs
Preheat the oven to 400°F [200°C]. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Spoon the pâte à choux into a pastry bag fitted with a plain ¾‑inch [2‑centimeter] tip. Holding the tip at a 45-degree angle to the baking sheet, pipe batons that are about ¾ inches [2 centimeters] wide and 4 inches [10 centimeters] long, leaving 1 to 1½ inches [2.5 to 4 centimeters] of space between them.
Bake for 15 minutes, then lower the oven temperature to 375°F [190°C] (keep the oven door open for 3 to 5 seconds to bring down the oven temperature; if you’re baking two sheets at once, switch their position in the oven) and bake for another 15 minutes.
Using a paring knife, prick each shell several times close to the bottom along one side. Return the shells to the oven and bake for another 10 minutes to dry out the eggy insides. Allow the shells to stand at room temperature until they are cool to the touch. You can leave them on the baking sheet, or, if you prefer, you can transfer them to a wire cooling rack.
For the filling
Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment or a handheld mixer and a medium bowl, beat the Nutella, ½ cup [120 milliliters] of the cream, and the salt on medium speed until smooth and creamy. (If using a stand mixer, switch to a whisk attachment now.)
Whisk in the remaining cream until thick, firm peaks form. Set aside.
For the glaze
In a shallow bowl that is wide enough to dip an éclair, combine the Nutella, chocolate, and butter. In a small saucepan over medium heat, heat the cream until it comes to a simmer. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate mixture and let stand for 1 minute. Whisk until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.
Cut the cooled éclair shells in half horizontally. Spoon the filling into each bottom half. Dip the top half in the glaze, allowing the excess to drip back into the bowl. Place the glazed top on the filled bottom. Repeat to fill and glaze the remaining éclairs. Sprinkle the chopped hazelnuts (if using) over the filled éclairs while the glaze is still soft.
Refrigerate to set the glaze, about 10 minutes, then serve. Or refrigerate, covered loosely with plastic wrap, for up to 1 day; the éclairs will taste best if you let them stand at room temperature for about 15 minutes before serving.