This post is sponsored in conjunction with #BrunchWeek. I received product samples from sponsor companies to aid in the creation of the #Brunchweek recipes. All opinions are mine alone.
Mocha eclairs are filled with pastry cream flavored with chocolate and coffee extract — what better pastry to serve at a brunch?
It’s BrunchWeek time again, hosted by Terri of Love and Confections. This is my third year participating, because brunch is my favorite meal. We have several great sponsors this year, who’ve generously donated some wonderful prize packages. Update: giveaway has ended.
Eclairs are one of my favorite desserts. What's not to love about sweet pastry, filled with cream and topped with chocolate? These mocha eclairs take on a brunch-style flavor with pastry cream infused with chocolate and coffee. Don't be intimidated by the process detailed below. Eclairs are not difficult to make.
The method for making eclairs is unlike any other pastry methods. In things like pie dough, you don't want to overwork the flour and create gluten, which makes the pie crust tough. But for eclairs, you WANT to create gluten. This is what holds the pastry up when the center of the pastry is hollow.
The pastry becomes hollow from the water in the recipe. The water turns to steam and creates a hollow space. It's important to puncture the eclair as soon as it comes out of the oven to let this steam escape, otherwise, you'll have a soggy eclair as the steam absorbs back into the pastry.
I think the pastry cream is my favorite part of the eclair. It's almost like pudding. I could eat plain vanilla bean pastry cream straight out of the bowl. Add in chocolate and coffee?!? I'm amazed I had the self-restraint to leave it alone until after I'd photographed the recipe!
The pastry cream can be made up to 48 hours in advance. The eclair shells can be made a day ahead of time. If you make them early enough in the day, you'll have enough time for them to cool that you can fill them that same day. Filled mocha eclairs should be stored in the refrigerator, or even frozen.
For the eclair shells:
- 1 cup water
- 6 tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 tbsp Dixie Crystals sugar
- Pinch of kosher salt
- 1 ¼ cups bread flour, 5 ¾ oz
- 4 large eggs
- 2 large egg whites
For the egg wash
- 1 large egg
- 1 tbsp water
For the filling:
- 2 cups whole milk
- ¼ cup cornstarch
- ½ cup Dixie Crystals sugar
- ¼ tsp salt
- 2 large eggs
- ½ tsp Nielsen-Massey vanilla extract
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 tbsp Nielsen-Massey coffee extract
- 3 oz bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped
For the glaze
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 12 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
Make the shells
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
- Place the water, butter, sugar and salt in a large saucepan set over medium-high heat until the butter melts and the mixture is boiling.
- Add the bread flour and stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture forms a ball. Cook over medium-heat heat, stirring constantly, to cook out most of the water.
- Transfer the dough to a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed for 2 minutes to cool the mixture down.
- Add the eggs one at a time. Once an egg is added, the mixture will separate. Beat on medium speed until the mixture comes together again before adding the next egg. Repeat with the egg whites.
- Fit a large plain tip inside a large piping bag. Fill halfway with the eclair dough. Snip off the tip of the piping bag, and pipe dough into 4- or 5-inch long lines on the prepared pan, refilling the piping bag if needed.
- With dampened hands, press down on any peaks on the top of the eclairs (to prevent burning during baking).
- Make the egg wash: beat together the egg and water. Use a pastry brush to gently brush the egg wash over the eclairs.
- Bake the eclairs for 12 minutes at 425 degrees. After 12 minutes, without opening the oven, lower the temperature to 350 degrees and bake another 30 minutes, until the eclairs are baked through and deep golden in color.
- Immediately poke each eclair with a toothpick, skewer, dowel, or other long, thin object, to allow steam inside the eclair to escape (otherwise, you'll end up with soggy eclairs). Set the eclairs aside to cool completely, then store in a plastic ziptop bag at room temperature until ready to fill with pastry cream.
Make the filling
- Place the milk in a heavy-bottom saucepan set over medium-high heat.
- Keeping a close eye on the milk, whisk the cornstarch, sugar and salt together in a bowl. Gradually add the eggs and mix until smooth.
- Once the milk is at scalding (little bubbles form at the edges of the pan), gradually add about a third of the hot milk to the egg mixture while whisking rapidly. Pour the egg mixture back into the saucepan.
- Reduce the heat under the saucepan to medium and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture comes to a boil and thickens. Boil for a few seconds longer to make sure the raw starch taste has dissipated. Remove the saucepan from the heat.
- Stir in the vanilla extract, then the butter, then the chocolate and coffee extract.
- Pour the custard into a bowl, and place a sheet of plastic wrap directly on the surface. Cool to room temperature, then transfer to the refrigerator to chill.
Assemble the eclairs
- Fit a large disposable piping bag with a small open star tip. Fill halfway with the mocha pastry cream. Press the star tip into the side of one of the eclairs and squeeze the pastry cream into the eclair. Repeat with the remaining eclairs, refilling the piping bag with more pastry cream as needed.
Make the glaze
- Place the chopped chocolate in a medium bowl. Place the heavy cream in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and set over medium heat. Once the cream comes to scalding, remove from the heat and pour over the chocolate. Let stand for one minute, then stir until smooth.
- Dip the top of each eclair into the glaze and let the excess drip off. Place on a wire rack to let the ganache set. Repeat with remaining eclairs. Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
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Disclaimer: Thank you to #BrunchWeek Sponsors: Red Star Yeast, Dixie Crystals, Cabot Cheese, Nielsen-Massey, Rainier Fruit, and Michigan Asparagus for providing the prizes free of charge. These companies also provided the bloggers with samples and product to use for #BrunchWeek recipes. All opinions are my own. The #BrunchWeek giveaway is open to U.S. residents, age 18 & up. All entries for the winner will be checked and verified. By entering you give the right to use your name and likeness. The number of entries received determines the odds of winning. Six winners will be selected. The prize packages will be sent directly from the giveaway sponsors. The #BrunchWeek Bloggers are not responsible for the fulfillment or delivery of the prize packages. Bloggers hosting this giveaway and their immediate family members in their household cannot enter or win the giveaway. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited by law. This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, or any other social channel mentioned in the #Brunchweek posts or entry.