Until last year, I hadn’t had a lot of success with choux pastry. Not the actual making of it, but the baking. It would always collapse, the insides gummy and soggy, not what you’d call a picture perfect pastry. One day I accidentally left some puffs in the oven after turning it off, and when I pulled them out, dreading to see
a pile of ash terribly burned puffs, they were perfect. Golden brown, hollow sound on tapping. I was ecstatic. A longer baking time was all that was required to produce these delectable treats.
Is it weird that I always get hungry looking at gross anatomy specimens? And it’s not just me, I’ve checked. Maybe something to do with how processed muscles literally 100% resemble pulled pork. Today was the first time I held a human brain in my hands in all its slippery glory, with bonus spinal cord. Just think about it, a once alive person’s memories, all of it, preserved and sacred.
Strawberry-white chocolate éclairs
For the choux pastry:
pinch of salt
1 tsp sugar
60g bread flour (for best results, but all-purpose is also fine)
2 large eggs, lightly whisked
For the strawberry-white chocolate filling:
125g strawberries, hulled & washed
50g caster sugar
35g white chocolate, chopped finely
100g heavy cream
10g caster sugar
Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F and line a baking tray. Measure out the ingredients for the choux beforehand and have the flour ready by the stove.
Melt the butter with milk, water, salt and sugar and bring to the boil. As soon as it starts to boil, turn off the heat and tip in all of the flour at once. Stir it in and turn the heat back on to low, work the dough vigorously so there are no flour clumps. When a thin film is formed at the bottom of the pan, turn off the heat and set it to the side to cool completely.
When the dough has cooled, beat in the eggs a little at a time. When the egg has been absorbed completely, add in more until the batter hangs off the spatula/spoon/whisk in an upside down triangle sort of shape. (i.e. neither drippy nor stiff) You may need more/less egg depending on how long the dough was cooked, so only incorporate a little at a time and check the consistency constantly.
Fill a piping bag fitted with any > 1cm tip with the batter, and pipe out any type of choux pastry you fancy. There was enough for me to make 13 smallish éclairs and 9 profiteroles.
Bake for about 20 minutes until they are golden brown and sound hollow when lightly tapped. Leave to cool completely.
In the meantime blend the strawberries with milk and sieve out the seeds straight into a pot. Whisk the egg and 50g sugar until pale and thick, then add the cornflour and whisk to incorporate. Bring the strawberry mixture to a simmer, and pour the hot liquid a little at a time into the egg mixture, whisking the latter constantly to avoid scrambling. Once all the liquid is poured from the pot, put the entire mixture back in to the pot on medium heat, whisking all the time. Let bubble for about 2 minutes (still whisking) until thick.
In a heatproof container place the chopped white chocolate, and pour in the hot strawberry pastry cream directly on top (strain the pastry cream first if lumpy). Stir until the chocolate has melted and put clingfilm directly on top of the pastry cream before putting it in the fridge to chill completely.
Whip up the cream with 10g sugar until soft peaks form, then fold it through the chilled strawberry pastry cream. Put it into a piping bag with a small tip and fill up the hollow shells. Pretend to overfill a couple and deliver straight to your mouth (I know I did). Serve the rest as soon as they’re filled.