You can of course top these with melted chocolate or a simple chocolate icing, but to create the lovely shiny look it’s best to use fondant icing sugar (you can find it in supermarkets in the sugar section).
(Makes 20 – 25)
- 150g plain flour
- 1 tsp (5ml) sugar
- 1/2 tsp (2.5ml) salt
- 100g butter
- 250ml cold water
- 4 medium eggs, beaten
For the filling
- 300ml double cream
- 1 tbsp (15ml) icing sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla essence
For the topping
- 200g fondant icing sugar
- 12g cocoa powder
- 1–2 tsp water
1. Spread out a piece of baking paper; sieve onto it the flour, sugar and salt and mix them together.
2. 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.
3. 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, stir the beaten egg 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.
4. Spoon the mix into a large piping bag with a 1cm plain nozzle (or just cut the end off the bag) and allow tocool to room temperature.
5. Pre-heat the oven to 200°C, 185°C fan assisted, gas mark 6.
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.
7. 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 as it stops them going soft. Cool on a rack.
8. 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 length-ways and use a teaspoon to fill them with cream.
9. 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.