Bookish Recipe: Chocolate Éclairs

Welcome to Bookish Recipes, a feature on the blog where I cook or bake a recipe from a book I have loved and share the result with you. This week's recipe is inspired by the book The Silent Hours by Cesca Major. A beautiful and moving story set in France during the Second World War.

As you can imagine, being set in France, food has its own role in the story. We read about pastries, madeleines, petit fours, scones or chocolate éclairs. All of them quickly become a privilege only some can enjoy in such difficult times but when people can get hold of some of them, they do bring a small joy to their lives. In honour of this beautiful story, I decided to try my hand at Paul Hollywood's recipe for chocolate éclairs. Here it is:

"We went to a café, shared a chocolate éclair, the price now extortionate but entirely worth it. " 
                                          - The Silent Hours by Cesca Major


For the choux pastry
- 65g plain flour.
- a pinch of salt.
- 50g unsalted butter.
- 2 eggs.

For the filling
- 200ml whipping cream.
- 3 tsp icing sugar.

For the icing
- 100g chocolate.

1) Preheat the oven to 200º C. Put 120 ml of water into a medium-sized pan with the salt and butter and heat gently until the butter has completely melted. Quickly bring the mixture to the boil and throw in all the flour in one go. Remove it from the heat and beat furiously with a wooden spoon until you have a smooth heavy dough.

2) Put the pan back on a low heat and beat the dough for about a minute to slightly cook the dough. Tip the dough into a large mixing bowl and leave to cool until tepid.

3) Beat the eggs in a bowl until combined, then gradually beat them into the dough. The dough should be very shiny and paste-like.

4) Spoon the pastry into a piping bag fitted and (try to) pipe 12 x 10 cm lengths on a baking tray.

5) Bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Then, without opening the door (very important, apparently!), reduce the oven temperature to 170ºC and bake for 10 minutes, or until golden-brown and crisp.

6) Remove the tray from the oven and carefully make a small hole in the side of each éclair to allow steam to escape. Return to the oven and bake for five more minutes. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool.

7) For the filling, whip the cream (it has to be as cold as possible, I left both the cream and the bowl in the fridge for the whole night). Start beating it and add the sugar carefully. Keep beating (slow speed) until it's whipped.

8) Once the éclairs have cooled, cut down the length of one side of each éclair and pipe in the whipped cream (my whipping technique still needs a bit of practice).

9) Melt the chocolate and allow it to cool slightly. Dip the tops of the éclairs in the chocolate and let the chocolate set before serving. They taste better once they have been on the fridge for a while.

About the book:

Title: The Silent Hours
Author: Cesca Major
Published: June 4th 2015 by Corvus
Amazon | Amazon UK
Blurb: An epic, sweeping tale of love and loss inspired by heartrending true events in the Unoccupied Zone of wartime France. 

The Silent Hours follows three people whose lives are bound together, before war tears them apart:

Adeline, a mute who takes refuge in a convent, haunted by memories of her past;

Sebastian, a young Jewish banker whose love for the beautiful Isabelle will change the course of his life dramatically;

Tristin, a nine-year-old boy, whose family moves from Paris to settle in a village that is seemingly untouched by war.

Beautifully wrought, utterly compelling and with a shocking true story at its core, The Silent Hours is an unforgettable portrayal of love and loss.

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11 comentaris

  1. I love eclairs but have never made them myself, though I've made choux pastry before. I'm not very confident about my piping skills.

  2. Your eclairs look beautiful! We have several great French bakeries near us, so I confess I don't make eclairs, I get them there.

  3. I adore eclairs though I've never made them. I've experimented with choux a few times though so I'll have to give these a try!

  4. I love eclairs but haven't made them myself. I used to bake all the time, lately I've been thinking about starting again.

  5. Can you see the, the awe...on my face? Amazing!

  6. This sounds like a truly lovely book, with recipe to match. I've made eclairs, more often cream puffs, but need to do it again. The ones you buy are usually not as good.

  7. OOoh, I have a real weakness for eclairs and profiteroles! Cheers from Carole's Chatter!

  8. I'm impressed -- I would never have thought of making eclairs at home. They look yummy!

    Joy's Book Blog

  9. Beautiful éclairs -and I'm looking forward to reading this lovely-sounding book too.

  10. We must be on the same wavelength, because I did profiteroles (cream puffs) today. Yours look delicious.