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Mini eclairs, filled with a homemade pastry cream, are much easier than you may expect!
To make the vanilla pastry cream, heat the half-and-half and salt in a small saucepan over medium heat until simmering—just before the boiling point—stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile, in a medium heatproof bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until creamy. Add the cornstarch to the egg mixture and whisk until the mixture has thickened and has become a light pale yellow color.
When the half-and-half begins to simmer, remove the pan from the heat and slowly pour the milk mixture into the egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly. Return the mixture to the pot and place over medium heat. Whisk constantly until the mixture has thickened and bubbles start to form on the surface, about 2-5 minutes.
Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter and vanilla. Strain the pastry cream through a fine mesh sieve set over a medium bowl. Press plastic wrap directly on the surface, and place in the refrigerator to chill completely, at least 2 hours.
While the pastry cream is chilling, make the pate choux. Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats, set aside until needed.
In a small saucepan, add the milk, water, butter, and salt, and set over medium-high heat. Heat up the mixture until it begins to boil, whisking occasionally. Remove the pan from the heat and, with a wooden spoon, stir in the flour. Return the pot to stove over medium heat, and stir until the dough starts to form a ball and pulls away from the sides of the pan.
Transfer the dough to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the beater attachment. Beat the mixture on medium speed for 1 minute, and then add the eggs, one at a time. Continue beating for 20 more seconds until the eggs are fully incorporated and the pastry dough is smooth.
Place the dough in a pastry bag fitted with a ½-inch round tip. Pipe 2 ½-inch-long éclairs on the prepared baking sheets. Bake the pastries until they turn golden brown, about 20-25 minutes. Do not open the oven while the eclairs are baking! Remove from the oven and immediately transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.
To assemble the éclairs, carefully split the éclairs in half lengthwise. Place the pastry cream in a piping bag and pipe a large dollop of the pastry cream on the bottom of each éclair. Top with the top half of the éclair. To finish, either drizzle with melted chocolate or sprinkle with confectioners sugar. Enjoy!
These last up to 7 days in a sealed container in the refrigerator.
Éclair recipe adapted Martha Stewart. Pastry cream adapted from Annie Eats, who adapted it from Baking Illustrated.
Nancy is the Coupon Clipping Cook, which means she not only has an astounding number of recipes to share with us (her TK recipe box is busting at the seams!) but she's also got loads of money-saving tips in her blog (she worked at a grocery store for a number of years, so she knows her stuff). She has some pretty amazing creations, like Roasted Garlic Potato Soup and Nutty Coconut Chicken. Go check them out!
Heather is a Texas native and the blogger behind Heather's Dish. She's mom to Weston, wife to Nate, and they live in Little Rock, Arkansas with their two "stubborn and saucy" dogs Bunker and Keira. In her blog, she shares her photographs, random musings (serious and silly alike), and all kinds of scrumptious recipes---and not just evil variations of her favorite mac and cheese. Her enviable TK recipe box is a testament to that. Go see for yourself!