Homemade Eclairs for St. Therese


Eclairs are known to be the favorite treat of St. Therese of Lisieux, so after binge watching some early episodes of that British baking show, I decided to try a recipe that I had been admiring for a while but was too afraid to try: Homemade Eclairs with Peanut Butter Mousse from Sally's Baking Addiction. I don't think St. Therese ever had Peanut Butter Mousse eclairs, but I think she would have loved them!


CHOUX PASTRY
1/2 cup (115g; 8 Tbsp) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
1/2 cup (120ml) water
1/2 cup (120ml) 2% or whole milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1 cup (125g) all-purpose flour

4 large eggs, beaten
egg wash: 1 egg beaten with 1 Tablespoon milk or water


Combine the butter, water, milk, salt, and granulated sugar together in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir until the butter has melted. Bring mixture to a simmer. Once simmering, reduce heat to low and add the flour all at once. Stir until the flour is completely incorporated and a thick dough clumps into a ball. Mash the dough ball against the bottom and sides of the pan for 1 minute, which gently cooks the flour. Remove from heat and transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Allow to cool down for a few minutes before adding the eggs in the next step.


Read this step in full before starting: With the mixer running on low speed, slowly add the eggs in 3-4 separate additions mixing for 30 seconds between each. The mixture might look curdled at first, but will come together as the mixer runs. Pour in the final addition of beaten eggs very slowly. Stop adding when the choux pastry has reached the desired texture: shiny, thick, and smooth with a pipe-able consistency. Any leftover egg can be used for egg wash. I ended up using all of mine. Dough can be used immediately or refrigerated up to 3 days. 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Mist or brush parchment paper with water. You want a nice moist environment for the choux to puff up. Transfer dough to a piping bag and pipe 4 inch long shells 2-3 inches apart. Bake for 20 minutes. DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN! After 20 minutes, turn oven down to 350 degrees and back for 10 - 15 more minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven and transfer to a cooling rack. Cool completely.



PEANUT BUTTER MOUSSE
1 cup (240ml) heavy cream
8 ounces (224g) full-fat brick style cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1 cup (120g) confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup (130g) creamy peanut butter*
salt, to taste

Make the peanut butter mousse: Using a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat heavy cream on medium-high speed until soft peaks form, about 3 minutes. Transfer to another mixing bowl. Using the same whisk attachment again (you don't need to clean in between), beat the cream cheese on medium-high speed until creamy and smooth. Add the confectioners’ sugar, vanilla extract, and peanut butter then beat on medium-high speed until combined and creamy. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the whipped cream until combined. Taste. Stir in a pinch of salt, if desired. Transfer mousse to a piping bag fitted with a small round or open star piping tip. Set aside as you make the ganache.


CHOCOLATE GANACHE
1 cup (240ml) heavy cream
8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips


Make the chocolate ganache: Place chocolate in a bowl. Heat the cream in a small saucepan until it just starts steaming, not boiling.  Pour over chocolate and let it sit for 2-3 minutes to gently soften the chocolate. Slowly stir until completely combined and chocolate has melted.

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Let the ganache cool on the counter while you fill the shells with the mousse. I piped them on both ends to make sure they were nice and full. Dip the tops in ganache and leave to firm up. Ganache will set up in about an hour at room temp or about 30 minutes in the fridge. Enjoy! 

FYI... all three components (pastry shells, mousse, and ganache) can be made ahead of time. To assemble, just warm the ganache in the microwave for 10 seconds at a time to soften. 

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