I apologize in advance; I took the most random pictures of the eclair baking process.
So, I was a little nervous about making eclairs. It seemed like there were a lot of steps and more than a couple of things that could go wrong. But in the end, the process wasn't so hard (though it was messy!) and it was rewarding.
First we made the custard. I was able to use one of the wallet-friendly vanilla beans that I bought in England. Even though my David Lebovitz book warned me against cheap vanilla beans, mine seemed to work just great.
Unfortunately, my custard went a teeny bit too thick right at the end, and I lost a little custard to that. Thankfully, the eggy bits strained out very easily in my new sieve.
I covered it, chilled it, and all was well with the custard. Score!
Then it was time for the choux paste. If you're a nerd like me, you might wonder where the name choux paste comes from. It turns out that it translates into cabbage paste, thanks to the shape chefs used to pipe it into back in the day. Not particularly appetizing but it's okay. More interestingly, I found out that the high moisture content of the paste steams it during cooking to puff the pastry. Being a novice, I'm not so sure that this is different from all the other kinds of pastry... Nonetheless, the choux pastry making process went just fine. I only got a picture near the beginning of the process.
Piping the dough onto the baking sheet was easy. Watch out, it puffs up a lot during baking!
Making the chocolate sauce was super easy. Piping the cream into the pastries and dipping them was similarly easy. I had a lot of cleaning to do afterward, but it was fun using the pastry bag, etc, so it was worth it. When I ran out of custard, I filled the remaining pastries with whipped cream. Here's what the pastries looked like:
Yum! They were so good. I ate a lot all at once and basically felt sick all day long. I think it was probably worth it. I agree with His comment that the chocolate was a little overpowering. If I made these again, I would dip them into the chocolate sauce a little less liberally. But it's all good! I endorse this recipe.