you are about to get schooled on chocolate eclairs.
this delicious pastry as you probably already suspected is believed to have its roots in 19th century france. traditionally it consists of a crisp hollow shell made with your typical choux dough (my favorite pastry element ever), topped with
a chocolate glaze and piped full of coffee or chocolate pastry cream. i can hear you mumbling inside your head: "i thought it was traditionally filly with vanilla cream". yes, one would think such a thing; if they were american. i am american and that it what i thought, i will explain why.
here in fabulous america we make something called a "long john" which -like yams and sweet potatoes- we have decided are the same as eclairs. while interesting in name and definitely americanized; a long john is not the same as an eclair. they may look similar to someone who doesn't have their glasses but they are made out of very different things. long johns are really just long hotdog shaped doughnuts filled with vanilla pudding and topped with chocolate.
we do like to soak our food in molten lard. so in other words the next time you are in dunkin donuts and you see those long chocolate covered doughnut things in the corner - do not call them eclairs. speaking of dunking donuts; were you aware they have an item called "cake stick" also something called "jelly stick"? what tha? seriously!? i don't know how you feel about this, but i don't want to eat anything that has taken the stick form of itself.
anyways back to the story. so you can see how we have come to mix these two items up with each other. we like our sweets to be cakey - none of that wussy light as air baked pastry "shell" business. which brings me to boston creme pie. ah yes, if you think about it: vanilla pastry creme, chocolate glaze and some other sweet cushiony element in-between. very similar, just switch out the choux shell for a sponge cake and viola! you've just invented boston creme pie.
hopefully you find this as interesting as me: the 1st known english language recipe for eclairs was in late 19th century Boston Cooking School Cook Book. that is correct the first known english recipe was in boston! ha, very clever. and the chef at the parker house hotel (where boston creme pie came from) was of-course french. bit of a loop, eh?
all that said, i am thoroughly against bastardizing a culinary item. but i do have to agree with the rest of america and say that the vanilla filling is by far superior. so the vanilla filling stays - the rest is old school eclair baby.
so this brings me to this cupcake. i had started out thinking that i wanted to make mini boston creme pies, but then realized that the best vanilla pastry creme recipe i have ever tried is my own (yes i am bragging) and that is for my eclairs. ok, so i fill a cupcake with eclair creme, slather on the chocolate glaze and what do we have? i don't know a chocolate eclair cupcake? yep, full blooded american.
CHOCOLATE ECLAIR CUPCAKES
1 tbs cornstarch
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp almond extract
4 oz butter
2 eggs, separated
pinch of cream of tartar
2 tbs sugar
*preheat oven to 350F, line your pan
*sift together flour, cornstarch, baking powder & salt
*in separate bowl combine the milk, vanilla and almond
*in a separate bowl, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar until soft peaks form. add the 2tbs sugar and beat until
shiny and stiff peaks form.
*in separate bowl cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy
*add the egg yolks only, one at a time
*add 1/3 of the flour mixture, beat to combine.
*add 1/2 of the milk mixture, beat to combine
*repeat until all of the milk and flour are added, ending on the flour
*gently fold in the whipped egg whites.
*spoon into prepared pan, cook for 20 minutes until toothpick is clean
*once cooled cut out a small area from the top of the cupcake and fill with the pastry cream. cut off the access of cake
from the served piece and place back on the top of the cupcake.
*top with the chocolate glaze
VANILLA PASTRY CREAM:
1c whole milk
1/2 vanilla bean, split and seeded
3 egg yolks
2 tbs cornstarch
1 1/2 tsp cold butter
*heat milk and vanilla bean to boil, turn off heat and infuse for 15 minutes
* in a separate bowl whisk yolks and sugar to light and fluffy
*add cornstarch to yolks and whisk until no lumps
*whisk in 1tbs of the hot milk
*whisk in remaining milk
*strain egg mix into saucepan, cook over medium heat whisking constantly until thick and slowly boiling
*remove from heat and add butter
*put plastic wrap directly on top and chill for 2 hours
1/2c heavy cream
4 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped
*heat cream until you can see bubbles forming at the edge
*take off heat and add the chocolate, let sit for a minute then stir to smooth