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The Eclair Recipe You've Always Wanted

The custard-filled pastries aren't as intimidating as they look.

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In this video, Samantha Seneviratne (behind Love, Cake) walks through her recipes for chocolate-topped eclairs and cream puffs. Watch above to see how the pastry chef/cookbook author does it, starting with her fool-proof dough.

Chocolate-Almond Eclairs and Cream Puffs

Makes about 12 small eclairs or about 18 cream puffs

Dough6 tablespoons (¾ stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces2 teaspoons sugar½ teaspoon kosher salt¾ cup water¾ cup all-purpose flour3 large eggs

Cream4 large egg yolks⅓ cup sugar4 tablespoons cornstarchOne pinch kosher salt1 cup whole milk1 ½ cup heavy cream, divided½ teaspoon almond extract2 tablespoons (¼ stick) unsalted butter

¾ cup heavy cream½ teaspoon kosher salt6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped (about 1½ cups)Toasted sliced almonds, for sprinkling

1. To prepare the dough, bring the butter, sugar, salt, and water to a simmer over medium heat in a medium saucepan, stirring with a wooden spoon to encourage the butter to melt. As soon as it comes to a boil, add the flour, stirring constantly, until the dough forms a ball and pulls away from the sides of the pan, about 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat and let the mixture cool for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring the dough occasionally. (You don't want the eggs to scramble in the next step.)

2. Add the eggs, one at a time, stirring vigorously between each addition with a wooden spoon. The dough will break apart and slide around in the pot before it comes back together. Transfer the dough to a piping bag fitted with a round tip.

3. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Pipe the dough into 3-inch lengths about 3 inches apart. (For cream puffs, drop the dough in 2-tablespoon scoops about 3 inches apart on the prepared sheets. )With damp fingertip, flatten any points. Preheat to 450°F and bake until deep golden brown and puffed, rotating the sheets halfway through, 22 to 26 minutes. Let cool completely on a rack.

4. To prepare the cream, stir together the egg yolks, sugar, and cornstarch in a medium bowl until smooth. Set a fine-mesh sieve over a large bowl.

5. In a medium saucepan, bring the milk and 1 cup of the heavy cream to a simmer over medium heat. Add a little bit of the warm milk mixture to the yolk mixture and whisk to combine. Repeat this process a few times until all of the milk mixture has been incorporated into the yolk mixture. Return the mixture to the pan.

6. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly and making sure to get the edges, until the mixture begins to thicken, 2 to 4 minutes. (It's helpful to have both a spatula and a whisk handy while making the custard. Switch between the two.) Let it come up to a very slow boil and cook for 1 minute more. Strain the custard through the sieve into a clean bowl, and stir in the butter and the almond extract. Press plastic wrap onto the surface of the cream and refrigerate until cooled completely.

7. To prepare the glaze, bring the cream and salt to a simmer over medium heat. Remove from the heat and stir in the chocolate and salt. Let the mixture stand for 1 minute and then whisk to make a smooth sauce.

8. Whip the remaining ½ cup cream to soft peaks. Whisk the cooled almond cream to loosen it, then fold in the whipped cream. Transfer the cream to a pastry bag fitted with a fluted tip. Slice the top third off of each éclair and fill with cream. Dip the top of the top half in the glaze and replace it. (For cream puffs, insert the tip of the pastry bag into the bottom of each puff and fill. Dip the filled puffs in the glaze.) Top with almonds to serve.

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