A couple of weeks ago Hubby and I were have a conversation about what treats we would like for our, now annual, Christmas Eve Feast. It was as part of this chat that Hubby decided to mention that this Christmas Eve Santa would rather not see the regular mince pie and bottle of beer combo ... he has a physique to maintain and a sleigh to drive after all! Apparently Santa advised Hubby of this request last Christmas Eve but the message seem to have been on divert for 12 months. Further to this, Santa would like Chocolate Eclairs and a glass of milk ... Rudolph is happy to maintain the status quo with a carrot, but just a wee one as our house is one of the last stops of the night and he is quite full by the time he reaches us!
So this got me to thinking. Chocolate Eclairs are no problem at all, I've made them before and have actually had an idea tucked away for some time now to make mini versions with cocoa nibs in the chocolate topping for a bit of texture and some added pizzazz. But cream buns are a different kettle of fish entirely. I've tried making them before and all was going well right up to the point when I needed to pop the air holes in the underside to dry the insides out. Every time the rotten things would deflate and end up looking very pathetic, once this happens no amount of baking helps to puff those babies back up!
My Mum is a bit of a dab hand at the old cream puff baking. In the late eighties and early nineties her party piece would be a showstopping mound of profiteroles (Mum is more sophisticated than me!) piled high on a plate, stuffed full to bursting with chantilly cream and covered in the most amazing, finger licking good, chocolate sauce. Oh how my mouth waters at the very thought! So I asked Mum for some tips and what do you know, turns out I was baking them long enough!
To make my cream puffs I followed Rachel Allen's recipe for Choux Pastry that is in her 'Bake' cookbook. The same recipe can be found online at the Good Food website, so I haven't copied it out here. The recipe worked a charm though, and so Santa will be pleased to know that Mini Chocolate Eclairs with Chocolate Cocoa Nib Icing will be on the menu this Christmas Eve ... who am I to deny the big guy??