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Chocolate eclairs

Brush a large baking sheet lightly with oil, then dust it with sifted flour. Using the handle of a wooden spoon, or a finger, mark 10 cm (4 inch) long lines on the baking sheet, 4 cm (1 1/2 inch)es apart.
TO PIPE CHOUX PASTE
Holding the bag at an angle of 45° to the baking sheet, pipe the paste along the guidelines. Raise the nozzle at the end of each line and cut off the paste cleanly.

ingredients

makes 8
100 g (4 oz) packet choux pastry mix
225 ml (8 fl oz) tepid water
vegetable oil and flour, for baking sheet

filling and icing

150 ml (1/4 pint) whipping cream
2 drops vanilla flavouring
15 g (1/2 oz) caster sugar
50 g (2 oz) plain chocolate, broken into pieces
knob of butter
2 - 3 tablespoons water
175 g (6 oz) icing sugar

method

1. Heat the oven to 200°C (400°F) Gas 6. Prepare a large baking sheet.

2. Put the pastry mix into a small bowl, add the water and beat with a rotary or hand-held electric whisk for 4 minutes. Put paste in piping bag fitted with a 2 cm (3/4 inch) plain nozzle, and pipe on to prepared baking sheet.

3. Bake in the oven for 40 minutes, until puffed and golden. With a palette knife, ease the eclairs off the
baking sheet and transfer to a wire rack. Split each one lengthways in half with a sharp knife, then scrape out and discard any uncooked pastry from the inside with a teaspoon. Leave to cool completely.

4. Make the filling: whip the cream until beginning to thicken, then add vanilla flavouring and caster sugar and continue whisking until thick but not stiff. Pipe or spoon the cream into the bottom half of each eclair, then replace the tops.

5. Put the chocolate, butter and 1 tablespoon water in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of hot water. Leave, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate has melted. Remove the bowl from the pan and beat in the sifted icing sugar, a little at a time. If necessary, beat in 1 - 2 more tablespoons water to thin the icing.

6. Spoon or spread the icing over the tops of the eclairs, then leave in a cool place to set. Serve as soon as possible.

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