What do eclairs, cream puffs, and churros have in common? Well, other than being hard-to-stop-eating-them-delicious, it would be their dough. All three puff pastries are made from a Pate a Choux, pronounced "pat-ee-shoe", dough. Eclairs, known as relampagos in Spanish, are identical to cream puffs in every way, they are just baked into a different shape and can sometimes have different, more whipped-cream like, fillings. Churro dough differs slightly from relampagos and cream puff dough in that it usually has more sugar and less egg.
I have tried a large variety of recipes for choux dough. A quick search of the recipes out there will show that most people use milk to make this dough. I prefer to use water only in my dough because I have found that when you add milk to a recipe that already has so many eggs, the result comes out tasting, and smelling (!), very similar to an egg-y snack called popovers. Popovers are great, don't get me wrong, but they are definitely not meant to go with fine pastry cream.
Many recipes for choux dough also use a lot of butter. I have nothing against butter either, but by trial and error I have found that I prefer the taste of vegetable oil in my choux dough. Because some butter is needed to help bind the dough together, I designed a recipe that uses both butter and oil.
I also borrow from the churro recetas and use brown sugar instead of white sugar in my recipe for choux dough. I like to use more sugar than a typical relampagos dough has as well, again following more of the pattern for making churros than eclairs.
To add a Salvadoran twist to relampagos, I flavor the eclair cream filling, as well as the icing that goes on top, with horchata, a typical Salvadoran rice drink. You will notice that my recipe for the eclair cream, (crema de relampagos), is very similar to my leche poleada with only minor variations.
1 cup of all purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. butter
2 tsp. vegetable oil
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Horchata Pastry Cream:**See Note at Bottom
3 egg yolks
1 cup whole milk (or 2% will work also if that is what you have)
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup fresh horchata (I used Augua Frescas by KLASS, horchata flavor. You just have to add sugar and water to the drink mix powder.)
1/2 cup granulated white sugar
1/8 cup cornstarch
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 Tbsp. salted butter
Horchata Eclair Glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
2 Tbsp. horchata ((I used Augua Frescas by KLASS, horchata flavor. You just have to add sugar and water to the drink mix powder.)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
- Heat water, butter, oil, and sugar in a medium sized skillet until butter dissolves. Do not stir this mixture at all!
- Meanwhile, sift together flour and salt.
- Once butter has melted and liquid begins to steam, add in flour mixture all at once.
- Reduce heat to medium low.
- Stir vigorously for 1-2 minutes until flour is completely combined and there are no floury bumps within the dough.
- Remove dough from heat and place into clean bowl.
- Make a well out of the dough so that it can cool down.
- Once dough is warm in temperature, add the eggs in one at a time, mixing on high speed after each one.
- Pour dough into pastry bag or piper and pipe out into eclair or cream puff shapes onto a greased cookie pan.
- Place dough in oven at 425 for 15 minutes.
- After 15 minutes, rotate the pan so that the back is now in front and front is now in back and cook for another 15 minutes at 350 with the oven door slightly ajar.
- Once dough has puffed up and is golden brown on top, turn oven off and let dough cool down for about 1-2 hours. This is done so that the pastry dough will not "collapse" when you move it from the warm air in the oven to the cold air outside - something that pate a choux dough loves to do!
Horchata Pastry Cream:
- Combine egg, egg yolks, and 1/4 cup sugar and whisk until combined and creamy.
- Add in cornstarch and whisk again until combined.
- In a medium sized skillet, heat cream, milk, horchata, remaining 1/4 cup of sugar, and vanilla extract on medium, stirring constantly.
- Once the mixture is warm and starts steaming, add half of it to the egg mixture (this is called tempering and is done to prevent the eggs from scrambling).
- Whisk together the egg/milk mixture quickly and then add it back into the milks mixture.
- Continue to stir the mixture constantly on medium heat for another 2-4 minutes until the mixture begins to thicken to the consistency of a pastry cream.
- Once thickened, remove from heat and pour into a metal pan.
- Place metal plan in an ice bath to cool cream down.
- Once cream has been cooled to room temperature, wrap it with Saran wrap (to prevent skin from forming) and place in fridge for a few hours before filling eclairs.
Horchata Eclair Glaze:
- Combine all ingredients together.
- After you have filled your eclairs and/or cream puffs, dip them upside down into the glaze.