Italians like the simple delight of finely baked pastries. From pasticiotti to cream puffs, using recipes handed down through generations and using the finest ingredients, these handmade baked specialties have authentic Old World flair and flavor. These chocolate-hazelnut eclairs with Frangelico filling are mouthwatering pastries with perfect taste. First, I tried them in old-Italian pasticceria in Rome and since then I often make them in my kitchen.
For the choux pastry:
- 6 1/2 tablespoons butter
- 1 cup (plus 2 tablespoons) all-purpose flour
- 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
For the Frangelico filling:
- 2/3 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 tablespoon powdered sugar, sifted
- 9 oz. cream cheese softened
- 2 tablespoons Frangelico liqueur
- 2 oz. dark chocolate, finely chopped
For the chocolate glaze:
- 4 oz. dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
- 4 1/2 tablespoons butter
- 1/4 cup roasted hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
To make the choux pastry:
- Preheat oven to 425°F/ 220°C/ Gas Mark 7. Grease two baking trays.
- Bring 1/2 cup water and butter to a boil. Put flour and whisk with a wooden spoon until mixture comes away from base and sides of pan and creates a smooth ball. Transfer to an electric mixer and slowly beat in eggs until mixture becomes glossy. Then, transfer to a piping bag with a 1-inch plain tip.
- Pipe 2 1/2 inch lengths of the mixture, 1 inch apart, on the prepared trays and bake for exactly 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350°F/180°C/ Gas Mark 4, and bake for additional 10 minutes, or until lightly browned. Next, split éclairs in 1/2 and remove any soft centers. Return to trays and bake for 5 minutes, or till the éclairs are dried out. Remove and let them cool. In the meantime, prepare the filling.
To make the filling:
- Whisk heavy cream and powdered sugar to soft peaks. Beat Frangelico and cream cheese until smooth. Fold in chocolate then whipped cream and let it chill.
To make the chocolate glaze:
- Mix chocolate and butter in a saucepan. Stir over low heat until smooth.
- Spoon filling into 12 éclair halves. Then, dip remaining halves into chocolate glaze and sprinkle with some chopped hazelnuts. Once the glaze is firm, sandwich éclair halves together. Serve.