1 cup water
3/4 stick butter (6 tablespoons)
1 TBSP sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
1 cup flour (5 3/4 ounces)
4 large eggs and 2 egg whites
Preheat oven to 425° F. Boil water, butter, salt and sugar. Add flour and remove from heat. Work mixture together and return to heat. Continue working the mixture until all flour is incorporated and dough forms a ball. Transfer mixture into bowl of a standing mixer and let cool for 3 or 4 minutes. With mixer on lowest speed add eggs, 1 at a time, making sure the egg is completely incorporated before adding the next egg. You will notice that after you have added the egg, the dough will separate. As you keep working the dough, it will come back all together again. Once the dough has come back together, add the next egg. In the end the dough should be thick and shiny and when lifted it should fall back into the bowl in a ribbon.
Once all eggs have been added and the mixture is smooth put dough into piping bag fitted with a round tip. Pipe immediately into golfball-size shapes, 2 inches apart onto parchment lined or silicone lined sheet pans (or use 2 spoons to shape dough into rounded spoonfuls on cookie sheet). Cook for 12 minutes, then turn the oven down to 350° F and bake for 10 more minutes or until golden brown (do not open oven during cooking process as Pate a choux needs steam to rise and opening the oven will cause the steam to escape and the pastries to collapse). Once they are golden brown, removed from the oven and pierce with a paring knife immediately to release steam. Cool away from drafts, then use for éclairs or chicken salad sandwiches, bag them and store on counter for up to a week or freeze for up to one month until ready to use. Makes 12 éclairs or 24-30 small puffs.
Recipe courtesy of Alton Brown from the Food Network. I prefer this recipe over others I have tried because of the additional egg whites. The egg whites produce a lighter, crisper cream puff that doesn’t collapse as easy after baking. I know I shouldn’t be concerned with fat content when making éclairs but I do like that this recipe uses less butter and only water (compared to the option of using half water and half cream as the liquid). The taste is fantastic and I find this recipe the easiest to use. These really are easy, just plan on a few mistakes on your first batch but going forward they are very simple to make.
If you don’t have a standing mixer you can mix the eggs in with a wooden spoon but it does take a lot of work. Be patient and keep mixing, the dough will separate but if you keep mixing it will eventually come back together. For more information on making Pate a Choux, watch Alton Brown’s Good Eats episode called “Choux Shine.”