Black Forest choux buns & éclairs

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Fruity, tangy and suitable chocolatey, with a cheeky kirschy-kick!

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Black Forest Gateau remains one of my favourite desserts: shamelessly retro, I still wheel it out from time to time for a dessert. It is also fun to re-work those classic flavours into other desserts – such as these choux. And it was a thrill to get to make my version in an episode of Best Home Cook:

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My Black Forest Gateau dessert on “Britain’s Best Home Cook”

When I make choux pastry for buns or éclairs, I often go for a sticky fruit topping with some level of fruityness inside rather than just melted chocolate or a chocolate glaze: for me, it is the sharpness of the fruit that pops in my mouth.

Not that I would EVER turn down an éclair that is smothered in chocolate!!!!!

Choux pastry

This is a standard choux pastry (the recipe for making and baking this is in one of my earlier posts: here). The pastry can be shaped as éclairs or choux buns. If using the recipe link, you just want the pastry recipe and instructions, baking them for 15-20 minutes for the buns or until golden brown and well risen.

If you want them extra-crispy, once baked and cooled, pop them in the oven again at 160C for 5-10 mins.

Top tip:

If you have peaks of the choux pastry sticking up before they bake, use a wet finger to smooth it off. That way you avoid potential burning of the peaks in the oven. In addition, moisture and choux pastry are very fine bed-fellows, with moisture adding to the rise and texture of the baked pastries.

Recipe: Black Forest choux – serves 6-8 generously

  • choux pastry: make a batch from the recipe for here
Cherry purée (for filling and icing)
  • about 200g black or red cherries (you can use stoned fresh cherries or tinned)
  • 1 tablespoon caster sugar
  • 2-3 tablespoons Kirsch
White chocolate cream filling
  • about 300ml double cream
  • 80g melted and cooled (but not set!) white chocolate
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
Cherry fondant icing
  • about 100g fondant icing sugar
  • 2-3 tablespoons cherry pureé
To finish (optional: any of)
  • melted chocolate of choice for drizzling or piping over
  • melted and then set chocolate decorations (see below recipe)

(1) Make the choux buns (see link above) and cool.

(2) For the cherry purée: simply blitz the cherries with the sugar and kirsch to give a smooth pulp. You can instead make a simple jam by boiling the cherries with sugar and water for about 30 mins until sticky, but I quite like the sharp freshness of the purée.

(3) For the cream filling: whisk the cream and vanilla until it forms firm peaks. Fold in the chocolate.

(4) For the icing: mix the icing sugar with enough of the cherry purée to form a fairly thick icing – if you drop some off a spoon it slowly falls back into the bowl.

To assemble:

(5) Split the buns in half and dip the top halves in the icing, pressing them into the icing to get an even coverage. You want to dip them so they are at least half-submerged.

(6) Carefully lift out, shake off the excess and invert, placing them on a cooling rack (with a tray or greaseproof underneath to catch any drips. A palette knife is invaluable here. If decorating the tops, such as with melted chocolate, let them to start to set for 15 minutes or so and then drizzle the chocolate on top.

(7) Spoon a little cherry pureé into the bases of each bottom pastry and then either spoon or pipe the white chocolate cream on top. Place the top halves back on (the palette knife is helpful here again) and chill until you are ready to eat.

Note: I sometimes add a small chocolate disk or strip on top – see below: as well as upping the chocolate tone of the pastries (no bad thing!), you can then press down on the chocolate discs gently to ensure the top halves of the éclair stay in place.

Chocolate discs/strips

My go-to chocolate decoration is usually strips or discs. All you do is simply melt or temper chocolate of choice, pour onto greaseproof or acetate and leave until set.

With these chocolate decorations, I mixed in some dehydrated cherries with the chocolate so that each bite gives a slightly sour chewiness among the crispness of the chocolate. But ingredients such as chopped nuts, other dried fruits, crushed biscuits or crushed coffee beans work brilliantly.

It is best to set at room temperature rather than the fridge to avoid the chocolate blooming or discolouring.

Similar recipes:

Author: Philip

Finalist on Britain’s Best Home Cook (BBC Television 2018). Published recipe writer with a love of growing fruit & veg, cooking, teaching and eating good food.

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