My family fought over these- quite literally. I took them to a family dinner and when I was leaving, I had people begging me to leave more for them to eat later. I did leave a bunch behind, but my Dad still called me names as I left with the remaining plate. They took me a bit of time to make, but oh my goodness were they worth it. I am now on a fruit and veggie diet because I ate WAY, WAY, WAY too many of these. But still, they were worth it.
For the Pastry:
1 stick butter
1 c. water
1 c. flour
1/4 tsp. salt
4 large eggs
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Lightly grease a large cookie sheet and set aside.
In medium saucepan, combine 1/2 cup butter and water. Bring to a boil, stirring to melt butter.
Reduce heat to low and stir in flour and salt with a wooden spoon until the mixture begins to form a stiff ball of dough.
Remove from heat and add eggs, one at a time, stirring vigorously after each addition to ensure they are incorporated. Work quickly, especially with the first one, to prevent it from cooking into scrambled eggs on the bottom of your warm pan.
With a spoon or pastry bag fitted with a large tip, spread/pipe the thick dough onto prepared cookie sheet into 10 strips approximately 1 1/2 x 4″ each. I used a large Ziploc bag and cut off a little corner.
Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 325 and bake another 20 minutes, until puffed and golden and hollow sounding when lightly tapped on the bottom. If you under cook them, they will flatten out.
When removed from oven, IMMEDIATELY pierce the ends almost through to the other side with a sharp knife to let steam escape and prevent any sogginess in the middle. This hole is also where you will be piping your filling into. Let cool completely before filling and icing (this will only take about half an hour).
For the Custard Filling:
1 (4 serving size) package instant vanilla pudding mix
2 cups milk (or as called for on pudding package)
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
dash of salt
Combine pudding and milk in a bowl and mix according to package directions. In a separate bowl, beat the cream with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Beat in 1/4 cup sugar, 1 tsp vanilla, and dash of salt. Fold whipped cream into pudding.
Scoop mixture into pastry bag fitted with a smallish tip and pipe mixture into centers of eclairs until full. This is a bit of a messy business, but worth it for ease of eating and pretty appearance. I ended up slicing the eclairs in half horizontally, filled the bottoms with cream, and replaced the tops. It was much simpler, but probably not as pretty. You will probably have some custard leftover.
For the Chocolate Icing:
2 oz semisweet chocolate (or 1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips)
2 Tbsp butter
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 Tbsp hot water
Melt the chocolate and 2 Tbsp butter over low heat in a saucepan (or in the microwave, stirring after 30 seconds and giving additional 10 second increments as needed until fully melted). Stir in 1 cup icing sugar and 1 tsp vanilla. Stir in hot water, 1 Tbsp at a time, until icing is smooth and reaches desired consistency. Drizzle, pipe or spread over filled eclairs.
Store in the fridge.