- For the crème pâtissière:
- 2 cups milk
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 6 egg yolks
- 3 tablespoons arrowroot powder or cornstarch
- ⅓ cup lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon lemon extract, optional
- For the pâte à choux:
- 1 cup water
- 1 stick (1/4 pound) unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup all-purpose flour, sifted to remove lumps
- 4 large eggs
- 1 egg beaten with 1 teaspoon water for the egg wash
- For the meringue:
- 4 egg whites at room temperature
- 1 pinch cream of tartar
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- To make the crème pâtissière or pastry cream, place the milk, ¼ cup of sugar, lemon zest, 2 tablespoons butter, and the ½ teaspoon salt in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Stir to combine, and slowly bring to a gentle boil over medium heat. Remove from the heat.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, remaining ¼ cup of sugar, and the arrowroot powder until combined.
- While whisking, slowly add some of the hot milk mixture to the eggs to temper. Continue doing this until about half of the milk mixture has been added and the eggs are warm to the touch.
- Now add the tempered eggs to the saucepan and the remaining milk mixture while whisking.
- Return the saucepan to medium heat and cook, whisking continuously, until the mixture boils. Continue cooking for about 3 minutes until the mixture is thick and glossy.
- Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the lemon juice and the extract. Transfer the pastry cream to a chilled bowl and cover with plastic wrap directly on the cream to avoid a skin forming on the top. Chill.
- To make the pâte à choux, preheat the oven to 425ºF. Combine the water, butter, sugar, and salt and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Remove from the heat and stir in all of the flour using a wooden spoon.
- Return the pan to the heat and cook for 2-3 minutes until the dough forms and pulls away from the sides of the pan to form a ball. Remove from the heat and allow to rest for 5 minutes so that the dough cools slightly.
- Once the dough has cooled slightly, beat the eggs and then add them to the pan. Stir until a thick, even consistency is reached.
- Fill a pastry bag with the choux dough. Cut off to form a ½" opening on the end. On a parchment-lined baking sheet, pipe 3-4" lines of dough, leaving 2 inches between each one. Lightly brush the egg wash over each, and run the tines of a fork very gently just to create a slight line to help them puff evenly.
- Bake for 10 minutes at 425ºF. Then reduce the oven temperature to 375ºF and continue baking for 20-25 minutes, until pastries are golden brown and hollow sounding when tapped. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.
- Prepare the meringue by whipping the egg whites and the cream of tartar together until frothy. Slowly add in the sugar and continue to whip until thick and glossy with stiff peaks.
- To fill the éclairs, place the pastry cream in a pastry bag fitted with a filling tip or a thin metal round tip (a #3 or #4 works well). Use a wooden skewer or the tip of a small knife and create two holes on the bottom of both sides of the éclairs.
- Insert the tip into one hole and fill. Repeat on the other side until the pastry is full.
- Top the filled éclairs with the whipped meringue. Broil for 2-3 minutes or until golden brown. (Alternatively, you could use a torch to brown the meringue.) Serve immediately or chill until ready to serve. (The meringue may weep in the refrigerator if it is left more than a few hours.)
You could top these with a toasted Italian meringue. This is a bit more difficult, but the final meringue product is more stable and does not use raw egg whites.
Prep time: 1 hour
Cook time: 40 mins
Total time: 1 hour 40 mins
Recipe by Food for My Family at http://foodformyfamily.com/recipes/lemon-meringue-eclairs-baking-as-therapy