<p>I have never ever made éclairs more delicious than this. Imagine surprising your love ones with a box full of homemade éclairs, filled with a delicate lemon cream, covered with soft italian meringue and a super thin layer of white chocolate. Yumm. They will love you forever. These éclairs are an exquisite delicacy. The éclair by itself is soft, fluffy and delicious, but when you add lemon cream you take the dessert on a whole other level. This lemon cream is unbelievably citrusy, incredibly full of flavour and it smells like lemons, beautifully. The Italian meringue adds another foamy texture and to make it over the top we also added a thin layer of white chocolate. Give it a try, you will love it! </p>
To make the lemon cream, place the lemon juice, zest of two lemons, eggs and caster sugar in a large bowl. Using a hand whisk, mix well to combine. Place the bowl over the saucepan of boiling water to cook the lemon cream au bain marie. Sit the heatproof bowl over a pan of barely simmering water (a bain-marie) and allow to slowly cook, for about 15 minutes, stirring constantly, so that it thickens. The lemon cream temperature has to reach 83°C / 181 °F.
Remove the bowl from the bain-marie. Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve. Cut the butter into pieces and add it slowly, one by one to the lemon cream. Let the every piece of butter melt completely before adding another small piece. After adding 2/3 of all the butter add the rest of the butter and whip the mixture with a handheld immersion blender on high speed for 5 minutes. Pour into a piping bag and set in the refrigerator until required.
choux pastry for the éclairs
Preheat the oven to 210°C / 410 °F. Make the choux pastry. In a medium saucepan, bring the water, milk, sugar, sea salt and butter to a boil. Add all the flour. Using a spatula, mix it well. Lower the heat to medium-high heat and continue until the mixture pulls away from the sides of the saucepan, it will take about a minute. Transfer the dough to a bowl and slowly add the eggs, one by one, using a hand mixer. Transfer the dough to a piping bag fitted with a round pastry tip.
bake the choux pastry for the éclairs
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Pipe the choux pastry about 16 cm / 6 inches long, leaving enough space in between each choux pastry line. Place the baking sheet into the oven and immediately lower the oven temperature to 175°C / 350 °F. Bake for 30 - 40 minutes or until golden brown. Set the baked éclairs on a wire rack and cool completely until filling.
If you break one open, the center should be completely cooked.
Prepare the Italian meringue. Bring the water to a boil with the caster sugar and cook to 121°C / 250 °F. When the mixture reaches. Meanwhile, using an electric hand mixer, whisk the egg whites to very soft peaks in a separate bowl. Slowly pour in the hot sugar syrup. Increase the speed on maximum high and continue to whisk for 2-3 minutes or until the meringue has cooled. Put the meringue into a piping bag fitted with a round pastry tip.
White chocolate pieces
To make the white chocolate pieces, melt the white chocolate over the saucepan of boiling water. Lightly oil the work surface, lay the parchment paper over it and press against it, to be sure the parchment paper is smooth. Spoon the chocolate on to the parchment paper and spread it in a thin, even layer. Carefully lift it and move to a baking sheet. Cool it for about 5 minutes. The top of the chocolate will appear matte. The chocolate should be cut at this point, before it has hardened completely. The size of the chocolate rectangles should match the length of the éclairs. Before you are ready to use the chocolate pieces, put the pan into a refrigerator for 5 minutes, to harden it completely.
Assemble the éclairs
To assemble the éclairs, use a round pastry tip and make three holes about 2 cm / 1 inch apart on the bottom of the éclair. Insert the lemon cream through the holes. Pipe the Italian meringue in a spiral pattern over the top of the each éclair. Using the blow torch brown the top the meringue. Top with a white chocolate rectangle and repeat with the remaining éclairs. Eclairs are best eaten right away, so enjoy.