In my voyage through the world of choux pastry the latest discovery was simply my definition of a perfect bite – light, yet rich of flavours, a bit fruity and indulgently chocolaty. The choux shells of course are very traditional but this time I wanted to experiment with the filling.  Chocolate – orange is also another classic, however I wanted my mini éclairs light and almost healthy (regardless what the definition of a healthy éclair is!) but yet with a bit of a special twist which came from the candied blood oranges.  Experiment – completely successful and these blood orange chocolate ricotta mini éclairs are so delicious and so not so naughty that you are more than allowed a second+ bite!

The recipe is very simple and the measurements for the filling are just a rough guide. To achieve the result you desire, keep tasting the cream as you go and add whatever is needed to reach your ‘perfect’. Now this was the line you were waiting for, wasn’t it!

For the choux shells:

120ml water

55g butter

65g flour

½ tsp. sugar

¼ tsp. salt

2 eggs

For the ricotta chocolate orange filling:

250g  ricotta

80g dark chocolate (best 70% cocoa solids) – melted

1-2 tbsp. cocoa powder

1 -2 tbsp. icing sugar

1 tbsp. freshly squeezed orange juice

Zest from 1 orange

For the candied (blood) orange:

1 blood or regular orange 

1 cup sugar

1 cup water

If you want to go all the way and actually do the candied orange decorations make sure you start at least a day ahead.  This is of course completely optional, however if you are candling any fruit you need to allow a safe 24h for the fruits to dry completely.

Slice the oranges in circles or semicircles very thinly. Remove all seeds. Put the cup of water in a pan and add the sugar. Bring to boil and let the sugar dissolve completely. Put the oranges in the sugar syrup and let them boil over low heat for about 40min. Once ready, take them out and let them dry on a rack for 16  – 24 hours.

Now, back to the main point 🙂 Start with preparing the choux dough. Mix the flour with the salt and the sugar. Add the water and the butter in a pan and bring to boil. Once boiling and the butter is completely melted remove the pan from the heat and add the flour mix. Stir with spatula until you get an even sticky mixture. Once ready, transfer the dough in a cold bowl. Set the dough aside and let it cool down. Then add the eggs one by one and mix with the spatula until you have nice smooth dough that easily comes off the bowl.

Transfer the dough into a piping bag. Have a tray lined with baking sheet ready. Pipe the éclairs at the size you want them but make sure you leave enough space in between. Brush them with egg to give them a bit of shine. Bake at preheated oven at 2000C for 15min, then reduce the oven to 1800C and bake for another 20-25 min. Take the éclairs out the oven and let them cool on a rack.

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Once the éclairs are in the oven prepare the filling. Using a mixer beat the ricotta with the icing sugar, cocoa powder and orange juice. Then add the melted chocolate and peel and beat again. Taste the cream and add more sugar if needed. Keep the mousse in the fridge until you are ready to pipe it into the éclairs.

Using a piping bag and a sharp plastic or metal ending, pipe the filling into each éclair. Make a hole in the éclair with a knife if needed. To ensure the filling is spread out evenly pipe in 2 different parts of the éclair.

The last bit is the decoration. If you struggle with time, you can just dust them with icing sugar, it will do the job. Here I melted some dark chocolate and using a piping bag I drew random lines across the éclairs. To finish I added pieces of candied oranges and sprinkled with some orange peels. In all cases these little bites are a real treasure – so light and sooo heavenly delicious! Enjoy!

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