These airy eclairs are simple to make, thanks to choux (cream-puff) pastry, which can be mixed, piped, and frozen ahead and baked on the day of the dinner. The ethereal whipped cream inside is infused with fresh vanilla bean. Macerating the strawberries with mint and a bit of sugar heightens the berries' sunny flavor. Artful pastry paper cradles each eclair for a decorative touch.
1/4 cup whole milk
1/4 cup water
1/2 stick unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 large eggs
Vanilla Ice Cream
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Line 2 baking sheets with parchment.
Bring milk, water, butter, and salt to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Remove from heat, and stir in flour. Return to heat, and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until mixture pulls away from sides of pan, about 4 minutes.
Transfer to the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed to cool slightly, about 1 minute. With machine running, add eggs, 1 at a time, mixing well after each addition. Transfer dough to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch round tip.
Pipe twenty 2 1/2-inch-long eclairs onto each sheet.
Bake until eclairs rise and are golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes.
Transfer to wire rack to cool.
Split eclairs in half lengthwise using a serrated knife.
Pipe vanilla cream onto eclair bottoms.
Spoon macerated berries on top of cream, and sandwich with eclair tops.
Dust with confectioners' sugar.
Bake the mini eclairs the day you plan on serving them.