Daring Bakers Bake Eclairs

Sunday, August 31, 2008

eclairs7

The first of the month always generates a bit of excitement in the food blogging world. You see, that’s usually the day that the new Daring Baker challenge is revealed. I was especially excited to see that the challenge for August was one of my favorite sweet treats ever – Chocolate Eclairs. And, not just any old eclairs, mind you, but Chocolate Eclairs from the man, himself, Pierre Herme! Woohoo!

I planned my strategy of when and how I was going to create these delectable little confections, and waited with anticipation for the assigned day I had chosen. Then, disaster struck! A few days before “E” Day, my oven just up and died. Yes, dear readers, it was deader than a doornail! After spewing a long stream of expletives, I was sure that I would have to miss this challenge. Then, I thought, “I’m a Daring Baker, for heaven’s sake, I can overcome this!” So, I spit in the face of adversity, made all of the individual components of the recipe, and hightailed it over to my mother’s house to bake my pastry in her brand new and marvelously functional oven!

eclairs6

Though the original recipe calls for a chocolate pastry cream, I decided to go with what I like best, which is a vanilla cream. For everything else, I stuck with the recipe as written.

Although, the recipe is quite long, with many different components, I sailed through most of it with ease. Everything came together beautifully for me until I actually baked my choux. I followed the directions to the letter, but my eclair shells just didn’t puff up as much as I’d hoped. They also deflated quite a bit after I removed them from the oven. I don’t know why this happened, but I’m attributing it to the staggering humidity and the fact that I had used an unfamiliar oven to bake them in. Even so, they were still fabulously delicious and well worth the effort!

eclairs5

Many thanks to Meeta and Tony for selecting such a wonderful recipe to challenge us this month!

Please take some time to see what the other Daring Bakers have created. I know you won’t be disappointed!

eclairs4

These eclairs consist of 3 elements:
- Pâte à Choux, also known as Choux Pastry or Cream Puff Dough
- Pastry Cream
- Chocolate glaze

Pierre Hermé’s Chocolate Éclairs
Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé
(makes 20-24 Éclairs)

• Cream Puff Dough (see below for recipe), fresh and still warm

1) Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Divide the oven into thirds by
positioning the racks in the upper and lower half of the oven. Line two baking sheets with
waxed or parchment paper.

2) Fill a large pastry bag fitted with a 2/3 (2cm) plain tip nozzle with the warm cream puff dough.
Pipe the dough onto the baking sheets in long, 4 to 41/2 inches (about 11 cm) chubby fingers.
Leave about 2 inches (5 cm) space in between each dough strip to allow them room to puff.
The dough should give you enough to pipe 20-24 éclairs.

3) Slide both the baking sheets into the oven and bake for 7 minutes. After the 7 minutes, slip the
handle of a wooden spoon into the door to keep in ajar. When the éclairs have been in the
oven for a total of 12 minutes, rotate the sheets top to bottom and front to back. Continue
baking for a further 8 minutes or until the éclairs are puffed, golden and firm. The total baking
time should be approximately 20 minutes.

Notes: The éclairs can be kept in a cool, dry place for several hours before filling.

Assembling the éclairs:

• Chocolate glaze (see below for recipe)
• Chocolate pastry cream (see below for recipe)

1) Slice the éclairs horizontally, using a serrated knife and a gently sawing motion. Set aside the
bottoms and place the tops on a rack over a piece of parchment paper.

2) The glaze should be barely warm to the touch (between 95 – 104 degrees F or 35 – 40
degrees C, as measured on an instant read thermometer). Spread the glaze over the tops of
the éclairs using a metal icing spatula. Allow the tops to set and in the meantime fill the
bottoms with the pastry cream.

3) Pipe or spoon the pastry cream into the bottoms of the éclairs. Make sure you fill the bottoms
with enough cream to mound above the pastry. Place the glazed tops onto the pastry cream
and wriggle gently to settle them.

Notes:

1) If you have chilled your chocolate glaze, reheat by placing it in a bowl over simmering water,
stirring it gently with a wooden spoon. Do not stir too vigorously as you do not want to create
bubbles.
2) The éclairs should be served as soon as they have been filled.

Pierre Hermé’s Cream Puff Dough
Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé
(makes 20-24 Éclairs)

• ½ cup (125g) whole milk
• ½ cup (125g) water
• 1 stick (4 ounces; 115g) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
• ¼ teaspoon sugar
• ¼ teaspoon salt
• 1 cup (140g) all-purpose flour
• 5 large eggs, at room temperature

1) In a heavy bottomed medium saucepan, bring the milk, water, butter, sugar and salt to the
boil.

2) Once the mixture is at a rolling boil, add all of the flour at once, reduce the heat to medium
and start to stir the mixture vigorously with a wooden spoon. The dough comes together very
quickly. Do not worry if a slight crust forms at the bottom of the pan, it’s supposed to. You
need to carry on stirring for a further 2-3 minutes to dry the dough. After this time the dough
will be very soft and smooth.

3) Transfer the dough into a bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or using your
handmixer or if you still have the energy, continue by hand. Add the eggs one at a time,
beating after each egg has been added to incorporate it into the dough.
You will notice that after you have added the first egg, the dough will separate, once again do
not worry. As you keep working the dough, it will come back all together again by the time you
have added the third egg. In the end the dough should be thick and shiny and when lifted it
should fall back into the bowl in a ribbon.

4) The dough should be still warm. It is now ready to be used for the éclairs as directed above.

Notes:

1) Once the dough is made you need to shape it immediately.

2) You can pipe the dough and the freeze it. Simply pipe the dough onto parchment-lined baking
sheets and slide the sheets into the freezer. Once the dough is completely frozen, transfer the
piped shapes into freezer bags. They can be kept in the freezer for up to a month.

Chocolate Pastry Cream
Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé

• 2 cups (500g) whole milk
• 4 large egg yolks
• 6 tbsp (75g) sugar
• 3 tablespoons cornstarch, sifted
• 7 oz (200g) bittersweet chocolate, preferably Velrhona Guanaja, melted
• 2½ tbsp (1¼ oz: 40g) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1) In a small saucepan, bring the milk to a boil. In the meantime, combine the yolks, sugar and cornstarch together and whisk in a heavy‐bottomed saucepan.

2) Once the milk has reached a boil, temper the yolks by whisking a couple spoonfuls of the hot milk into the yolk mixture.Continue whisking and slowly pour the rest of the milk into the tempered yolk mixture.

3) Strain the mixture back into the saucepan to remove any egg that may have scrambled. Place the pan over medium heat and whisk vigorously (without stop) until the mixture returns to a boil. Keep whisking vigorously for 1 to 2 more minutes (still over medium heat).Stir in the melted chocolate and then remove the pan from the heat.

4) Scrape the pastry cream into a small bowl and set it in an ice‐water bath to stop the cooking process. Make sure to continue stirring the mixture at this point so that it remains smooth.

5) Once the cream has reached a temperature of 140 F remove from the ice‐water bath and stir in the butter in three or four installments. Return the cream to the ice‐water bath to continue cooling, stirring occasionally, until it has completely cooled. The cream is now ready to use or store in the fridge.

Notes:

1) The pastry cream can be made 2‐3 days in advance and stored in the refrigerator.

2) In order to avoid a skin forming on the pastry cream, cover with plastic wrap pressed onto the cream.

3) Tempering the eggs raises the temperature of the eggs slowly so that they do not scramble.

Chocolate Glaze
Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé
(makes 1 cup or 300g)

• 1/3 cup (80g) heavy cream
• 3½ oz (100g) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
• 4 tsp (20 g) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces, at room temperature
• 7 tbsp (110 g) Chocolate Sauce (recipe below), warm or at room temperature

1)In a small saucepan, bring the heavy cream to a boil. Remove from the heat and slowly begin to add the chocolate, stirring with a wooden spoon or spatula.

2) Stirring gently, stir in the butter, piece by piece followed by the chocolate sauce.

Notes:

1) If the chocolate glaze is too cool (i.e. not liquid enough) you may heat it briefly in the microwave or over a double boiler. A double boiler is basically a bowl sitting over (not touching) simmering water.

2) It is best to glaze the eclairs after the glaze is made, but if you are pressed for time, you can make the glaze a couple days ahead of time, store it in the fridge and bring it up to the proper temperature (95 to 104 F) when ready to glaze.

Chocolate Sauce
Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé
(makes 1½ cups or 525 g)

• 4½ oz (130 g) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
• 1 cup (250 g) water
• ½ cup (125 g) crème fraîche, or heavy cream
• 1/3 cup (70 g) sugar

1) Place all the ingredients into a heavy‐bottomed saucepan and bring to a boil, making sure to stir constantly. Then reduce the heat to low and continue stirring with a wooden spoon until the sauce thickens.

2) It may take 10‐15 minutes for the sauce to thicken, but you will know when it is done when it coats the back of your spoon.

Notes:

1) You can make this sauce ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator for two weeks. Reheat the sauce in a microwave oven or a double boiler before using.

2) This sauce is also great for cakes, ice-cream and tarts.

more of what\'s cooking...

The Omnivore’s Hundred from Very Good Taste

Wednesday, August 27, 200828 Comments

I’ve been seeing a lot of this fun little survey around the blogs for the past week or so, and it intrigued me. I thought I’d try it for myself. The survey originated with Andrew at Very Good Taste as a list of foods that he feels every …

TWD: Chocolate Banded Ice Cream Torte

Tuesday, August 26, 200865 Comments

I was so excited when I saw that this week’s Tuesdays with Dorie recipe was another ice cream treat, but not for the reason you may think. Yes, this Chocolate Banded Ice Cream Torte is decadent and delicious, not to mention gorgeous. And yes, I do …

Is Truth Really Stranger Than Fiction? You Betcha! (Brown Sugar Toffee Ice Cream with Dulce de Leche Swirl)

Saturday, August 23, 200864 Comments

Samuel Langhorne Clemens, better known as America’s most famous literary icon, Mark Twain, once said that truth is stranger than fiction. Many times over the years, especially when I was actively practicing law, I’ve found these words to be quite true. Believe me, I could tell you stories that …

Me So Crazy for Misoyaki Salmon!

Thursday, August 21, 200851 Comments

Okay, okay! You can stop groaning over the cheesy title of this post. Admit it. It made you look, didn’t it? Besides, I prefer to think of it as a clever play on words. To each his own, I guess. This is what happens when you’re working on …

TWD: Granola Grabbers (And a Visit From Fay)

Tuesday, August 19, 200847 Comments

Well, we’ve battened down the hatches and have hunkered down for the long haul. The cars are in the garage (thanks to a feat of engineering and physics). We’ve got gallons of water and ice-filled coolers lined up in the laundry room. There are scads of canned …

And So It Begins Again (Raspberry-Orange Cream Scones Recipe)

Monday, August 18, 200829 Comments

Today is the first day of school. It hardly seems possible. Summer vacation has flown by so quickly, that I hardly had time to blink, and now, it’s over! I should be thrilled, like any self-respecting, harried mom/taxi driver would be, but I’m not. You see, this isn’t just …

Blueberry-Almond Crumble Bars

Wednesday, August 13, 200854 Comments

The other day, when I posted about that fantastic Blueberry Sour Cream Ice Cream for my weekly Tuesdays with Dorie gig, I also posted this photo.

The tasty looking little confection peeking out from underneath that oozy purple mound of ice cream is a blueberry-almond crumble bar. After …

TWD: Blueberry Sour Cream Ice Cream

Tuesday, August 12, 200864 Comments

This week’s Tuesdays with Dorie assignment was to make her Blueberry Sour Cream Ice Cream, located on page 434 of Baking: From My Home to Yours. I was psyched for this one! I’ve had my eye on it ever since Double Crusted Blueberry Pie week, when several …

Waiter! There’s a Hand in My Food! (And a Great, Big, Italian Sandwich)

Monday, August 11, 200847 Comments

Last week, my friend Cathy from The Noble Pig, wrote a great post about her experience with a rude diner in a restaurant. It struck a chord with me, as well as many others, judging by the large number of comments the post received. The issue of restaurant …

kiss the cook!

Hello and welcome to SGCC! I’m Susan, a professional writer, food columnist, recipe developer, wife, mother, daughter and sister, who used to be a lawyer in a previous life. My love of food comes from a long line of wonderful and creative Italian home cooks who didn’t always have a lot, but knew how to make a lot out of what they had. I hope that you enjoy yourself while you’re here, and visit often! read more >>

Just Browsing?
55 Knives
follow me!

    Follow Me on Pinterest



    Friday Food Lust



    Fine Cooking