Sunday, August 31, 2008

Daring Bakers: Eclairs

DBeclairs (11)

This month's challenge was a lot of fun and so delicious that I didn't need any help finishing them.. I practically ate all of them myself! It was amazing how something that was beaten, mixed and smeared around the pot so much would result in such a delicate pastry. If only this was the case for layer cakes, then I would never have to worry about toughness or chewiness. After piping out four eclairs, I realized that there just wouldn't be enough so I decided make the rest as puffs. Many daring bakers were complaining about their choux pastry deflating so I cranked up the oven temperature to 425 hoping that they would puff up like popovers. Well.. let's just say that it worked, but only for one. The rest deflated as soon as they were removed from the oven so I ate them as is while they were still warm. Suprisingly, they were really addicting plain and the eggy taste didn't bother me one bit. In fact, I loved it! My sole surviving choux pastry was left to cool while the second batch of puffs were in the oven.

DBeclairs

Luckily, none of the puffs deflated (probably due to their smaller size).. although I kind of wished some of them did so I could snack on a few more. I was almost tempted to skip the pastry cream and glaze all together and eat them warm. Then again, it would be such a shame not to enjoy them properly filled and glazed.

DBeclairs (2)

DBeclairs (7)

For the pastry cream, I omitted the chocolate and added vanilla extract. I was a little worried it would turn into vanilla flavoured scrambled eggs, which happens every time I made vanilla pudding. Something must have gone right because the pastry cream was so good. I could have eaten that on its own too.

DBeclairs (8)

Here is my only surviving eclair in it's complete form.. there weren't too many of those! Since I ate so many puffs, I thought I had way too much pastry cream so I started to eat some of that. I must have eaten way too much because some of my puffs couldn't be filled and were only glazed.

DBeclairs (10)

3 eclair shells, 4 filled and glazed puffs and a whole lot of pastry cream later, I was starting to feel a little sick. I love how each component on its own is so good and how tempting it is not to wait for all the shells to cool, pastry cream to cook and chocolate sauce. If I didn't have a little more self control, I probably would have eaten this as I completed each component, but it was definitely worth the wait. Thanks to Meeta and Tony for choosing such a fun and delicious recipe that will be made again!


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:
1) 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 PierreHermé

• 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.

13 comments:

  1. I absolutely love that you made éclairs AND little puffs (they remind me of profiteroles) - too fun!! Great work on this month's Daring Bakers Challenge!!

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  2. The cream puffs are so cute!

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  3. I love your cream puffs! My favourite recipes are always ones where I can snack on raw mixture and components before the finished product.

    x

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  4. Cream puff are tastier, anyway, but I'm not sure why. Yours are gorgeous!

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  5. i know how you feel. luckily i'm taking mine to a party tonight, otherwise i'm sure they would be all gone by now.

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  6. I love the little puffs. Just enough to pop in your mouth and be satisfied. They look delicious.

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  7. The puffs turned out beautiful, Steph. And eclairs are always a winner. My mum used to bake cream puffs when I was little - essentially the same thing but without the chocolate glaze. Brings back fond memories.

    Btw, did you pierce the shells when they came out of the oven. It's meant to let the air out so the puffs don't deflate when they cool.

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  8. Your eclairs turned out awesome, Steph. I'm glad I wasn't the only one who ate 3... ok maybe 1.5 real ones... during the baking process :)

    Muscle training? Give it a shot, you might like it :)

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  9. I agree with veggiegirl about them reminding me of profiteroles. Actually, after doing some research, you may have indeed made them instead of eclairs (you would have to sit down and compare recipes, but they sound the same except one is a log and the other is a bunch of balls). Whatever they are called, I'm coming over for dessert.

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  10. Your eclairs look good. Most of mine deflated as well but they still tasted good.

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  11. great job w/the challenge. try baking them longer to avoid the deflation

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  12. I agree that the eclairs were totally addictive! Nice job on this month's challenge.

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  13. I am so glad I am not alone in eating so much myself. I took the train at the last minute to my sisters in Napa and had not had dinner yet. Well what would make a better dinner than a bowl of chocolate pastry cream, fresh rasberries and chocolate glaze? Nothing I think you can agree. Did they make it onto the train? Nope. Dinner was had among red ants while waiting. I just found your site, very nice.

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