Sunday, August 31, 2008

August Challenge! Eclairs!!

Almost late I am. It’s late the 31st and I forgot I had to post my Challenge. Leaving for work, I said to myself oh S*** it’s the last day of August. So here I am at work, typing it up on Word to email to myself, add pics and get posted ha-ha.

The Challenge this Month Was chosen by Tony Tahhan and Meetak .

I was quite excited, I have had to sit out the last couple of months, and was looking forward to getting back into the swing of things, I was worried it was going to be a hard and long challenge but to my enjoyment it was not!!

I have made cream puffs many times before, from a recipe I have just always used, making a light pastry cream filling and shiny ganache top. So I was not worried one bit about the challenge. As I read the recipe, I wondered to myself, a glaze and sauce for the top? And I never have to do the many steps required to bake these particular batch. But intrigued and still not worried I set out to do it. I broke it up between days, making the filling and the choux one day and the topping and putting them together the next.

This was the first challenge I made as is. I did not change a thing. I like bittersweet chocolate and was curious as to how it would all come together in complete form, so mine are the complete recipe with no alterations!

Before we get the recipe here is what I think. I love the bittersweet filling, my gosh it was dense chocolate heaven, not too sweet and very formal to me. These would have been fantastic on an elegant wedding dessert table. The topping, I followed the recipes as close to exact as I could and had no trouble. I read on the forums some had oily glazes or they broke, I am not sure why at all, but mine came together nicely, and I really liked it and will use those 2 items several times again. In fact I had so much left, I added Jalapeños to the left over and used it as the topping on my CupCake hero entry! And I will tell you I think it’s the Hostess cupcake recipe ha-ha because those cupcakes looked just like a Hostess cupcake just no cream filling or white zigzag on the top (but I am so going to try to recreate those now that I have that topping!!

Now the Choux dough itself, It seemed pretty much just like any others I have used, but it baked weird. I made mostly small ones, but had done a couple large that I wanted to use for the pictures, but those rose and then fell flat as they cooled, with no possible way to even cut them in half. I had baked them longer, tapping the bottom of them for that hollow sound, and they had a great golden brown color, but anything longer than my finger was useless to me. So those I had to throw away, leaving me with about a dozen mini éclairs, just enough filling, and a top of glaze (hence the cupcakes hehe).

Over all I was very very pleased!! They were loved by all that ate them, with all the chocolate, they were not overly sweet to me at all. I will definitely keep the filling and toping recipes and just use them with my Choux recipe. Thanks to you both for a great Challenge this month, loved coming back to such a wonderful item to make!!

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 o
r 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.

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.

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

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

And for some silly reason.. I took 2 pictures?? wtf was I thinking?? either way I loved em!!

Check out the rest at the Daring Bakers Blog Roll!!


Christy said...

It does seem funny how fast August passes you by, doesn't it? I was almost late too..but anyway..good job on your eclairs!! I'm glad you could take part in this one!!

aisha said...

Ooh, what lovely looking eclairs! I love the piping job with the pastry cream.

Gina said...

Mmm, they look wonderful! I, too, love the piping of the pastry cream.

FoodieFroggy said...

You are right about being happy with your éclairs : they look extremely "gourmands" !

kat said...

They look really nice though despite your problems cooking up the dough. Sounds like a lot of people had the problem as well.

Shellyfish said...

August...did we even hit August yet?!

Beautiful job!

April said...

Your eclairs are gorgeous!! Great job on them!

Kim and Jason said...

Your pastry cream is gorgeous, mine looked more like a custard, how did you get yours so thick that you could pipe it like that? I would love to do that next time!

Dragon said...

Your eclairs look so beautiful. Nice job!

Megan said...

They look great! I had problems with mine too. They fell flat like yours did.

Vera said...

Tina, your éclairs are lovely! I think the stated in the recipe baking time is insufficient for proper rising. But yours do look very good indeed!

uvr said...

eclairs look good... thanks for stopping by my blog and please visit again...

Bharti said...

hello! Thanks for the have a lovely blog here..will browse to go thru more of your creations. Your cakes look gorgeous!

Cooking and the City said...

these look delicious, bet you've got none going spare ;-)

Sugar Chef said...

Your Eclairs look great. Love the plate they are on. Very pretty.

Mandira said...

wow, the eclairs looks delicious. Tell me about the month whizzing by... too many things to do.

somebody said...