The August challenge for the Daring Bakers was eclairs. I was again, very excited about this challenge since it gave me another chance to improve my skills at making these lovely french baked goods. I had tried them before and they turned out ok, not super, but not that bad either. So now with the challenge I was able to improve them and they sure did improve. The dough puffed up nicely and the chocolate pastry cream was 'eat-it-by-the-spoonful' good. It was really really lovely and smooth and just delicious. The chocolate glaze turned out a lot better this time. The chocolate glaze is not only perfect for coating eclairs, but also great for frosting, for example cupcakes.
The eclairs overall where really delicious. All of them dissappeared on the same day, and tells me that i'll be making them again soon.
Pierre Herme's Cream Puff dough ( Choux pastry)
Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Herme
(Makes 20-24 eclairs)
Cream Puff dough:
1/2 cup (125g) whole milk
1/2 cup (125g) water
1 stick ( 4 oz; 115g) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
1/4 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup (140g) all-purpose flour
5 large eggs, room temperature
1) In a heavy bottomed 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 form at the bottom of the saucepan, it's supposed to. You need to carry one 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 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 until the eggs have been incorporated 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, itn will come back all togehter again by the time you have added the third egg. In the end the dough should be thick and shiny and whe lifted it should fall back into the bowl in a ribbon.
4) The dough should still be warm. It is now ready to be used for the eclairs.
Chocolate Pastry Cream:
2 cups ( 500g) whole milk
4 large egg yolks
6 tbsp (75g) sugar
3 tbsp cornstarch sifted
200 g bittersweet chocolate, preferably Velrhona Guanaja, melted (I used Fazer dark chocolate)
2 1/2 tbsp (40g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1) In a small saucepan, bring the milk to the 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 pouring the rest of the milk into the tempered yolk mixture.
3) Strain the mixture back into the saucpan to remove any egg that may have scrambled. Place the pan over medium heat and whisk vigorously (without stopping) until the mixture returns to a boil. Keep whisking vigorously for 1-2 mins. ( still over medium heat). Stir in the melted chocolate and the remove the pan from the heat.
4) Scrape the pastry cream into a small bowl and set 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 temp. of 140 F remove from the ice 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 is completely cooled. The cream is now ready to be used or store in the fridge.
(Makes 1 cup: 300g)
1/3 cup (80g) heavy cream
3 1/2 oz (100g) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
4 tsp (20g) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces, at room temp.
7 tbsp (110g) Chocolate sauce (recipe below), warm or at room temp.
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
( Makes 1 1/2 cups : 525g)
130 g bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup (250ml) water
1/2 cup (125g) creme fraiche, or heavy cream
1/3 cup ( 70g) 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 or 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.
To make the eclairs:
1)Preheat your oven to 190 c (375 F) . Dive the oven into thirds by positioning the racks in the upper and lower half of the oven. Line two baking trays with parchment paper.
2)Fill a pastry bag with a plain nozzle tip (2/3 (2 cm))with the warm dough and pipe long 11 cm ( 4 inch) long tubes or chubby fingers onto the baking trays lined with parchment paper. Leave about 5 cm ( 2 inches) space in between each dough strip to allow them room to puff. The dough should give you to pipe 20-24 eclairs.
3) Slide both of 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 it ajar. When the eclairs have been in the ovgen for a total of 12 minutes, rotate the sheeps from top to bottom and front to back. Continue baking for a further 8 minutes or until the eclairs are puffed, golden and firm. The total baking time should be approximately 20 minutes.
Assembling the eclairs:
1) Slice the eclairs horrizontally, using a serrated knife and in 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 still be warm to the touch (35-40 C/ 95-104 F). Spread the glaze over the tops of the eclairs using a metal icing spatula. Allow the tops to set in the meantime fill the bottoms with the pastry cream.
3) Pipe or spoon the pastry cream into the bottoms of the eclairs. Make sure you fill the bottoms enough to mound above the pastry. Place the glazed tops onto the pastry cream and wriggle gently to settle them.
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 don't want to create bubbles.
The eclairs should be served as soon as the have been filled.