After my bout with choquettes, i was kind of excited to make these eclairs, since they are both made of choux pastries.
I decided to try on a different recipe instead of sticking to the choquette recipe, as i am not really in the habit of repeating recipes, unless i am absolutely certain that that was the best recipe.For other times, i like to experiment.
After a brief search, i discovered that making eclair was a Daring Baker’s challenge, with Pierre Hermes’ choux recipe. I settled on that, since many daring bakers have had success with the recipe. And boy, was i impressed. This version of the choux pastry tastes way richer than the choquettes. It has a strong “eggy” aroma to it, which oddly speaking is kinda pleasant (well to me at least).
The steps in the both recipes were pretty much the same and executed in the same orders. However, i totally dissed the part on wedging ur oven door open with a wooden spoon in Pierre’s recipe. No harm done deviating there it seemed.
The DB challenge also requires a chocolate pastry cream to be filled into the eclairs. I chose to make a vanilla version, as i happen to have vanilla beans on hand, and plus, i didnt want to get a chocolate overload.
Eileen from Living Tastefully happened to have similar ideas with the pastry cream issues. She has a vanilla pastry cream version (also from Pierre) on her blog instead. I chose to follow that instead.
The pastry cream came really easily despite the part that called for a thermometer. Dont worry, i totally skipped that part (too!) and my pastry cream came out perfect.
The last part to the challenge was to create a chocolate glaze.Again, i threw caution to the wind and totally went on my own on that. The recipe just seemed to fussy, requiring a two step process. I just stuck to my trusted dark cocoa plus shortening combination.
As you can see, i went astray from the recipe in quite a number of ways and in quite a number of times. But i guess i got lucky today since nothing major went wrong. (phew!)
For me, this recipe is definitely for keeps. I just loved the contrast of the crispy shells against the soft pastry cream. It’s also a good thing that all of the components of this eclair can be done in advance as they have to be served immediately after assembly, to prevent the crust from getting soggy.
Pierre Hermé’s Chocolate Eclairs ( Taken From Living Tastefully)
recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé
(makes 20-24 éclairs)
CREAM PUFF DOUGH (see below for recipe), fresh and still warm
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Divide the oven into thirds by positioning racks in the upper and lower half of the oven. Line two baking sheets with 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 4-inch lengths. Leave about 2 inches between each dough strip to allow room to puff. The dough should give you enough to pipe 20-24 éclairs (I got about 18).
3. Slide both the baking sheets into the oven and bake for 7 minutes. After 7 minutes, slip the handle of a wooden spoon into the door to keep it 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 another 8 minutes or until the éclairs are puffed, golden and FIRM. The total baking time should be approximately 20 minutes (I did not open the door after 7 minutes, and after 20 minutes I turned my oven off, but left the éclairs in the oven for another 5 minutes. It’s probably just my oven).
NOTES: The éclairs can be kept in a cook, 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. 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.
Pierre Hermé’s Cream Puff Dough
• 1/2 cup whole milk
• 1/2 cup water
• 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter cut into 8 pieces
• 1/4 teaspoon sugar
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 1 cup 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. 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. 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. Do not worry. As you keep working the dough, it will come back together 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 then freeze it. Simply pipe the dough onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and slide the sheet 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.
Vanilla Pastry Cream
• 2 cups whole milk
• 1 plump, moist vanilla bean, split lengthwise and scraped
• 6 large egg yolks
• 1/2 cup (slightly rounded) sugar
• 1/3 cup cornstarch, sifted
• 3 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1. In a small saucepan, bring the milk and vanilla bean (pulp and pod) to a boil over medium heat. Cover the pan, remove from the heat, and allow the mixture to rest for 10 minutes, time enough for the liquids to be infused with the warm flavor of vanilla.
2. Fill a large bowl with ice cubes and set aside a small bowl that can hold the finished cream and be placed in this ice bath.
3. Whisk the yolks, sugar, and cornstarch together in a heavy-bottomed medium saucepan. Whisking all the while, very slowly drizzle a quarter of the ot milk into the yolks. Still whisking, add the rest of the liquid to the tempered yolks in a steady stream. Remove and discard the pod.
4. Place the saucepan over high heat and, whisking vigorously and without stop, bring the mixture to the boil. Keep at the boil, whisking energetically, for 1 to 2 minutes, then remove the pan from the heat. Pour the cream into the reserved small bowl. Set the bowl in the ice bath (you can add some cold water to the cubes now) and, stirring frequently so that the mixture remains smooth, cool the cream to 140 degrees F, as measure on an instant-read thermometer. Stir in the butter in three or four additions. Keep the cream over ice, stirring occasionally, until it is completely cool. The cream can be used now or refrigerated.
• 1/3 cup heavy cream
• 3 1/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
• 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces, at room temperature
• 7 tablespoons 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.
2. Stirring gently, stir in the butter, piece by piece followed by the chocolate sauce.
• 4 1/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
• 1 cup water
• 1/2 cup heavy cream
• 1/3 cup 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.