Sunday, August 31, 2008

Clearly Eclairs!

Daring bakers--they've done it again... and again and again from what I've gathered!

MeetaK and Tony Tahhan chose a great dessert for the August challenge--- the eclair. Though relatively simple and quick to make, it still requires a bit of attention to get it right.  

I am not the biggest fan of eclairs, more because of the pastry cream and less because of the pastry. I love choux pastry and would often make profiteroles.  I'd fill them in with ice cream and then pour a lovely chocolate sauce over it.

But when Meeta announced we would be doing Pierre Herme's recipe...I was quick to put aside my dislike for pastry cream and embrace eclairs.  My cousin Pia and I were having a baby shower for two of our cousins so I thought that these eclairs would make a nice dessert for the party.

I started out by making the pastry cream. I essentially followed the recipe as is but removed the chocolate and I boiled my milk with a vanilla bean. I also lessened the sugar. I loved the resulting cream but I did find it too rich.

Next I made the chocolate sauce. I wondered why I had to make a chocolate sauce that went into a chocolate glaze when the ingredients were basically the same.  But fine... let's not question the master.

Lastly I made the chocolate glaze.  I used a dark chocolate deeply flavoured with orange.  It was divine! Whatever questions I had about the sauce I tossed out the window!

The next morning, I made the pastry. I noticed the pastry wasn't cooked enough so I kept the trays in for another good 10 minutes. I rotated the trays twice more to even the browning.
I was running late and didn't want soggy eclairs so I put each of the components in individual containers and brought them to the party at my cousin's barely opened restaurant. I actually filled them and glazed them there. Before filling them though I lightened the pastry cream with some cream which I had to whip by hand with a fork as my cousin didn't have a mixer in the place!
All's well that end well and these eclairs ended well!
Thank you Meeta and Tony for a great recipe!
Check out the other daring bakers here.

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 (20g) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces, at room temperature

• 7 tbsp (110g) 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.

22 comments:

Dhanggit said...

Wow fabulous eclairs!! Well done for this month's challenge!!

HoneyB said...

Your eclairs look delicious to me!

Dhanggit said...

if you didnt tell me you are a fellow pinay i wouldnt have guessed..you have a spanish beauty for me heheheh

Cristine said...

Beautiful eclairs! Good job!

Rebecca of "Ezra Pound Cake" said...

Ooh, chocolate flavored with orange sounds delicious. I didn't get the whole chocolate sauce/glaze thing either, but I went with it. ;)

Courtney said...

very pretty, the sound and look great.

Rachel said...

Great job on the eclairs!

Libby said...

These are the most perfect eclairs ever. So glossy!

maybelle's mom said...

I took them to a party and did the same thing--fill them when I got there. Nothing worse than a soggy eclair. Good job.

Leslie said...

Great job! They look so very lovely!

Jude said...

Yum. Such a nice shiny glaze.. So inviting to bite into!

Aparna said...

They look good and i'm sure they were well appreciated at the shower.

shellyfish said...

Profiteroles... a girl after my own heart or stomach as the case may be!

bonnie said...

lovely eclairs~
just like you.

Lisa Michelle said...

Thanks for nice comment, pixie! I SO enjoyed my first challange! I mean, there couldn't have neen a better recipe (eclairs) to get my feet wet in Daring Bakers. That said, your eclairs came out bee-yoo-ti-ful!

Dragon said...

These are so lovely. Great job!

jasmine said...

Very nicely done :) Really like the thick choco drips...


j

Claire said...

My mom was having a baby shower at her house, too, and I offered to make these for that but they were having ice cream sundae's...so I just made them for us! Yours look great! Wonderful job.

Leslie said...

In response to your question on my eclairs...I actually Dipped the eclairs into the glaze and let the glaze drip off before I flipped them over. I had a feeling they would look more uniform that way instead of brushing the glaze on!
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Angela said...

What a great dessert for a baby shower! They came out beautifully and I love the idea of using flavoured chocolate in the glaze!

Olga said...

you look so calmed and composed. I was a total mess ;)

Susan said...

I had the same question about the chocolate sauce but I agree the result was great. Lucky shower guests to get these beautiful eclairs!