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Never Again, Chocolate Eclairs

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his month I took part in my first Daring Bakers challenge.
What a challenge it was! Although I was rather excited by the prospect of making chocolate eclairs, once I printed out and read the 5 or 6 pages of instructions my enthusiasm slowly slipped away.

I set aside a whole day to complete these as I wasn't sure how long and how fiddly it was going to be. I ended up with quite a lot of eclairs, so I passed some onto my neighbors and my eclair eating friend Alana. Then I wished I hadn't given so many away because I wanted to eat them all! Luckily I did share them though since they aren't really the healthiest thing.

Pierre Hermé’s Chocolate 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 bakingsheets 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.


You can check out other member's results at http://daringbakersblogroll.blogspot.com/

I wonder what next month's challenge will be! Wish me luck!!


Voila! Bon Appétit!

16 comments:

They look brilliant and so professional! Thanks for posting Pierre Herme's recipe - I'll try it next time. When I made profiteroles they looked rather, erm, rustic (read: crap).

Thanks Kim!
I should have piped them fatter, but I didn't know since I've never made them before.
If i ever make them again they will be nice and fat :P
x

Love your blog title! And even though it's "never again"--you did such a fabulous job. Congrats on your first challenge!

Congrats on completing your first DB Challenge! Your results look great!

My hips and thighs would never forgive me if I didn't give away most of what I bake. :) Great job on your first challenge!

Great piping! Seriously :) Welcome to the group!

Great job on your 1st challenge. Looks absolutely yummy!

They look great Shellie! And wow a Pierre Herme recipe too, well done! :)

marymary - Thankyou! I was happy that the first challenge involved chocolate since that's my weakness!

eat4fun - thankyou! I was so worried they would look horrible!!

mary - oh tell me about it, when will I ever start the diet and stick to it?

lunch buckets - thanks! I had no idea what I was doing but it all seemed to work out well

jo - they were seriously yummy, if only they weren't so fiddly to make!

lorraine e - thank you! I had no idea what I was in for but it was so worth it in the end =)
x

I simply love the way you presented the eclairs. That square plate with a drizzle of chocolate sauce... Brilliant! Congrats on your first DB challenge.

Oh yum... Michele. The eclaires look delectable. Absolutely pallatable. How long did it take you to make them (preparation and baking)? Congratulations and conquering the challege:)

Silverrock - I can thank Max Brenner for my inspiration on that one! That man does wonders with chocolate!

Kiran - thankyou my darling! took me about half a day to three quarters of a day. Toooo long for just one recipe I say!!
x

They look delicious! I wish I was your neighbor, I wouldn't mind fattening up for chocolate eclairs.

May be I'll get one of my friends in cooking school to make some for me. I know I would mess them up if I were to attempt it.

Great job on your challenge!




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Oh yum! They look so scrumptious.. I have been wanting to do a DB challenge and think I might give it a go now.. Melissa (The Kitchen Enquirer)

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