Let me begin my post by shouting out loud that I LOVED LOVED LOVED this mouth’s Daring Bakers Challenge and I am thankful to Tony Tahhan and MeetaK for chosing the recipe for us. I have always wanted to make eclairs myself so this was a great opportunity to get daring and baking. I did some modifications to the recipe along the way, and here’s what happened.
1. I followed Pierre Hermes’s recipe to make the choux. Turned out great! But I was able to squeeze only 16 éclairs out of my archaic pastry bag, and not 20-25 as the recipe suggested. I think I need to buy a new pastry bag as the one I have literally tore down on me while I was squeezing the last piece of dough out of it.
2. Instead of chocolate filling I decided to go with basic vanilla pastry cream to fill the choux. I found a nice recipe on Martha Stewart’s web site and wanted to give it a shot. The result was good but not great – the cream was very delicious, but… it turned out way too runny. I thought I could change this after chilling the cream in the fridge overnight, but alas, it didn’t work. So, the next day I added more cornstarch to it and simmered it until it thickened to the consistency I liked. The recipe I am posting here for the pastry cream is the adjusted version of Martha’s Stewart original. And it is good. Next time I am going to try the chocolate filling though, just for change. I am curious about the taste.
3. The recipe suggests adding Chocolate sauce into Chocolate Glaze and explains how to make the sauce. As I found the process a little time consuming I settled for a basic chocolate ganache glaze I found in Williams-Sonoma Baking book. I wanted a polished shiny glaze and that’s exactly what the result was. Less hassle, great results! I am posting the recipe below.
Overall, I was very happy with the way my éclairs looked and tasted. They literally were gone in a jiffy. I thought we would have some leftovers that I could freeze and selfishly devour all alone when my daughter was not around (she loves éclairs as much as I do!) but alas my dream did not come true – they were gone gone gone right away!
Below is the recipe for Éclairs with my modifications. Don’t forget to check out my fellow Daring Bakers for their fabulous creations! I am sure you’ll be impressed.
Éclairs consist of 3 elements:
– Pâte à Choux, also known as Choux Pastry or Cream Puff Dough
– Pastry Cream
– Chocolate glaze
• Cream Puff Dough (see below for recipe), fresh and still warm
1) Preheat your oven to 375ºF (190ºC). 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 (I ONLY HAD 16!).
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. (Farida: Mine were cool enough in 30 minutes – couldn’t wait any longer!
Assembling the éclairs:
• Chocolate glaze (see below for recipe)
• 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) Holding the top half upside down, dip the top surface into the ganache. Turn the dipped half right side up and place on a wire rack to set.
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. 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) – Farida: I had 16.
• 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 hand mixer 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.
Pastry Cream (Crème Patisserie)
Adapted from marthastewart.com
Makes about 2 1/2 cups – enough for 16 eclairs
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Pinch of salt
- 4 large eggs (yolks only)
- 1/2 cup cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1) In a medium saucepan, combine milk, 1/4 cup sugar, vanilla extract and salt. Cook over medium heat until mixture comes to a simmer.
2) In a medium bowl, whisk together egg yolks, cornstarch, and remaining 1/4 cup sugar. Whisking constantly, slowly pour about 1/2 cup of the hot-milk mixture into the egg-yolk mixture, 1/2 cup at a time, until it has been incorporated. Pour mixture back into saucepan, and cook over medium-high heat, whisking constantly, until it thickens, about 2-4 minutes.
3) Transfer to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the butter, and beat on medium speed until the butter melts and the mixture cools, about 5 minutes.
4) Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly onto the surface of the pastry cream to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until chilled, at least 2 hours or up to 2 days. Just before using, beat on low speed until smooth (you can also whisk by hand).
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma, The Essentials of Baking
4 oz (125 g) bittersweet or semisweet (plain) chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup (2 oz / 60 g) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch (12-mm) pieces
1/4 cup (2 fl oz / 60 ml) whole milk
1. Combine the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl. In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the milk to a boil. Remove from the heat and immediately pour over the chocolate and butter. Stir with a wire whisk until the chocolate and butter melt and are smooth. Place the ganache in a wide bowl.
Now scroll all the way up to learn how to assemble your éclairs! Enjoy!