August 31, 2008

Chocolate Éclairs by Pierre Hermé


There it is - my third Daring Bakers Challenge and my first attempt at the delicious French pastry - Chocolate eclairs (mine is a Chocolate - Glazed White - Chocolate Mousse Eclair). And to think that I almost didnt do it!! I know mine arent the best eclairs in town, but I am proud of my accomplishment with just a day to spare! The story goes like this...

When I first saw that Tony Tahhan and Meeta K have chosen "Chocolate eclairs" as the challenge for the month of August, I was ecstatic. First, because it would be my initial attempt at this decadent dessert and second, because it sounded much simple and quicker than the previous two DB challenges. But since I have my in-laws with us, I was occupied most of the time. Last week we went on a ten-day road trip after which we were all pretty tired. So I almost gave up on the thought of making these tasty treats! But still I couldnt leave it alone, and finally I started and completed my challenge on Friday!

The Chocolate Éclairs consist of 3 elements Pâte à Choux, also known as Choux Pastry or Cream Puff Dough, Pastry Cream and Chocolate glaze. We were allowed great flexibility by the hosts who suggested that we keep atleast one chocolate element from the recipe given to us. I chose to keep the chocolate glaze and substituted the chocolate pastry cream with home-made white chocolate mousse using the Chocolate mousse recipe that I had tried earlier from Meeta's blog itself. I did screw up the chocolate mousse a bit, so it didnt set properly into a thick foam, but was a bit runny. But eventhough the filling didnt turn out as I had expected, the "Cream-puff Goddesses" smiled upon me, and the Choux pastries turned out perfectly baked - all golden brown, puffed and firm. The glaze was also smooth, gleaming and quick. The filling did ooze out a little and none of us did mind! I wanted to do a few kinds of decors on top of the glaze, but since I couldnt plan elaborately, I had to do with what had. A few are decorated with almonds and a few with chocolate chips. Others just have a bit of glaze drizzled on them.

I did make a few round eclairs, but filled them with plain whipped cream and drizzled the tops with the chocolate glaze. We thoroughly enjoyed the eclairs and I am glad that I went through with the challenge. So once again, I am hollering out that I am proud to be a "Daring Baker"!!



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 mediumand 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 yourhandmixer 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 youhave 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 below.

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.


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 bypositioning the racks in the upper and lower half of the oven. Line two baking sheets withwaxed 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 bakingtime should be approximately 20 minutes.Notes:1) The éclairs can be kept in a cool, dry place for several hours before filling.



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.



Chocolate Pastry Cream Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé

• 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.


Assembling the éclairs:

• Chocolate glaze
• Chocolate pastry cream

1) Slice the éclairs horizontally, using a serrated knife and a gently sawing motion. Set aside thebottoms 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 ofthe 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 bottomswith enough cream to mound above the pastry. Place the glazed tops onto the pastry creamand 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.


Thanks for visiting me today! I am sorry for the reduced activity in my blog nowadays and I promise I will be getting back to active blogging soon! Thanks for all your support and love. Have a great day. Dont forget to visit the masterpieces of my fellow DB members.

Check out my previous two challenges :

Danish Braid and Filbert Gateau

21 comments:

Sonu said...

yaay...! wht a gr8 recipe JZ! U r truly a dessert expert...!Good step-by-step method. Hope you r doin well.
Sonu:)

Rachel said...

Perfectly done and your pics are a proof of that...

Laavanya said...

They look gorgeous JZ! You can soon start a bakery I think... all the DBs can start one together :) Hope you are doing good.

Sujatha said...

Nice to see you back, JZ! Delicious recipe.. and the pics are great as usual.

Sig said...

Wow, superb job girl... Those are some gorgeous eclairs...

Ivy said...

Great job JZ. Nice to see you back. Your pictures are beautiful and all the presentation.

Aparna said...

Absolutely great looking eclairs. And I'd rather have chocolate mousse in them any day.:)

Angela said...

Perfectly baked and perfectly presented! Your éclairs are stunning!

easycrafts said...

Eclairs eclairs all around, make me happy and leave me craving for them

Uma said...

the eclaris look perfect and gorgeous.

Sangeeth said...

wow! really wow! so divine...iam droolin :)

Srivalli said...

OMG..thats awesome..really too good JZ..thanks for sharing your wonderful step by step...I am sure I can never attempt..heheh...:)

SriLekha said...

hi am back again after a break! am inviting u for my son amiitesh's b'day which falls on sep 3rd! that's a great recipe! it look gorgeous!

Cham said...

They re perfect JZ :)

Kirstynn Evans said...

These look so cute! Them all sitting in a cute little row, ready to be downed! Weren't they yummy?

Suma Rajesh said...

woo its lovly pic and tempting....gud presentation..

vandana rajesh said...

thats simply gr8 jz...already making my mouth water. Like your step by step approach and those personalised notes on what to do oromit at each stage. Gr8 pics as usual:)

A_and_N said...

Ohh my GOODNESS! Not only are the Eclairs perfect, but the swirls that you've made for the pics make it look so professional :) Hats off to you!

Absolutely jaw-dropping stuff!

Sunshinemom said...

This isn't fair, JZ! I drool and all I can do is look at the eclairs and drool more - great pictures and pretty presentations as always! That is getting to be repeated many times more:)

meeso said...

They look so perfect!

karuna said...

this looks tempeting. i loved the pics.
u have been tagged. chk it out here
http://myluvforfood.blogspot.com/2008/09/its-been-long-time.html