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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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

August 14, 2008

Banana Icecream, CLICK and some awards!!

After my experiments with the Cheesecake icecream, I made this Banana icecream, quickly followed by the Strawberry Icecream. I had already posted the other two icecreams, so I thought of this when I wanted to post a dessert! Again, I've made this icecream without an icecream maker, so it lacks the smoothness and fineness in texture that an icecream maker would impart. The flavor of bananas were strong and I had thrown in a few white chocolate chips which was enjoyable. It didnt turn out as creamy as the strawberry icecream did, probably because I was careless!! I just covered the bowl with plastic wrap (silly me!!). It sure was creamy and delicious when I whipped it. Anyways, I hope you all would give this a try. I am certain that banana lovers would looooove this icecream. For the picture, I've poured a bit of melted chocolate over the scoops of icecream with a cherry on top, and a banana split lengthwise on either side. Enjoy!!

Recipe ( Makes 1 quart) :

Bananas - 3, very ripe
Whipping cream - 1 cup
Milk - 1 cup
Eggs - 2
Vanilla extract - 2 tsp
Sugar - 1/2 cup, optional


In a blender or processor, puree bananas and cream.

Stir in remaining ingredients.

Freeze in an ice-cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions.

Source: The Donvier Icecream Dessert Book by Anna Creery.

  1. I dont have an ice-cream maker, so I used a handmixer to whip the icecream every hour for 3 hours.
  2. Store in an air-tight freezer-safe container.

The Banana Icecream is on its way to the "Icecreams and Milkshakes" event at Srilekha's Me and My Kitchen along with my,

Cheesecake Icecream
Strawberry Icecream
Carrot Milkshake
Cappuccino Shake
Sharjah Shake

"CLICK : August 2008 Citrus" entry:

The first picture of Petite Orange Cake that I made earlier on is my entry to "CLICK : August 2008" themed Citrus! What could be more cirtus-y than a sponge cake which is orange flavoured with orange cream cheese frosting and topped with a slice of mandarin orange and a drizzle of melted dark chocolate!? It sits on a puddle of chocolate sauce to form a perfect, delectable and irresistible dessert. Dont forget to check out the recipe for Petite Orange Cakes.

Awards galore:

Vani of Illatharasi , EC of Simple Indian Food and Trupti of Recipe Center passed the "Brilliant Weblog" Award to me.

Brilliant Weblog is a prize given to sites and blogs that are smart and brilliant both in their content and their design. The purpose of the prize is to promote as many blogs as possible in the blogsphere. Here are the rules to follow :-

When you receive the prize you must write a post showing it, together with the name of who has given it to you, and link them back. Choose a minimum of 7 blogs (or even more) that you find brilliant in their content or design. Show their names and links and leave them a comment informing they were prized with ‘Brilliant Weblog’. Show a picture of those who awarded you and those you give the prize (optional). All the bloggers have wonderful work and content in their blog and all deserve to get this.

I am more than happy to pass this onto,

Laavanya of Cookery Corner
Madhuram of Eggless Cooking
Sukanya of
Hot n' Sweet Bowl
Trupti of Recipe Center
Sujatha of Spicy Khazana
Maheswari of
Beyond the Usual
Rachel of Tangerine's Kitchen

Trupti of Recipe Center and Sireesha of Mom's Recipes passed on the "Beautiful Site" Award and "Zpremios Dardo 2008 Best Blog Darts Thinker" Award to me.

I would love to pass these onto,

Ranji of Ranji's Kitchen Corner
Bhags of Crazy Curry
Sia of Passionate about Life n' spice
Cham of Spice-club
Laavanya of Cookery Corner

Thanks to everyone who thought about me while passing on the awards and congrats to all who received it! Enjoy your awards, girls!!

August 11, 2008

Stir-fried Chicken and Broccoli with Noodles

Hey Friends, hope you all are having an awesome time! I have missed quite many wonderful posts and milestones of you all, but I hope I will be able to catch up on everything soon. My family and I are really busy going on small outings everyday with my in-laws and we also have a major trip in the making! Eventhough I hoped that I would be able to post as frequent as earlier, I understood that it would not be the case. But still it really is hard to stay away from the blog, without interacting with all my friends!!

Anyways, coming to the recipe, this is a stir-fry that I made from a cookbook that has become my favourite in no time. This was actually a stir-fry with pork, which I adapted to be made with chicken. My vegetarian friends can do without chicken/meat and add other veggies like snow-pea pods, mushrooms, carrots and onions along with broccoli to make an delicious and healthy meal. This recipe is distinct in that the cooked noodles are pan-fried with garlic which imparts a delicate flavor and texture to the noodles. The stir-fry also has a very balanced flavor, the white wine lending a unique and extraordinary distinction to the dish. It is kid friendly too. I have used dried (and not fresh) egg noodles, which was cooked to perfection in boiling water. My lil one and I thoroughly enjoyed it for lunch and JM, for dinner. It simply was perfect! Hope you all would give this a try! I will be back with another recipe soon. Until then, have a great time and enjoy!!

Recipe (Serves 4) :

Chicken (Beef/Pork) - 6 oz
Salt - 1/4 tsp
White pepper - a pinch
Cornstarch - 2 tbsp + 1/2 tsp, divided
Broccoli - 10 oz
Oyster sauce - 2 tbsp
Dried egg noodles - 8 oz
Vegetable oil - 2 tbsp, divided
Minced garlic - 2 tsp
White wine - 2 tbsp
Chicken broth - 1 cup
Green onion - 1, shredded


Cut the chicken into thing strips and mix with salt, pepper and 1/2 tsp cornstarch.

Cook the fresh florets of broccoli in boiling water for a minute and drain.

Immediately rinse in cold water, drain well and set aside.

In a small bowl, mix together the remaining 2 tbsp cornstarch, oyster sauce and 2 tbsp water.

Cook the egg noodles in a pot of boiling water until just al dente (about 5 minutes for dried noodles and 3 minutes for fresh noodles).

Drain well and set aside.

Heat a non-stick skillet over high heat.

Add 1 tbsp vegetable oil, garlic and noodles and pan fry until both sides are browned (about 2 minutes). Keep aside.

Add the remaining 1 tbsp vegetable oil to the skillet.

Toss in the marinated chicken and stir-fry until the meat is cooked (about 1 minute).

Pour the white wine and stir well.

Add the broccoli and chicken broth to the meat and heat to boiling.

Stir in the cornstarch mixture and cook, stirring constantly until thickened.

Pour the chicken and sauce over the noodles.

Garnish with the shredded green onion.

Serve immediately.

Source: Everyday Chinese Cooking by Leeann Chin and Katie Chin.

  1. Fresh egg noodles (14 oz) can be used instead of dried egg noodles.
  2. I used frozen broccoli and cooked it slightly in the microwave.
  3. Vegetarians can adapt this recipe by omitting the meat and adding a bit of their favorite veggies. Use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth.
  4. The picture shows a garnish of green onions and red hot chilli peppers.

August 5, 2008

Egg Curry with Coconut Milk and Idiyappams (Steamed Rice Noodles)

Today I am posting the first of a series of traditional kerala recipes that my mother-in-law is cooking up for us. The egg curry with coconut milk is an all-time favourite in our home. Keralites can hardly keep themselves from adding coconut, in any form, to their curries. And true to form, this delicious egg curry has rich coconut milk as the main flavoring. The coconut milk added to this curry gives a rich, sweet taste which balances the flavor of the blend of spices added. It also has a tasty gravy which forms an ideal dipping sauce for idiyappams (steamed rice noodles), appams and chapathis. In Kerala, the coconut is generally grated and then squeezed with water to make the coconut milk. The first squeeze would yield a thick milk which is added last to the curry (so as not to curdle it) and the second and third squeezes would yield thinner milk which generally forms the majority of the gravy. Today we have used the canned coconut milk, available in the Asian aisles, which was not thinned down. I hope everyone would love the series of Kerala recipes as much as we are enjoying them at home! ;-) If anyone is interested in knowing how to make idiyappams, please let me know! Aaswadikkoo! (Enjoy!)

Recipe (Serves 4) :

Eggs - 4, hard boiled
Ginger - 1" piece, sliced
Onion - 2 medium, sliced thin
Green chilly - 1, split lengthwise
Tomato - 1, quartered
Chilli powder - 1/2 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Coriander powder - 1 tsp
Garam masala powder - 1/2 tsp
Coconut milk - 1/2 cup
Water - 1/2 cup


Remove the shells from the hard boiled eggs.

Heat oil in a skillet.

Saute the onions, gren chillies and ginger until the onions are cooked and tender.

Add the red chilly, coriander, turmeric and garam masala powders and saute until fragrant.

Add the tomato chunks and stir to mix well.

Pour water to the mixture and season with salt.

Bring to a boil and allow the onions and tomato chunks to cook.

Stir in the coconut milk and mix until heated through. (DO NOT boil).

Toss in the eggs.

Serve hot with idiyappam, appam or chapathi.

Check out the Egg Roast (without coconut milk) here.

This is a pictorial representation on how to shape the idiyappams. If anyone is interested in knowing more, just send me an email ( or leave a comment.

I am sending this to the "Curry Mela" hosted by Srivalli of Cooking 4 all seasons.

I was greeted today by the "Blogging Friends Forever" award passed on to me by Sujatha of Khazana of my favourite recipes. Thank you so much Sujatha, I really appreciate it! Thanks for being my friend!

The following rules apply to this award:

1. Only 5 people are allowed to receive this award
2. 4 of them followers of your blog.
3. One has to be new to your blog and live in another part of the world.
4. You must link back to who ever gave you the award.

I would like to pass this onto,

Sukanya of Hot n' sweet Bowl
Vani of Illatharasi
Rachel of Tangerine's Kitchen
Rashmi of Delhibelle
Shreya of Mom's Cooking (who is relatively new to my blog)

Enjoy your awards and have a nice day!!

August 1, 2008

Tandoori Tofu & Tandoori Chicken

Good morning friends! As most of you might know, my in-laws reached here on (early morning) Tuesday and I've been pretty busy with them most of the time. They are getting used to the weather and schedule in the US despite their jet-lag and fatigue! We have been to some nearby parks and malls already!! I apologise for not visiting your blogs everyday as I used to (I still do on alternate days!). I guess you all could understand that it would get hectic when you have family visting. Anyways, I am hoping to post regularly like this throughout their visit. We've already made a few traditional Kerala recipes about which I will be posting soon. Thanks a lot for the support shown for my earlier posts.

Coming back to the recipes, we actually grilled these tikkas some time back along with the Chicken tikkas. I had substituted tofu for paneer in the recipe for Tandoori paneer. Eventhough I knew that JM hates tofu (I have a strong dislike too), I wanted to give it another try. I thought the tandoor marinade would mask the distaste that we feel and make it something that we could accept without much fuss. The marination is kind of short (3 hours) when compared to overnight marination for non-veg stuff. I bought the firm tofu available at the grocers and the veggies mentioned and marinated them in the spices for 3 hours. After grilling, we thoroughly enjoyed the tandoori veggies, but the tofu, not so much. Infact JM was not at all willing to try, since he had told me earlier on about his dislike. I tried to enjoy it, but again, it wasnt something that my palate agreed with. I wished I had followed the recipe exactly and bought paneer too!!

Verdict :

Anyways, the marinade is EXCELLENT. Use paneer for this recipe and it would be an awesome tikka for sure. The marinade would also be perfect for just a veggies-only tikka as we thoroughly enjoyed the bell peppers and tomatoes skewered with the tofu. For those who have a seasoned palate for tofu, go ahead and enjoy an Indian treat with soy cheese!!

Recipe (Serves 4) :

Paneer/Tofu - 11 oz
Green bell peppers - 2
Onion - 1
Tomatoes - 2 firm
Thick plain yoghurt - 1 1/4 cups
Ground turmeric - 1 tsp
Ginger - 3/4", grated
Garlic cloves - 4, crushed
Lemon juice - 1 1/2 tbsp
Mint leaves - 2 tbsp
Chopped cilantro - 1 tbsp
Oil - 2 tbsp


Cut the tofu/paneer into cubes.

Cut the capsicums into squares, the onion into chunks and the tomatoes into cubes.

Mix the yoghurt, turmeric, ginger, garlic and lemon juice, together with a little salt, in a large bowl.

Stir in the herbs.

Add the paneer and vegetables, cover and refrigerate for 3 hours.

Preheat the grill (broiler) to its highest setting.

Using 8 skewers, thread onto each, 5 pieces of paneer/tofu and some capsicum, onion and tomato.

Brush with the oil, season with salt.

Grill (broil) on all sides for 3-4 minutes, or until the paneer/tofu and vegetables are cooked and slightly charred around the edges.

Serve hot.

Source: The Food of India by Priya Wickramasinghe.

I am sending this Tandoori tofu to the "JFI : Soya event" over at Sia's Passionate about Life 'n Spice.

Recipe :

Tandoori chicken - check out my Chicken tikkas post for detailed recipe and tips.

I used a cut-up whole chicken (bone-in) and trimmed them into slightly smaller pieces and used the same marinade as for the Chicken tikkas. Due to our inexperience in grilling, they didn't get cooked completely, which was made right by popping it in the oven for about 15 minutes. I think that without the grill, the Tandoori Chicken would be probably done in about 30 minutes or so in the oven. Look for signs of charring on the sides of the chicken and the juices would run clear when pierced. The oven temperatures and other suggestions are given in the Chicken tikka post. The picture actually shows a boneless whole chicken breast that I cut out of the bone-in chicken.

The Tandoori Chicken is on its way to "Monthly Mingle : Grill It! Summer Fun" event at Sig's Live to Eat. Here's a couple more of pictures.

I am happy to pass on a beautiful award bestowed upon me by a few of my dear blogger friends. Srilekha of Me and My Kitchen, Skribles of Food with a pinch of love and EC of Simple Indian Food passed on the "Blogging Friends Forever" award to me. Thanks a lot friends!! I really am happy and honored to receive these awards from you guys!! Thanks a lot!

I would like to pass these onto,

Maheswari of Beyond the Usual
Laavanya of Cookery Corner
Sonu from Melbourne, Australia, who is new to my blog, but is a very enthusiastic and ardent supporter of my blog and I !!

Thanks to each and everyone of you, for supporting me. Have a great weekend!!