My first ever.  First DB Challenge.  First Pâte à Choux.  First Pastry Cream.  I was so excited!  I took my eldest to school, went shopping for all my ingredients (I heard fresh is best for Choux dough), and put the toddler down for her afternoon nap— 3 whole hours to myself and my Eclairs.  Heaven!

Making the Choux dough was much easier than I thought it would be.  I think I was a little short on flour because I sifted first.  I have since learned it is best for this dough to sift after measuring.

The dough itself resembles goopy hair gel from the 90’s when dropped from your wooden spoon.  Loading it into the pastry bag and piping it onto the cookie sheet was also very easy.  HINT:  Do not copy my step of piping onto the cookie sheet directly, use parchment or a silpat.  I watched 2 You-Tubers do this and it worked fine for them.  Nonetheless, mine stuck to the pan.  When you remove them from the oven to poke a hole in them, it is critical that you get them right back in the oven. If they stick to the pan, like mine, they will fall before you get them back in.

I was very happy with the way my dough puffed up.  About 80% of my Eclairs were hollow in the middle and took the cream filling very well.  I will cook them an additional 3 minutes next time to ensure the exterior of the “bun” stays crisp.  The recipe for the Choux dough did not yield enough for me to make large Eclairs like I had hoped, in fact it only made enough for 18.  When finished, two Eclairs side by side were no bigger than a business card.  I love to share what I bake with family and friends. This was hardly enough to go around.  For all the effort and dishes, I will double it next time.

I decided to alter the filling.  We were allowed to alter either the filling or the glaze in this challenge.  Even though I changed the cream, I followed the amounts and instructions exactly.  The only substitute I used was white for dark chocolate and once my cream was cool, I added 1 tablespoon of Hazelnut Liquor.  I found that once I filled my Eclairs, I was only left with about 1/2 cup of cream.  That being said, I believe the recipe for the Choux and the cream are spot on.  However, I was left with more than 1/2 of the chocolate glaze.  Therefore, I will need to scale that down before my next attempt.

I sliced my Eclairs lengthwise, per the directions, and used a star tip to pipe the cream into the open Eclairs.  The cream was not quiet stiff enough to hold its shape once the top was put on.   I dipped the tops in the chocolate glaze instead of spooning it on.  This gave my Eclairs a much more finished look.

They tasted wonderful!  We ate them all in less than 24 hours and I am salivating right now wishing I had just one more to eat!   I think Pierre was right on with this recipe, and I personally can’t wait to make them again.

In conclusion, the Daring Bakers are a wonderful network of knowledgeable, sportive people who make this experience wonderful.  I am proud to now be one!  Thanks Daring Bakers for the beginning of a journey I can’t wait to travel!

Follow the MORE TAG for Pierre Hermé’s Chocolate Éclairs Recipe.

Pierre Hermé’s Chocolate Éclairs
Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé
(makes 20-24 Éclairs)

Posting Day: August 31st, 2008

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) 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.
5) 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.
6) 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) Once the dough is made you need to shape it immediately.
2) Once Baked the éclairs can be kept in a cool, dry place for several hours before filling.

Chocolate Pastry Cream

  • 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
(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
(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.

Assembling the éclairs:

  • Cream Puff’s Made
  • 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.

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