Sunday, August 31, 2008

Chocolate Eclairs (DB)

No one needed to twist my arm to participate in this month's Daring Baker's challenge --- ECLAIRS. The hosts, Meeta of What's for Lunch, Honey? and Tony Hahhan, selected one of my all time favorite pastries, and I was looking forward to trying a recipe from Pierre Herme, pastry chef extrordinaire.

I think most people never think of making eclairs, as it looks like it would take skill and effort to replicate the pastry at home. Surprisingly, this recipe is really straightforward and not time consuming. Once you get down making the choux and tinkering with baking time, these puffy treats are worth making at home.

Once the choux is baked and cooled, now the fun begins...what do I fill them with? I decided to go with three pastry creams: chocolate, vanilla bean, and raspberry. I've heard many great things about Pierre Herme's chocolate pastry cream recipe, so had to go ahead and make the recipe (I did cut the recipe in half with no problem). Definitely use bittersweet, as it delivers a wonderfully intense chocolate punch! For the vanilla and raspberry creams, I used a basic pastry cream recipe, and enhanced the cream with vanilla bean and chambord.

The chocolate and vanilla bean creams were piped into the choux (no slicing needed, just poke a small hole in the choux and pipe the pastry... the holes have been covered by the chocolate glaze). To complement the charmbord cream, I sliced the choux in half and stuffed it with the cream and fresh raspberries.

The results were unbelievably delicious, and I wholeheartedly recommend the Pierre Herme recipe. To see the delicious creations of the other DB'ers, check out the blogroll.

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 thehandle of a wooden spoon into the door to keep in ajar. When the éclairs have been in theoven for a total of 12 minutes, rotate the sheets top to bottom and front to back. Continuebaking 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.

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 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 – 40degrees 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 thebottoms 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 createbubbles.
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 theboil.
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 veryquickly. Do not worry if a slight crust forms at the bottom of the pan, it’s supposed to. Youneed to carry on stirring for a further 2-3 minutes to dry the dough. After this time the doughwill 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 donot 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 itshould 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 thepiped 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.

22 comments:

Erin said...

These look delicious! I bet the raspberries tasted great!

jillian said...

These look delicious and expertly made! I kind of wish that I had some raspberries to go with mine.

Heather B said...

I love the fresh raspberries in the eclairs. So yummy! Great job!

Rebecca said...

Your eclair looks gorgeous with the raspberries inside. Brilliant choice.

Candace said...

Fantastic! Very nice job on this challenge and lovely photos!

Di said...

Mmm... I love the idea of raspberries in these. I used bittersweet (70%) chocolate for both the pastry cream and glaze, and boy were they rich. =)

PheMom said...

Your eclairs all look absolutely fabulous! I didn't get to make mine yet, but yours are making me regret that even more. I'm going to have to get to it soon.

MaryMary said...

I keep seeing fresh fruit and wish I'd thought of it...your eclairs look phenomenal. And I LOVE your pink backdrop--is it fabric or paper>

Cristine said...

Your eclairs look AMAZING! Great job!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Perfect! Those Eclairs look beautiful and extremely good!

Cheers,

Rosa

Marija said...

Your eclaits are perfect!

Steph said...

Wow, those eclairs look amazing!! I like how you stuffed them with raspberries. I agree, if this wasn't a DB challenge, I probably wouldn't make them because it's not something I would think to buy. Thank god it's easier than expected!

Angela said...

Your eclairs look delicious! Wonderful photography, too.

jo said...

looks absolutely delicious and your pictures are really nice!

Alexa said...

Your eclairs came out gorgeous. Lovely pictures.

Katie B. said...

I very much want to reach through my computer for one of your eclairs!! Each one looks fantastic!

Dragon said...

Your eclairs look so good! I love your photos.

erincooks said...

Your eclairs look beautiful!

seamaiden said...

Looks wonderful. The fresh raspberries look so sweet and wonderful- next time I'll use fresh fruit, too!

-Sea

Kirstynn Evans said...

These picutres are fabulous! I know they tasted so yummy too!

Y said...

Love your glossy eclairs, and those raspberries look great too.

MichaM said...

Gorgeous! I love the raspberries - I bet they made a great addition!

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