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Chocolate Eclairs………….and the likes:)

Posted by vivnidhi on August 31, 2008

This month’s Daring Bakers challenge was the chocolate eclairs. Thanks to Meeta of What’s For Lunch, Honey? and Tony Tahhan of Olive Juice, who were hosting this month’s challenge.

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Mini Eclairs basking in the sun……….not for long though;)

Many many years ago, I had bought a French eclair (it looked so good) at a bakery in India…….cause I was celebrating something. It was a celebration, cause I was using my first hard-earned paycheck to pay for it. One bite into it and I was like “OK, this ain’t my typpa dessert” ………so I kept away from eclairs from  that day on until August 13th. Meeta and Tony had challenged me to make it and I had to……….. The recipe was from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Herme .

I thought maybe the bakery in India really didn’t do a good job of making the eclair! I would certainly do better;). Ha , the innate optimism one has!! I think I did a fair job of it and I don’t think the Indian bakery I ate the eclair at……did a bad job either. Conclusion on 31st August…….its a great dessert, some people should like it……BUT “it ain’t my typpa dessert:)) ”

Anyway, it was truly a fabulous experience to learn about Pâte à Choux. As you will read ahead you will realize that I played too much!! A big thank you to the DB’s for yet another fabulous lesson:).

I prepared for the eclairs when the husband was away and the eclairs were kept ready for him when he returned:). He loved it!! My job’s done , right;). Here’s the detailed recipe with my experiences in black:).

The Recipe:

(makes 20-24 Éclairs)

Chocolate Éclairs by Pierre Hermé

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 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.
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 baking
time should be approximately 20 minutes.
Notes:
1) The éclairs can be kept in a cool, dry place for several hours before filling.

For my first batch, I used my pastry bag without the tip. Felt that the eclairs were too fat and turned up really huge after baking. Baking times are not really perfect in this recipe, would certainly need tweaking. My fat eclairs needed a lot of time to bake otherwise they would be under baked and would deflate. I did not use the wooden spoon in the oven door method. I always baked one tray only at one time.

I also made some gougeres and for that I used a normal ziploc bag, the dough just started oozing out from all places as I was piping it.

For my last batch in which I made mini eclairs …….I used a heavy duty bag……and it worked beautifully. Who said “Third time’s the charm” ?

Ok, if anybody tries to bake these babies, heed my advice. Use a baking tray filled with water at the bottom rack to aid baking the eclairs. Begin with 400F temperature. Bake for 18 minutes. Rotate the pans and lower the temperature to 375F. Poke each eclair with a skewer for moisture to escape and bake for another 5 minutes till it is crisp and brown. Leave them in the oven only to cool with the oven door fully open. Learnt from the fabulous Vera of Baking Obsession!

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 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.

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) 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 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.

This was certainly eggy in taste. Since I did not have any idea about the choux pastry, I stuck with the recipe and used as specified. With chocolate pastry cream and chocolate glaze , one doesn’t notice the egg one bit though!

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.

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Chocolate Pastry Cream’s ready!!

This is the best! No doubt about it, if anyone wants to try the Chocolate Pastry cream for anything, this is the recipe and so easy too!! Don’t change a thing.

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.

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The making of the chocolate sauce

I did not like the chocolate sauce much and even  the chocolate glaze was ok. Too much effort for the result. The ganache used in the filbert gateau here is a better glaze and tastes great too!

I made some gougeres too……….with the choux pastry and fine gruyere cheese. In ultimate fusion food………had the gougeres with cilantro chutney:)).

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Individual paris brests with chopped hazelnuts……….I found these the best!

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Some Ugly ducklings here sitting on kiwi paper and sweetened creme fraiche filling……

The son had a blast assembling these!!

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Ultimate fusion food……..Gougères with Chutney!!

With the gougeres recipe, I did not add garlic, wanted the original cheese taste. Thankfully, I did not attempt anymore pastry types or glazes otherwise this post would be longer:)).I had coffee in mind but decided to stick with the original at the last minute. Now, you really need to thank me:) .

Expenditure:

  • Unsalted butter : $ 2.74 from Walmart…. 1 stick left
  • Semisweet Chocolate: $ 8.30 from Kroger 1 oz. left
  • Heavy cream: $ 2.50 from Kroger some left
  • Sour Cream : $ 1.19 from Kroger some left
  • Gruyere cheese: $ 4.83 200 g.  from Morgan & York very little left

Total: $ 19.76…………..somehow I make it to the amount of $ 20. The expenditure would have been less had I not made 3 attempts. Justification: I did not exceed my budget:) Hope I am better in September.

Now check out the Daring Bakers’ blogroll !

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13 Responses to “Chocolate Eclairs………….and the likes:)”

  1. rachel said

    That is a delighful aray that you made with your choux.

    The ducklings are so innovative!!

    Thanks Rachel! I did play with that choux 🙂

  2. HoneyB said

    Very intriguing the Gourges with Chutney! I would like to try them!
    They’re quite good .You must try them!

  3. gosh, I love that you put down the expenditures. Because sometimes these things can get expensive… And, I think they are best with chutney. I once used them with chedder and mango chundo. Yum.
    Yes I just like to keep a track as to how much I spent this month on Daring Bakers’ challenge cause I can often get carried away:). I am glad I have a few partners in my gougeres crime;-)

  4. bakingobsession said

    Nidhi, congratulations on the completed challenge! And I don’t think your swans are ducklings.
    Thank you very much for mentioning me in your post, I’m touched 🙂
    I am so very honored that you visited my blog Vera. I am completely in awe of your culinary creations. You are too good. Thank you very much for your kind words and thanks for visiting the blog. You deserve a mention for all the wonderful things you make. You should write a book:)

  5. morgana said

    You did some swans!!! Wow, how difficult it seems to me. congratulations, good work.
    Oh Morgana, I am a fan of all the beautiful things you make. This is just a humble attempt :))

  6. Aparna said

    Your choux swans look pretty good.
    This was a challenge that actually worked for me, but like you said “it ain’t my typpa dessert” either.:)
    Yes! I am glad we agree here;) We probably have similar tastes and then we started our blogs at the same time!!

  7. Great job doing the variations with the choux. The swans are cute! 🙂
    Thanks John!

  8. Medhaa said

    They look lovely. The swans are really cute. We too had them with chutney..:))
    Yeah, we Indians can’t help but put some masalas and chutneys everywhere LOL

  9. Marija said

    Ducklings are sooo cute!
    Thanks Marija, I found them quite ugly when I began but I guess they don’t look so bad now;) Thanks a lot for visiting!

  10. Alexa said

    The Eclairs Swans are so creative. Nicely done.
    Thanks Alexa, these were just an attempt, lots of fun:)

  11. The ducklings do not look ugly at all! Very innovative and daring:)
    Thanks a lot for the nice words Harini, my son and I had a great time assembling these! so I have an assistant daring baker too:))

  12. Hi Nidhi, Im an ex Houstonian moved back to Pakistan and was surfing for food recipies till i came across yurs.
    Very nicely explained specially the paronthi and pranthas relationship.
    I have one word for your husband ” Hey Mr. Luckyguy, savour and cherish such a lovely partner and companion”
    Good luck and God bless u, Your friend and wellwisher from Pakistan.
    Haider.

    Thank you! You have been too kind with words.

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