Chocolate Eclairs Part I

This month’s Daring Bakers Challenge is hosted by Tony Tahhan and MeetaK of What’s for Lunch, Honey? This time around they chose to challenge us with Chocolate Eclairs from the cookbook, Chocolate Desserts By Pierre Hermé. I was excited when I first saw the challenge, I’ve always wanted to make cream puffs but was always intimidated by the Pâte à Choux or Cream Puff dough. I’ve had pretty good results from previous Daring Bakers challenges so I really had high hopes for this one.

Eclairs

Unfortunately, it was too good for my winning streak to keep going. So I’m naming this part one because I refuse to give up. I’m definitely making this one again, if only to get it right finally.

So here’s the recipe and my notes.

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

I think my dough came together quite well. It was easier than I thought. However, the problem came with the baking time. If I had taken the time to first visit the Daring Baker Forum to read up on what other bakers had run into, I probably would have saved some grief, but I had been very busy and just got around to baking today, the deadline to post.

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.

My Notes: if you will note on the photo below, my little puffs looked pretty good coming out of the oven. But if you will note the lighter pastries towards the back, they have already deflated soon after taking them out of the oven. They were pretty thin. I had a feeling they weren’t baked enough at 20 minutes since they were still looking a little pale. So I baked them an additional 5 minutes but I guess that still wasn’t long enough.

Puff Pastry

According to our host MeetaK, she had to bake hers an additional 15 minutes in order for the pastry to not collapse.

Anyway, soon after pastries came out of the oven and photographed, the phone rang. Second mistake for the day: I answered the phone. Went to the other room to talk, came back to the kitchen about 30 minutes later and realized my pastries were stuck to the wax paper. I should have taken them up from the baking sheet and onto a cooling rack. When I tried to lift them up, the bottoms stayed on the paper leaving a hole at the bottom of each one.

pastries stuck

I started to give up at this point, but heck, I’m a daring baker, right? So I pushed on anyway…

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.

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

I decided to omit the chocolate and added a teaspoon of vanilla extract instead.

pastry creme

• 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

Since I only had the bottomless pastries, I decided to omit the chocolate sauce to save time and simply melted the bittersweet chocolate in the hot heavy cream and butter mixture. Instead of topping the eclairs with the chocolate glaze, I decided to glaze the bottoms of the pastries with chocolate sauce instead.

chocolate glazed

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.

EclairSo after the bottoming out of my pastries, the assembly instructions kind of went out the window and that’s why the pastry cream is on top rather than between layers of pastry. If you closed your eyes though and just bit into these, you’d think you were biting into some real, true blue eclairs. They were a delicious dessert for tonight.

So check out the Daring Bakers blogroll for a list of other participants and to see how this recipe was supposed to turn out. 🙂

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About Jeanette Moore (JMom)

I am a terrible housekeeper but I do love to cook so it all evens out in the end. I like to try new recipes that I think my family will like. However, I am not one to follow all recipes to the letter. I tend to tweak and change the recipes based on what I have on hand and how I am feeling at the time. Feel free to share your versions, I just might try it out next time I make the dish again.

8 thoughts on “Chocolate Eclairs Part I

  1. Pingback: Cooked From the Heart » Gruyère Cheese Gougères & Galatoire’s Oysters en Brochette

  2. Divya

    Hey that does not look bad at all! what are u talking about… for a first try it looks pretty good. Will look forward to your second version.
    Happy baking!

    Reply

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