Daring Bakers August 2008 / Chocolate Eclairs

The cooking challange for August 2008 was Chocolate Eclairs. The recipe is from Pierre Herme, an expert chocolatier and comes from his book Chocolate Desserts – I own it….it’s fabulous! It includes amazing desserts (check)…It has Pierre Herme’s recipes (check)… and it’s authored by the magnificent Dorie Greenspan (check) – yes you have heard of her if you read my blog. I do posts from her book Baking with Julia every other tuesday (Tuesdays with Dorie) and she is also the chef that authored the recipe of my very well known and well loved almond cake. Really, whats not to love about this challange. Even better, I got to practice my pate a choux skills with the swans earlier this month. Don’t worry it sounds intimidating but it isn’t believe me. It’s a very simple cooked dough. For this challange we had to use the pate a choux recipe provided. We were also given recipes for chocolate pastry cream, chocolate sauce, and chocolate glaze. We had to keep a chocolate element involved. I chose to keep the chocolate glaze and to make the glaze you have to make the sauce…..AHHHMAZING on ice cream…or on a spoon – hey just sayin lol. I finally decided on a cinnamon pastry cream, which I thought finished of the intensity of glaze well.
They were to die for….

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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 425 degrees F. 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 15 minutes (without peeking!). Turn heat down to 375, and bake 8-10 more minutes or until the éclairs are puffed, golden and firm. The total baking time should be approximately 20-25 minutes. Pierce each one with a small paring knife. Turn oven off, and prop door open with wooden spoon, return pans to oven, and let eclairs sit for 30 -45 minutes to dry out.

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)
Cinnamon Pastry Cream (see recipe below)

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. (Temp should be about 175-180.) 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 a food processor, or using your handmixer or if you still have the energy, continue by hand. Let dough cool 2 minutes before you add the eggs. 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 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.

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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.

Cinnamon Pastry Cream

1 cup milk
1/4 cup heavy cream
3 large egg yolks
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon flour
1 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

– In a medium bowl stir eggs and sugar together.
– In a saucepan pan bring milk and cream to a boil.
– Slowly stream into egg mixture. Whisk constantly while combining. When completely combined. Quickly wipe out saucepan and pour egg/milk mixture back into it.
– Place over medium heat and bring to boil once again. Whisk another minute or so (cornstarch thickens at boiling so you should see a much thicker substance)
– Remove from heat and whisk in vanilla.
– Pour into a bowl and place plastic cling wrap directly to top of custard. Chill in fridge at least an hour or two before using.

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Now my eclairs may look a little oddly shaped. That’s because I was originally piping them them to be the body of the swans from earlier. Feel free to pipe in any shape you want! The cinnamon cream paired with the chocolate glaze was absolute heaven!

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