Monday, September 1, 2008

CHOCOLATE ÉCLAIRS - THE DARING BAKERS

After 11 months of baking as a member of "The Daring Bakers", my eager to learn more and put my knowledge to the test is still intact. I'm an autodidact baker (& cook) who craves to assimilate information and learn more about anything that takes place in the kitchen, so August's challenge had everything to satisfy me...

Although, I must say that I was looking forwards to something less chocolaty, more seasonal, lighter, more refreshing and a lot fruitier, the recipe that was proposed still enthusiasted me, mainly because it originates from one of the books by the French pastry king himself, Pierre Hermé.

I had already made wonderful "Choux Pastry" (see my "Profiterole" recipe) as well as "Pastry Cream" in the past, so nothing was really new to me, but I was looking forwards to getting to try that recipe as I wanted to see how good those "Chocolate Eclairs" would be and if they would be the best I've eaten so far...

This month, nothing was really difficult (at least for me) and nothing was time-consuming. Things went smoothly and I didn't come across any major problem nor did my kitchen end up looking like a battlefield after a mayhemic confrontation, yet I wasn't exactly satisfied by my "Chocolate Eclairs" as the "Choux Pastry" didn't rise correctly and never looked as puffy as when I use my "The King Arthur Flour" recipe. Instead of being the dainty and beautiful little puffs that I generally get, those looked sad, deflated and quite shaggy, eventhough I followed the instructions to the letter. It was the very first time that I had such bad looking "Cream Puffs" and, boy, that depressed me a little (well, actually, a lot) as I thought that I would get better results with a Pierre Hermé recipe!

Anyway, maybe I'm a bit too much of a perfectionist and I tend to see flops where there are none (or no major ones...)! In any case, those "Chocolate Eclairs" were far from being bad or totally hideous. It's just that they weren't as impeccable or as dainty as I wanted them to be.

Eventhough the "Cream Puff" cases weren't totally gratifying shape-wise, the "Chocolate Pastry Cream", which I flavored with ground tonka bean, was very delicate texture-wise, refined in flavor and absolutely scrumptious. The coffee-flavored (my flavoring) "Chocolate Glaze" was wonderful, but it was too runny in my opinion. It would have been perfect to drizzle over ice cream, but it was quite difficult to glaze the "Chocolate Eclairs" with it as it never set well, even after leaving the tops of the "Chocolate Eclairs" for 40 minutes in the refrigerator. In order, to solve that problem, I added some icing sugar to the warm "Chocolate Glaze" and it did the trick.

All in all, those "Chocolate Eclairs" were gorgeous. I would definitely have prefered something less chocolate-oriented and more summery, that's sure, but I enjoyed every bite I took! So, it was a real success, no matter what!

I realy want to thank Tony Tahhan at "Tony Tahan" (USA) and Meetak at "What's For Lunch Honey?" (Germany) - make sure to ckeck their wonderful sites - for having chosen that interesting recipe and for making me discover new horizons!!!

~ Chocolate Éclairs by Pierre Hermé ~
Recipes from "Chocolate Desserts" by Pierre Hermé.

Makes 20-24 éclairs.


CHOCOLATE PASTRY CREAM

Ingredients:
2 Cups (500g) Whole milk
4 Large egg yolks
6 Tbsp (75g) Sugar
3 Tbs Cornstarch, sifted
7 Oz (200g) Bittersweet chocolate, melted
1/3 Tsp Ground Tonka bean
2 1/2 Tbsp (1 1/4 oz/40g) Unsalted butter, at room temperature

Method:
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, the ground tonka 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 (60° C), 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).

Remarks:
Tempering the eggs raises the temperature of the eggs slowly so that they do not scramble.
In order to avoid a skin forming on the pastry cream, cover with p
lastic wrap pressed onto the cream.
The pastry cream can be made 2‐3 days in advance and stored in the refrigerator.


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CHOCOLATE GLAZE

Makes 1 cup or 300g.

Ingredients:
1/3 Cup (80g) Heavy cream
1/2 Tsp Coffee powder
3 1/2 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

Method:
1. In a small saucepan, bring the heavy cream to a boil. Remove from the heat and slowly begin to add the coffee powder and the chocolate, stirring with a wooden spoon or spatula.
2. Stirring gently, stir in the butter, piece by piece followed by the chocolate sauce.

Remarks:
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).
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/35° to 40° C) when ready to glaze.

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CHOCOLATE SAUCE

Makes 1 1/2 cups or 525 g.

Ingredients:
4 1/2 Oz (130 g) Bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 Cup (250 g) Water
1/2 Cup (125 g) Crème fraîche or heavy cream (35% fat)
1/3 Cup (70 g) Sugar

Method:
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 (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).

Remarks:
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.
This sauce is also great for cakes, ice-cream and tarts.


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PIERRE HERMÉ'S "CREAM PUFF DOUGH"

Enough for 20-24 éclairs.

Ingredients:
1/2 Cup (125g) Whole milk
1/2 Cup (125g) Water
1 Stick (4 ounces/115g) Unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
1/4 Tsp Sugar
1/4 Tsp Salt
1 Cup (140g) All-purpose flour
5 Large eggs (63g), at room temperature

Method:
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. The dough should be still warm. It is now ready to be used for the éclairs).
4. Preheat your oven to 375° F (190° 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 inch (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).

Remarks:
Once the dough is made you need to shape it immediately.
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.

The éclairs can be kept in a cool, dry place for several hours before filling.

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ASSEMBLING THE ÉCLAIRS

You'll need:
1 Qt Chocolate Glaze
1 Qt Chocolate Pastry Cream
20-24 Cream Puffs Shells

Method:
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. Spread the glaze over the tops of the éclairs using a metal icing spatula (the glaze should be barely warm to the touch - between 95°to 104° F or 35° to 40° C, as measured on an instant read thermometer). 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.

Remarks:
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.
The éclairs should be served as soon as they have been filled, otherwise they'll get soggy.

Etant donné la longueur du texte original, je n'ai malheureusement pas pu faire une traduction française de ce billet et je m'en excuse auprès de tous mes amis lecteurs et blogueurs francophones!!!

Je vous suggère de vous rendre sur les blogs mentionnés ci-dessous. Vous y trouverez cette recette en version française:

Chez Anne de "A Foody Froggy In Paris" (France)
Chez Isa de "Les Gourmandises d'Isa" (Canada)

115 comments:

  1. Well they certainly look like they taste good as I'm sure they did!! I'm always so impressed with you daring bakers! How courageous to tackle a Pierre Hermé recipe!

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  2. Your eclairs look great. I love the red sugar on top. It looks so chic

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  3. c'est superbe rosa :)
    j'ai modifié le temps et la température de cuisson..car d'emblée, ça ne me convenait pas comme proposé...enfin..tu verras ça demain :)
    bises!

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  4. Man, I can't tell you how many of these I've made in my life. Choux is very versatile and you can do a lot of different things with it. I've skipped pastry cream and used Devonshire Clotted Cream. Simple whipped cream and fresh berries is also divine.

    Yours look pretty good though - trust me, I've seen (and made) some pretty bad ones!

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  5. Là j'ai carrément l'eau à la bouche!
    Que c'est bon des éclairs et qu'ils sont beaux les tiens.
    :)

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  6. yeah, i phrased this gently in my write-up, but i think the choux recipe is a bit of a bust. it's too eggy and at the 20 minute point, there was no way it was ready to come out of the oven.

    your do look really pretty though, and tonka bean in the pasrty cream-- yum!! i keep meaning to see if i can get tonka bean here in australia.

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  7. I love the red sugar, too! It goes very nicely with the reflection of blue! These look delicious. Could I just come and eat leftovers at your house??? I can't imagine how lovely that would be. Your food always looks so elegant!

    Blessings!
    Lacy

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  8. Very well done. Your presentation is beautiful.

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  9. Je croquerais bien dans mon écran, mais bob cette proposition est si alléchante, j'adore, bravo!!

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  10. As always, another wonderful Daring Baker creation. Looks scrumptious!

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  11. Glad to see I wasn't the only one disappointed with the recipe. Yours, however, still look lovely!

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  12. oh delicious, my favourite in confiseries.

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  13. What are you talking about. They look perfect. Its not about total perfection but taste, and I bet these were . Great job.

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  14. Your eclairs look perfect to me Rosa - yum!

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  15. ils sont nettement plus beaux que ceux du pâtissier du village le plus proche...mais rien qu'à la longueur de la recette , je sens la flemme m'envahir....Je lis cela comme une roman, en fait...dommage que ça ne puisse pas se livrer par E.Mail vers l'heure du gouter!

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  16. They look great! I wish I could grab one!

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  17. Gorgeous photography as usual! This was not my favorite challenge, either, but darn that pastry cream was good!

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  18. Même si tu trouves qu'ils n'ont pas assez gonflé, moi je les trouve jolis tes éclairs...

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  19. Hi Rosa,
    Eclaires look good.
    This month challenge seems not too difficult for me too.

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  20. Wow! Ils sont superbes ces éclairs, quelle belle recette!

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  21. Tes éclairs sont superbes et avec une recette de P.H. à déguster les yeux fermés.Bravo

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  22. How lucky that you didnt have a busy month Rosa. I can feel the twinge of not quite making the perfect one; I'm quite like that too. Yours do look great...very yummy!!!

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  23. Rien que deux mots : bravo. J'ai tenté 2 fois et râté. Mes éclairs étaient aussi plats qu'une table à repasser.
    Bises
    Bon dimanche

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  24. Bonjour Rosa, tes éclairs sont superbes. Merci pour ces photos très gourmandes et pour les liens vers une version française de cette recette, pour les paresseuses en traduction comme moi (surtout pour les équivalences culinaires).
    Bisous et merci de ton passage sur ton blog. Chris

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  25. They look great and I love the red sugar. I can understand your feelings about wanting something summery but for me it was an excuse to do something I'd been missing so I didn't even think of that.

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  26. Un de mes desserts préférés:)
    Ils sont très réussis!!

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  27. I would so love to taste a bit of this chocolate Eclair now... Well done Rosa!;)

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  28. Bonjour !
    Je suis contente de pouvoir te visiter a nouveau apres cette semaine d'absence ! Merci pour tes visites !
    Tes eclairs sont tout simplement professionnel et j'ai bien envie d'essayer aussi...
    Binne semaine et bon hiver comme on dit chez nous !
    Bises

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  29. Rosa,je le trouve très beau tes éclaires avec une belle ganache brillante et lisse et la petite touche perso avec la ligne rouge en sucre...
    Je suis certaine qu'ils étaient ''delicious''
    Bonne journée!

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  30. Rosa, they look so beautiful I would have never known that you were a touch disappointed with the outcome. I so want one to go with my coffee this morning.

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  31. Maybe they're not as good as your usual ones, but these eclairs look very good to me.
    I actually managed this challenge without any problems, a first for me.:)

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  32. Your eclairs are beautiful. Interesting about the recipe - I don't have a comparison but mine deflated the first round until I found a remedy to bake them longer.But aren't they delicious!

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  33. No doubt about it, your eclairs are gorgeous and beautiful!! You've done an excellent job for this month's challenge!

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  34. T'as eu le courage de faire toutes les recettes ! Je t'avoue que j'ai eu la flemme de faire le glaçage de PH mais quand je vois le tiens bien brillant, je me dis que j'ai peut-être eu tord !

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  35. Your eclairs are really lovely... and the photos are wonderful!

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  36. Well I think that your puffs/éclairs turned out brilliantly :D. Look delicious too.

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  37. I think your eclairs look wonderful. Not heard of tonka beans before, but love the colour.

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  38. Nice job on your eclairs! they look great!

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  39. Rosa, beautiful creations as ever! Love the shiny red sugar!

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  40. Gorgeous shots you have! The eclairs are prettily done up. Love the sprinkles ;)

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  41. They look beautiful Rosa! I love the sprinkles - makes them look really whimsy and pretty. I think they turned out great!

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  42. comme toujours, tes photos sont magnifiques, et nous mettent l'eau à la bouche !

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  43. oh the same thing happened with mine - the problem could be too much egg. your eclairs look beautiful nonetheless. very nice.

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  44. We are always the harshest critics of our own work, don't you think? :) I think your eclairs look great! And I plan to try the King Arthur recipe for comparison.

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  45. Beautiful eclairs! Absolutely lovely. The sprinkles are so pretty too!

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  46. Looks so tasty! Beautiful job! Wonderful photos.

    Paz

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  47. Lovely, I really like how you topped them off with colored sugar. They look great!

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  48. Très joli! J'adore les petits sprinkles rouges! Contente de voir que la crème pâtissière a plu a plusieurs personnes... contrairement à moi! hi hihi.

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  49. They look absolutely bautiful to me! I love the red sparkle on top of the dark chocolate!

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  50. Well, Rosa, they sure look totally gorgeous. Tonka bean . . . now that's going over the top!

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  51. WWWWAAAOOOUUUU quelle merveille et tes photos sont superbes j'en reste scotchée devant mon écran !!

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  52. I had the same issue with them not rising quite right. Yours look great! I really wish I had done something with coffee.

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  53. They look fantastic, Rosa! Love your photos!!

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  54. Rosa, the most important thing how the éclairs taste. Although, I think they also look very good. Great job!

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  55. I think they look fabulous. Some of my eclairs deflated too, I think it has to do with the baking time of the recipe (seemed a little short). But no worries, I bet they tasted amazing.

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  56. I imagine you get amazing eclairs where you live? I found mine were too sweet and I only ate one. I put ham and mustard in my own private eclair and I declare it was great!

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  57. Mmmmmm. Yummy. Love the red sugar touch on top.

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  58. me voilà de retour et je rattrape mon retard sur mes blogs préferés,enfin j'essaye loll
    je pique un de tes magnifiques éclairs au chocolat
    bizzzzz

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  59. honestly, i find this recipe very difficult to work with as well. I had to extend the baking time of the choux pastry to make them turn out the way I wanted. And I couldn't agree more on the chocolate glaze; I find it too runny and took a long time to set. When it sets, it also did not retain its original shiny glaze. But I think that yours looked really good despite all the setbacks!

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  60. Love the topping and the flavours you used!
    Too bad they didn't turn out exactly how you expected, they look wonderful despite it.

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  61. Une sacrée tentation

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  62. ça c'est de l'éclair de compet !!!!!
    youhou !!!! tu fais vraiment pas de livraison à domicile ????
    Et dis moi, il n'y aurait pas un nouvel objectif dans l'air ? hein ? ;)

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  63. wouaaahhh !!!!!! ils sont magnifiques
    c'est une patisserie que je n'ai encore jamais faite ; bizarre , non ?

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  64. Super bien fait! J'aime bien le sucre rouge dessus...

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  65. Rosa they look just perfect! I'm with you, it was a little heavy on the chocolate, but still good!

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  66. A t on le droit de commencer la semaine par ce genre de douceur ....aie aie ...biz

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  67. I think your eclairs look really nice even if you don't think they are perfect. I hope I'm still as enthusiastic as you after 11 months in the Bakers.

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  68. Hi Rosa,
    I like the new looking...
    Iffet

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  69. Oh la la, tes photos sont à... croquer !

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  70. Although you're not happy with them, they still look lovely! I just think the baking instructions were a *little* flawed... :)

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  71. Your eclairs look great and I just love the red sugar spinkled over the top :)

    Rosie x

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  72. The red is so fun! I read your profile and you are by far the most interesting person with varied tastes. I like that. I will be back for more.

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  73. I think they look delicious.

    Love how your define yourself as an autodidact baker and cook--as much as theory and instruction are good, I don't think anything quite beats rolling up your sleeves and just doing it.


    j

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  74. Ils sont magnifiques, digne des grands pâtissiers !!!!
    Bisous, Doria

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  75. quel boulot, magnifiques tes éclairs au chocolat bravo!!!!

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  76. I can't resist éclairs and these surely looks yummy!

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  77. Your eclairs look really good!

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  78. That shiny, silky chocolate is irresistible!

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  79. Looks delicious to me.... I'd gladly have a dozen of those.. Hopefully not all in one sitting.

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  80. Your eclairs turned out really well. I like that you added coffee flavor to the glaze - coffee and chocolate pair so well together.

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  81. I love how you've decorated your eclairs. Gorgeous!

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  82. Sorry for the disappointments with deflation and it being choc vs. summery and fruity!

    I am so glad you recommended that other recipe for the choux! Mine deflated too as did many others who I have visited so far. It has been rare that someone didn't experience it! I just filled mine extra full of cream and hoped kept my mouth shut hoping none would be the wiser!

    Okay, the real reason I came today is to print off that recipe for the bread you posted last week. I'm craving hummus and I think it will be the perfect compliment. I will let you know how it goes. Thanks Rosa!

    PS -thanks for the info on Tonka beans, very intriguing. I haven't ever tried them. I will probably hop on ebay today and see if any of the spice dealers sell them and get experimenting.

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  83. je ne suis pas très chocolat mais à voir tes photos, j'ai bien envie de me laisser tenter.

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  84. as usual your comment are so interesting to me.
    Every month I look forward your tips and tricks and your remarks looks like mine, I put the responsability to the cooking method and I've noted that still baked they were tender and after chilling overnight they became hard and crunchy.
    anyway as usual great job.

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  85. Love your eclairs! Great tip, about the glaze. If I ever encounter problems in the future, I'll be sure to try your method of recovery! :)

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  86. Magnifiques ces éclairs, tu pourrais ouvrir une pâtisserie...je serai ta première cliente!

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  87. Sublimes ! Ils sont à tomber tes éclairs....! Tu as du te régaler à les faire et à les manger !
    Je file vite chez Isa pour la recette en français....a part un vieux reste de langue allemande...une catastrophe...et plus assez jeune pour m'y remettre (lol)
    Bises

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  88. Thanks Rosa for coming over to look at my eclairs. Your eclairs look great! I like the sprinkles on top to add color.


    I found the choux recipe a litlte less puffy than I the one I usually use but since I made my eclairs mini it didn't matter too much. I htink I'll stick to my old favorite recipe too.

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  89. Rosa, Your eclairs are GORGEOUS!!! Perfect!

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  90. Love the decorations on top! The sprinkles add a beautiful touch.

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  91. Chèvre, oui je deviens chèvre lorsque vos recettes ne sont pas traduites ... Grrr. Néanmoins, amitiés de Golovine en Suisse !

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  92. Eh bien, c'est une belle réussite chez toi aussi, là encore j'en ai l'eau à la bouche!

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  93. Oh dear. I've never had eclairs with chocolate in the middle. They look divine! Rosa, you are absolutely amazing.

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  94. Your eclairs are simply amazing, wonderful work, bravo!!

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  95. C'est toujours moins difficile pour moi lorsque c'est traduit mais, je salive...

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  96. Tu sembles avoir parfaitement relevé le défi ! bravo moi ça m'ouvre l'appétit

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  97. Superbe, bravo c'est absolument magnifique!!!! Et ça doit être trop bon!

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  98. miam nmiam ,j'en mangerai bien 2 ou 3 lol

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  99. J'en croquerai bien un, là tout de suite!
    Bises

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  100. Très sympa ces éclairs!! Félicitations pour ce beau travail!Bonne journée.

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  101. Yummy! I am having some coffee and would love one of these chocolate eclairs right now (I need to stop visiting your blog when I'm hungry, it's pure torture!).

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  102. Tes éclairs sont tout simplement sublimes ! Je retiens la recette, mon homme adore ça, il sera bien content que je lui en fasse !
    Merci, bises !

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  103. They look wonderful Rosa! I loved this challenge :)

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  104. Mon gâteau préféré, j'aurais dû comprendre plus tôt que c'était le dernier challenges des DB, je vais m'empresser de tester. Les tiens sont super jolis.

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