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August Daring Bakers: Chocolate Eclairs

This month Meeta of What’s for Lunch Honey? and Tony had the Daring Bakers made chocolate eclairs from Pierre Herme’s book Chocolate Desserts. I have heard so many good things about this book, and I’m thinking that I might need to add it to my collection soon.  I think that I would have to say that eclairs are my favorite type of pastry.  I remember going to the bakery section of the grocery store with my mom sometimes when I was little and she let my sister and I pick out a treat for later that night.  My sister would usually choose a doughnut with sprinkles, but my mom and I almost always chose an eclair.  I had made this type of pasty before for Tuesdays with Dorie, and wanted to see how the recipes would compare.

We were allowed to make some modifications to the recipe.  We had to make the pastry dough as written, but we could change the chocolate pastry cream or the chocolate glaze, as long as we kept one chocolate element.  I decided to make the recipe as written because there’s no way I would choose not to make chocolate!  I really enjoyed the chocolate pastry cream.  It was delicious, and would be great with some kahula mixed in.  The glaze was also wonderful.  I had some leftover and I think it would be great with a brownie and some ice cream.  I scaled the recipe down because eclairs are not good keepers and David doesn’t care for desserts like this.  I also made bite-size mini eclairs, which I think would be perfect for a party.

I really enjoyed this recipe.  It was easy to make and I finished it all in one evening.  I do like Dorie’s version better because the pastry is a little lighter, but I really liked the chocolate pastry cream and glaze from this recipe.  Thanks Meeta and Tony for a fun recipe.  I can’t wait to find out what September will bring.  You can find other chocolate eclairs all over the web by visiting the Daring Bakers 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 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.

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
  • 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.

[bNotes:[/b]
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.

16 Responses

  1. Don’t you hate it when you try recipes from books and immediately go – well, this is going on the to-buy list! My list is getting a bit long thanks to things like this… Your eclairs look delicious, and I agree that minis would be perfect for a party. Awesome job.

  2. wow those look great and I do think Kahlua would be great addition to add a kick to the chocolate.

  3. i went all chocolate too! yum! i also think i like dorie’s recipe better

  4. Oh yeah! Good idea with the the Kahlua. I found a nice chocolate from Seattle Chocolates at my Albertson’s store, that had nice bits of coffee in it that stayed solid during the cooking that was pretty good. Your icing looked nice and glossy, pretty.

  5. i totally agree with you! dorie’s choux is lighter and better, but this glaze is terrific!

  6. I am glad you enjoyed your eclairs!

    I also LOVE the photo of the German Chocolate Cake below. YUMMY!

  7. i really like dorie’s choux better as well, but i enjoyed the ability to compare. great job!

  8. I had better luck with Dorie’s dough as well, but that was mostly because I had problems with the baking time on this one. I agree, the chocolate pastry cream is fabulous. I’m not a fan of regular pastry cream, but I’ll be making this one again.

  9. Oh man Kahlua spiked? I am all over those!🙂 Yumm!
    I’ll have to try Dorie’s choux recipe next time.

  10. Dorie’s dough fell on me. This one turned out ok. I think I didn’t bake them long enough with Dorie’s version. I took them out because the bottoms were too brown and they fell. I haven’t tried her version again…Maybe I need to do that!

  11. Those look great! I added a espresso and kalhua cream to mine sooo yummy. I have always been an eclair girl myself why waste calories on a doughnut when you can have an eclair

  12. Lovely job! Love the idea of the coffee!🙂

  13. These look just beautiful – great job!

  14. They look good!

  15. Nicely done!

  16. Looks tasty…you said it easy to make right? Maybe i’ll give it a shot over the weekend.

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