Sunday, August 31, 2008

Daring Bakers Challenge

This months challenge was chocolate eclairs. I love eclairs and growing up it was always a huge treat if my mom brought eclairs home from the bakery. Compared to the other things I have baked for Daring Bakers this recipe does not call for a lot of ingredients , but you need a lot of patience. I had some trouble with the eclairs deflating. But even though some deflated I was still able to slice them in half and fill them with the best pastry cream you will ever taste. I will 100% be making these again and now I have some great idea for a new filling. SMORE eclair anyone? Thank You to the Daring Bakers for another fantastic challenge.

Chocolate Éclairs by Pierre Herme

Éclairs consist of 3 elements:

Pate a Choux, also known as Choux Pastry or Cream Puff Dough

Pastry Cream

Chocolate glaze

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.

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.

Baking The Eclairs
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 14 minutes. When the éclairs have been in the oven for a total of 14 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 30 minutes.

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

Chocolate Pastry Cream Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé
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.

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.

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.

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.

Assembling the éclairs:
Chocolate glaze
Chocolate pastry cream

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 – 40degrees 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.

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 createbubbles.
2) The éclairs should be served as soon as they have been filled

One last thing Craig gives the eclairs two thumbs up. Since there is no photo you will have to trust me. The eclairs were a total success!!!


Beth said...

I like how your finished eclair barely fits on its plate. That's a good sign. :)

Courtney said...

your eclairs look great, didnt even notice they had deflated. great job and smores sound good!

Anonymous said...

A Smore eclair? That's a neat idea. Your eclairs came out great.

Claire said...

Despite some deflation you had some good air pockets for holding the cream! Great job!

Jude said...

Love the detailed post and step by step pics. Looks delicious.

Eat4Fun said...

Your eclairs look absolutely delicious! Also, a wonderful pictorial/photo of your process and final product. :-)

Anonymous said...

WOW!! What a informative blog you've written, thank you !! The eclairs look yum and a samore eclair???? Oooohh...please! please! please! make them and let us know how it went!!!!

Tanya said...

Your eclairs look incredible! Great job!

Sherry Trifle - Lovely Cats said...

Lovely eclairs! Fabulous mixer too.

Cakelaw said...

Great job Ruth - I love the swirly little puffs in particular.

Half Baked said...

Love the idea of a smore eclair sounds yummy! They look simply delicious!

Zita said...

mmmh...well done, gimme s'more too ;)

Y said...

Smore eclair? Sounds a bit dangerous to me! :D

Vera said...

Ruth, your éclairs are lovely! Great job!

Lisa Michelle said...

A S'more eclair? I just died and went to heaven! They look incredible, and I love the step by step demo photos :)

Adventures in Gluttony said...

They look wonderfully delicious! S'mores eclairs?! You have to make that! that would be amazing!

Amber said...

Where was Craig? He has been missing lately. And he is a good prop. Sophia is mine sometimes. I made mine twice and the second ones deflated also and in a much better oven. I have been planning to make smores with homemade grahm crackers and marshmallows and good chocolate, you may beat me. Good job and great explanations.

A_and_N said...

Holy Cow! Thats a superb post. The Eclairs look heavenly. And I think you should change the name of your blog now. The word 'Amateur" doesnt apply anymore :)

Ruth said...

Thank you everyone for all your nice comments. I will 100% be making the smore eclairs.

All the food Craig has tasted we just havent taken pictures but he loved the eclairs. Next post he will be back on here. I am sure he will be glad to know he is missed.

Thip said...

Hi Ruth,

Thank you for stopping by and nice to meet you. :)

Millie Price said...

Thanks for posting on my blog! I love your photo of all the ingredients laid out, very good idea.

Christy said...

A lot of us who followed the instructions to the letter have had trouble with deflating eclairs, even the hosts,Meeta and Tony, themselves. But I would agree on the fact that the chocolate pastry cream is absolutely to die for!!

Leslie said...

LOVE the puffs! Sorry you had the deflating issue like so many others! But they still turned out lovely! Thanks for yor visit to my site!

Leslie said...

Ruth...In response to your question on my BBQ beef..I see no reason why you couldnt use a dutch oven. I am sure it would work out just fine. I just didnt want to have my oven on all day. Too hot here in Florida..even with a/c I hate the thought of having the oven on for 8 hours. Not to mention my electric bill!OUCH!

Clumbsy Cookie said...

Great step-by-step pictures! Your éclairs are just perfect! Really nice job!

An Apron Straitjacket said...

Great post and the step by step pictures are wonderful! Love the swirly puffs and when you make those S'mores, feel free to send some my way! ;)

Gretchen said...

OMG! Just looking at them and I've gained 10 pounds!!!

Amy J. said...

Oh, yum! And look at all your pictures -- makes me feel like I was right there....and unfortunately, it makes me want to bake more of them! ;>

A_and_N said...

I came here to see if you've posted anything new. But after this whale of a post, you deserve a break :) Enjoy those Eclairs :D

Michelle said...

I know the feeling of taking the golden, puffed-up eclairs out of the oven and watch how the deflate almost instantly. Such an anti-climax.

Your filling looks delicious!