Sunday, August 31, 2008

Strawberry Eclairs

So it's about that time when the Daring Bakers showcase that one special recipe. This month's hosts, Tony Tahhan and MeetaK, picked Chocolate Eclairs from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Herme by Dorie Greenspan.

I was excited because I have never had a real e'clair. The closest thing I have had to an e'clair was a Boston Cream donut (cream filled, chocolate topped baked good).

The rules for this was that the dought for the ecliars must be the pate a choux recipe given and that either the chocolate glaze recipe or the chocolate pastry cream recipe had to be used. I choose to use the chocolate glaze recipe and I filled my eclairs with strawberry pastry cream and vanilla pastry cream.

Pierre Hermé’s Chocolate Éclairs
Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé
(makes 20-24 Éclairs)

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 a 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 hand mixer 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 below.

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.

Cream Puff Dough (see above 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 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 4 1/2 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.

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

Vanilla Pastry Cream
from Williams Sonoma Cakes
1 1/2 cups milk (12 fl oz/375 ml)
1/2 cup sugar (4 oz/125 g)
4 large egg yolks
2 tsp pure vanilla extract (or vanilla paste)
2 tbsp cornstarch

2 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature

1. In a heavy-bottomed sauce pan over medium heat, warm the milk until tiny bubbles form alone the pan edges. Remove from heat
2. In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until blended. Add the cornstarch whisk until blended.
3. Slowly pour the hot milk into the yolk mixture while whisking constantly.
4. Return the mixture to the saucepan, over medium heat, and stir constantly with a wooden spoon until the mixture thickens and just comes to a boil, 2-3 minutes.
5. Pour mixture through a fine-mesh sieve placed over a bowl. Add the butter and vanilla and stir slowly until the butter melts.
6. Press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface, poke a few holes in the plastic with a toothpick and refrigerate until well chilled, about 2 hours.

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 (see above for recipe)

Vanilla pastry cream (see above 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.

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.

END VERDICT - 3 3/4 Stars

Completely assembled these eclairs are yummy in the tummy. I found the cream puff dough to be a bit eggy by itself. I also was not satisfied with the strawberry pastry cream recipe I used so I didn't include it. It called for flour and I find that the pastry cream came together before the flour was cooked off leaving a nasty aftertaste. The vanilla pastry cream very yummy. So yummy that any leftovers was eaten like pudding.

Until next time,

Happy Smacking!


Lunch Buckets said...

It's possible I've never had a real eclair either - cause I thought I like 'em, you know, until I made them!

Rebecca said...

Ooh, strawberry pastry cream sounds yummy! Good choice.

Candace said...

Eclairs are soooo much better than donuts! :) Nice job on yours... the strawberry filling sounds good!

How To Eat A Cupcake said...

Mmm I'd eat a spoonful of that leftover cream! :D