The August Daring Baker's challenge was Chocolate Eclairs. It was hosted by MeetaK and Tony Tahhan and the recipe was taken from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Herme.
All we had to do was follow Pierre's recipe for Pate a Choux and use one chocolate element in or on the eclairs. The suggested filling was Pierre's Chocolate Pastry Cream and let me tell you it is delicious!!
Because I make Eclairs all the time for buffets, I wanted to make them for this challenge but I also wanted to challenge myself to come up with another "play on the traditional eclair". So I decided upon a "Deconstructed Eclair" and served it as a plated dessert.
Here is the procedure for making the Eclairs:
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
In a heavy bottomed medium saucepan, bring the milk, water, butter, sugar and salt to a boil.
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 continue to stir for another 2-3 minutes to dry the dough. After this time the dough will be very soft and smooth.
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 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 piped out onto a parchment lined sheet pan.
You can pipe any size eclairs but try to make them all uniform in size so they bake evenly. I like to make them about 3" - 4" in length and 3/4" - 1" in diameter.
To make the pate a choux grids for the plated dessert, draw the grid lines on a piece of parchment paper. Turn it over and place it on a sheet pan. With a small piping tip #3 or #4 pipe the choux paste onto the parchment following the lines into the size you want. For the circles, pipe the grid lines then pipe a circle of choux paste around the outside of them.
1) Once the dough is made you need to shape it immediately.
2) You can pipe the dough and then freeze it. Simply pipe the dough onto a parchment-lined baking sheet 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.
When ready to bake put them in a preheated 400 degree oven and cook for 15 minutes. Turn the oven down to 375 degrees and cook for another 5 minutes. Turn the oven down to 350 and cook another 5 minutes or until they are nicely browned and puffed and almost hollow on the inside. Remove them from the oven and let them cool before filling.
Chocolate Pastry Cream
Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by PierreHermé
2 Cups Whole Milk
4 Large Egg Yolks
6 Tablespoons Sugar
3 Tablespoons Cornstarch (sifted)
7 Ounces Bittersweet Chocolate (Melted) (preferably Valrhona Guanaja)
1¼ Ounces Unsalted Butter (room temperature)
In a small saucepan, bring the milk to a boil. In the meantime, combine the yolks, sugar and cornstarch together and whisk in a bowl.
Once the milk has reached a boil, temper the yolks by whisking a small amount of the hot milk into the yolk mixture. Continue whisking and slowly pour the rest of the milk into the tempered yolk mixture.
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 stopping) 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.
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.
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 making sure to completely melt each addition. 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.
When ready to fill the eclairs, put the cream in a pastry bag fitted with a small star tip. Make a hole in the side of the eclair and pipe in the cream. Refrigerate the eclairs before putting the ganache on the top.
6 Ounces Semisweet or Bittersweet Chocolate (good quality)
6 Ounces Heavy Cream
1 Tablespoon Light Corn Syrup
Chop the chocolate into small pieces and put into a bowl. Bring to a boil the cream and corn syrup. Pour over the chocolate. Let sit for one minute then stir with a whisk to mix and melt all the chocolate. Stir gently so as not to create any air bubbles. Set aside to cool to 90 degrees F before dipping the tops of the eclairs in it.
Stripe the Eclairs with melted white chocolate.
If you make the deconstructed eclairs plate them by putting the first grid down on the plate. Pipe a nice size rosette of the pastry cream on top of it. Place another grid on the cream and pipe another rosette. Place another grid on that cream and pipe a small rosette on top of it. Put a mint leaf and decoration on top. Decorate the plate with thinned down chocolate ganache or chocolate sauce.