August’s Daring Bakers Challenge: Chocolate Éclairs

August 31, 2008

IMG_2809 by you.

This month’s Daring Bakers Challenge was hosted by MeetaK and Tony and I was excited to discover they had chosen chocolate éclairs.  Custards and pastry creams are a weakness of mine, and I still giggle when I recall a Christmas over a decade ago when I attempted a croquembouche as my pièce de résistance.  Suffice it to say the tower was more of a molehill and I was still finding sugar filaments days later.

The Challenge required I keep one chocolate element, so I kept the glaze and simply omitted the chocolate from the pastry cream and kept all the other ingredients.

Pierre Hermé’s Chocolate Éclairs
Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé
(makes about 15 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. Score the top lightly with a fork.  The dough should give you enough to pipe 15 éclairs.

IMG_2791 by you.

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. (I ended up baking the éclairs about 30 minutes and I discovered I should never have opened the oven door).

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.

IMG_2793 by you.

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.

IMG_2789 by you.

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.

IMG_2788 by you.

I simply omitted the melted chocolate from the recipe.

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.

IMG_2794 by you.

I used melted white chocolate and a toothpick to create the tulip designs.  While I had some problems with  the éclairs deflating (they simply weren’t cooked enough), I enjoyed this month’s challenge.  And my husband’s officemates did too.

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38 Responses to “August’s Daring Bakers Challenge: Chocolate Éclairs”

  1. rainbowbrown Says:

    How pretty. How very pretty. Well done!

  2. Cynthia Says:

    I found I had to cook mine at least 15 minutes longer than the recipe stated. They puffed up really pretty and dried out real nice. I love the arrows you put on yours. And the fork marks! Lovely.

  3. Cakelaw Says:

    Gorgeous – I love the tulip design in the glaze.

  4. marye Says:

    Beautiful! Yours look luscious!


  5. Wow ! Truly awesome !

  6. HoneyB Says:

    The eclairs look awesome!

  7. fanny Says:

    your pictures are so gorgeous. bright and fresh. so are your eclairs.

    xx fanny

  8. Aparna Says:

    Your eclairs are looking lovely. I especially loved the pattern on the glaze.

  9. jillian Says:

    Your eclairs look perfect and I love your photography!

  10. Bunny Says:

    Your eclairs look so darn good! You did a fantastic job on them!

  11. Ann Says:

    Your eclairs look gorgeous.Congrats!

  12. Marie Says:

    How pretty. I like the tulip design you did on top. Bravo!

  13. Eileen Says:

    Great éclairs, and I’m with you. I have a weakness for custards and pastry creams too. And I love making anything with choux dough!


  14. Very elegant eclairs!

  15. Gabi Says:

    Beautiful glaze on your eclairs! You always do such a lovely job 🙂
    xo

  16. Tony Says:

    the white chocolate swirls on top make you eclairs look so elegant!! Thanks for baking with us – great job : )

  17. claire Says:

    Wow! Your eclairs look perfect! Wonderful job!

  18. Angela Says:

    Wow! These are stunning and I love the design on top! Very creative of you. (And you must have a very steady hand, too!)


  19. Great design. Smart idea on the vanilla filling, the double chocolate was a bit too much!

  20. Lynn Says:

    Beautiful. I am very impressed. I like your site as well.


  21. Your eclairs look beautiful! That is the glossiest glaze I’ve ever seen. I want to dip a finger right into it!


  22. superbe eclairs. That glaze looks stunning.

  23. Tina Says:

    Beautiful Pictures!! Your eclairs looks wonderful and I love the little white chocolate tulips (atleast thats what they look like to me) on top. Absolutely beautiful!

  24. Jude Says:

    Love the shiny glaze and the pattern on it. Look s delicious.

  25. Gina Says:

    I love the tulip design in the glaze! Beautiful eclairs!

  26. Tanya Says:

    Beautiful eclairs! Your glaze looks wonderful!

  27. Diane Says:

    Great eclairs. I also baked mines longer but they turned out great. I find that baking them longer also meant that they didn’t taste “eggy”.

  28. Ann Says:

    So pretty and tasty-looking!

  29. Jo Says:

    really love how you’ve dressed up your eclairs!

  30. Ruth Says:

    Your eclairs look so pretty and professional they look like they could have come from a bakery.

  31. Kimberly Says:

    I love stopping by your blog to see how your Daring Baker’s challenges come out, they’re always so gorgeous and original 🙂 Love the tulip design!

  32. Shandy Says:

    Your eclairs look wonderful and I absolutely LOVE your tulip designs! Eclairs happens to be my hubby’s all time favorite dessert so I think he was more excited about this month’s challenge then I was =D.

  33. Mary Says:

    The tulip design is gorgeous. And I love how your glaze was so shiny.

  34. lisamichele Says:

    Perfection, from the eclairs, to the presentation, to the photos!

  35. Chez US Says:

    The design is wonderful. I love your eclairs! I wish my glaze was a brilliant!

  36. marion Says:

    they look just wonderful ! you’ve done a great challenge , congratulations !!!!! Your glaze is so shiny ! whaow !

  37. Joanna Says:

    Simply gorgeous eclairs! I love the dark/white chocolate contrast and the tulip design… just stunning.


  38. Absolutely gorgeous eclairs. An amazing challenge result 🙂


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