Chocolate eclairs for the daring bakers…

by Sunita on September 1, 2008

Firstly, a very big ‘thank you’ to all of you, who dropped by, yet again, to wish our li’l girl many happy returns of her special day. And, we haven’t forgotten the slice of cake :-)

Now, coming to Chocolate eclairs…

this month’s DB challenge, was chosen by Meeta and Tony. This has been on my ‘to do’ list for quite some time now. And I was really glad that it was the challenge of the month…so thanks to both of you for choosing it. But, that being said, here I am, posting it a day late…but, then, better late than never.

I found the recipe quite straightforward and did not face any hurdles along the way. We have been on a chocolate high recently, so, I made miniature sizes. But we did love them a lot and I do intend to make them at some other time. They puffed up beautifully and held their shape quite well. The best bit about this challenge was the great deal of freedom that we were given.

Chocolate Éclairs by Pierre Hermé

Éclairs consist of 3 elements:

- Pâte à Choux, also known as Choux Pastry or Cream Puff Dough
- Pastry Cream
- Chocolate glaze

The modifications:

1. The dough used for the eclairs must be a pâte à choux from the recipe given below.
2. Keep one chocolate element in the challenge. The recipe below is for a chocolate glaze and a chocolate pastry cream. You choose which chocolate element you want to keep. Then feel free to mix and match flavors to the base recipe.
3. Everything else is fair game.

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 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
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 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.

Notes:
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.

What I did-

  • Made miniature sized ones, piped into eclairs and profiteroles. After baking, I made tiny slits on the sides for the steam to escape.
  • Filled with whipped cream and chocolate mouse.
  • Topped with chocolate glaze, almonds and dessicated coconut.

Did we like it? No! We loved it ! Or rather them! And I am so making some more. Thanks to Meeta and Tony for choosing this yummy challenge.

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{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Meeta September 1, 2008 at 2:09 pm

grand looking eclairs sunita – well done!

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2 pixie September 1, 2008 at 2:10 pm

your eclairs look sumptuous!

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3 Francijn Brouwer September 1, 2008 at 2:25 pm

That's a great picture you put on the forum & on your blog! The variety in the eclair really makes it something special.

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4 Clumbsy Cookie September 1, 2008 at 2:45 pm

You’ve been really creative with your decorating! They’re perfect and so cute!

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5 Lisa Michelle September 1, 2008 at 3:08 pm

Wow..those are gorgeous, and your photographs are spectacular! Ill trade you mine for yours! lol

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6 jo September 1, 2008 at 3:16 pm

absolutely gorgeous looking eclairs and the pictures are so wonderful!

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7 Mcwhisky September 1, 2008 at 4:17 pm

Very good looking eclairs you have there! :)

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8 Tartelette September 1, 2008 at 5:14 pm

Your eclairs are gorgeous, just like anything coming out of your kitchen :)
Well done again!

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9 breadchick September 1, 2008 at 5:59 pm

OH wow! Those are really puffy Sunita.

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10 musical September 1, 2008 at 8:52 pm

First of all, belated Happy B’day to dear Rengoni and Agastya! The eclairs are really delectable. Yummy!

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11 Susan from Food Blogga September 1, 2008 at 10:30 pm

Oh, my, I’d one of each design, please!

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12 Dragon September 1, 2008 at 11:42 pm

Your eclairs are so lovely and beautifully decorated. Great job!

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13 A_and_N September 2, 2008 at 12:02 am

Super they are! OMG, who loves sweets in your house? :) Don’t say the kids ;)

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14 Pearlsofeast September 2, 2008 at 12:18 am

OMG they are so yummy and scrumptious.I loved the slice of cake,too good.

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15 Jane September 2, 2008 at 12:33 am

Wow, beautiful. I really love how you finished them all. They look ready to sell. :)
Jane of VeganBits.com

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16 Rachel September 2, 2008 at 1:39 am

There’s this professional look about your eclairs..perfect in all aspects…and who could resist choc mousse…sigh!!!

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17 Lunch Buckets September 2, 2008 at 1:57 am

What an assortment! Gorgeous work – as always :)

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18 Uma September 2, 2008 at 4:47 am

beautiful eclairs! Lovely presentation. And the slice of cake is just scrumptious, Thank you!

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19 Aparna September 2, 2008 at 5:07 am

These look fantastic, Sunita. I love the pictures.;)
And the chocolate mousse.
Haven’t been here (and other blogs) for a while ) for various reasons.
Belated birthday wishes to Rengoni. How quickly they do grow up.:)

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20 Purnima September 2, 2008 at 7:30 am

The pics of eclairs r gorgeous n arranged so beautifully in a platter, Sunita! How tastefully each piece has been decorated, u must be extremely patient !! The cuts on nuts too- very intriguing!! Its a visual treat! Buckets of drool on each of ur post!
(I m very very late, yet I wd like to WISH, ur lovely two, a HAPPPPPPY BUDDAYYYYY!)

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21 SMN September 2, 2008 at 7:43 am

Sunita amazing and i always look forward for DB challnge in ur page. ur an amazing baker girl..

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22 arundati September 2, 2008 at 8:58 am

fab éclairs!!

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23 Kitchen Flavours September 2, 2008 at 12:10 pm

First belated birthday wishes to your sona nd daughter. Eclairs looks awesome so as birthday cake.

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24 Medhaa September 2, 2008 at 12:46 pm

Wow these Look so lovely, love the decoration. Belated birthday to your Kids.

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25 Shilpa September 2, 2008 at 1:16 pm

Many many brithday wishes to your kid Sunita. What a lovely cake. I love the look of your Eclairs too. Well done.

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26 Usha September 2, 2008 at 3:48 pm

the eclairs look truly awesome..:)

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27 farida September 2, 2008 at 5:22 pm

Your eclairs look so good, Sunita! I loved this months’ challenge and just like you found it hurdle-free:)

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28 Divya Vikram September 2, 2008 at 6:59 pm

pretty!pretty!pretty!

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29 Cham September 3, 2008 at 2:48 am

They re excellent ur eclairs :)

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30 Y September 3, 2008 at 4:55 am

Mini eclairs are too cute. Love the way you decorated them too.

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31 sunita September 3, 2008 at 12:12 pm

All,
Thank you so much for your kind remarks. This was one easy and yummy challenge, which I really enjoyed.Looking forward to the next, now :-)

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32 Deborah September 3, 2008 at 4:19 pm

Your eclairs look great! I love the mini size.

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