August 31, 2008

For the Love of Éclair

This month's Daring Bakers' challenge is éclairs. I have a long history with éclairs and we are very close. Every year for the past 12 years I make 8 dozen or so éclairs for Christmas Eve dinner and to give as gifts to friends and neighbors. They have become a tradition. When I was making this recipe, I kept feeling like something was wrong and then I figured it was that it was the amount! What a difference single recipes make versus my usual tripling the recipe twice. Even the kids said "it doesn't seem like you made enough, Mommy."

I use my Cuisinart when making paté choux - it makes it sooooo easy.

Paté Choux
1 cup of flour
1 stick of butter
1 cup of water
4 eggs
dash of salt

In a heavy bottomed pan bring butter, salt and water to boil. Remove from heat and dump in flour all at once and mix until incorporated. Return to medium heat and stir until flour mixture forms a ball and coats the bottom of the pan. Dump the hot flour into Cuisinart and turn on for 15 seconds. Dump in eggs and run for 30 seconds until the dough is glossy and smooth. {I do the egg part quickly so I don't cook the eggs}. Bake at 400 F on a parchment lined baking sheet.

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 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.
This pastry cream is very rich and thick. I lightened up half of this recipe by folding in 1/2 cup of whipped heavy cream.

I also made vanilla pastry cream
1/4 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups of whole milk
6 egg yolks
1 1/2 tsp of vanilla
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
In a heavy bottomed sauce pan combine the flour, sugar and salt. Stir in milk. Heat over medium and cook until mixture thickens and boils. Remove from heat. Mix egg yolks in separate bowl and temper with the hot flour mixture. Return to pan and cook but do not bring to boil. Cook until thick enough to coat the back of a metal spoon. Remove from heat and strain the mixture through a fine sieve. Add vanilla and chill. Whip the heavy cream and fold into the well chilled pastry cream. Fold in whipped cream in thirds to lighten without deflating. Pipe into éclairs.

Chocolate Ganache
I top my éclairs with a simple ganache. Melt 1 cup of semisweet chocolate and about a 1/4 cup of heavy cream over a double boiler. Add more or less cream according to how thick or thin you would like the ganache. I added a tablespoon of corn syrup for shine. Spoon over éclairs.

Thanks to Meeta and Tony for this month's challenge. Check out their blogs and the blogroll of all the other Daring Bakers who made this tasty challenge.


breadchick said...

You sure can tell you are a master eclair and puff ball maker from this challenge!

Meeta said...

oh i know where to come too if i need more tips! better still i know where to come to when i want perfect looking eclairs!

Natalie... said...

Mmm these look so good!!!
Wonderful job!

Angela said...

Your eclairs are gorgeous! And eight dozen every Christmas eve? Expect to find me on your doorstep :)

ORSprueills said...

Have you ever tried tapioca as a thickening agent, instead of cornstarch?
I got that tip for pies from Sunset magazine and now use it for all desserts that call for cornstarch.

ORSprueills said...

BTW-They look yummy!

Andrea said...

Wow, you are quite an eclair expert! Do you ship eclairs at Christmas time? ;-)

Yours look great!

Kirstynn Evans said...

Really, how do I get on the list of "Who to make Eclairs for"? These look great. I love the ganache recipe, and will use that one next time!

Lis said...

That last picture has me DROOLING! I thought I had my fill of eclairs for a very long time, but now I want more thanks to that one photo! :)


Mary Jane said...

Yum! I'll have to bookmark this. I'm a new flickr friend. You have great photography links, I love Raghubir Singh's work, all the reflections, reminds me of some of Saul Leiter's work, only in India and contemporary.