So I found this really cool online baking group and thought I would give it a shot. Every month, all of the members bake the exact same thing. Since we were really busy last month I had to skip it so this is my first challenge I completed. I was a bit nervous when I saw that the challenge was a Chocolate Eclair recipe by Pierre Herme. Now I was really scared of f’ing this up.
I have made cream puffs before, which is a similar process but, to be baking a recipe from the man who is referred to as the “Picasso of Pastry” – holy crap I was nervous. And of course, I wanted these to come out good and not make anyone I served them to sick. Well with a little courage and and a few cups of coffee, I embarked on the challenge.
To begin, I started out making the dough- which is known as pate a choux. I brought 1/2 cup of whole milk, 1/2 cup of water, 1 stick of unsalted butter (cut into pieces), 1/4 teaspoon of sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt to a boil in a heavy bottomed saucepan. When it came to a boil I added 1 cup of all-purpose flour and stirred like crazy for about three minutes. Then I transferred the dough into my dear Kitchen Aid fitted with a paddle attachment and mixed in three eggs. The dough was very silky and looked so perfect for my first shot at this. After this part, I transferred the dough into a pastry big fitted with a 2cm plain tip and piped the eclairs about 4” long onto a baking sheet lined with a silpat.
I put the eclairs into our POS oven who has a mind of it’s own and prayed for the best. I baked them for about 7 minutes at 375 and then placed the handle of a wooden spoon to slightly prop the oven door open and rotated the eclairs,then continued baking for 12 minutes. Somehow, they turned out and looked so good.
After letting them cool, I cut them in halve and moved on to making the chocolate pastry cream and the chocolate glaze. I was a bit intimidated to make the pastry cream because it uses eggs and heat and I sure did not want to end up with chocolate scrambled eggs-barf! To start, I prepared an ice bath which would be used for cooling the pastry cream. Next, I boiled 2 cups of whole milk. In another pan, I whisked together 4 egg yolks, 6 tablespoons of sugar, and 3 tablespoons of sifted cornstarch.
Then I slowly added the milk to the tempered yolk mixture whisking vigorously and then whisked in 7 ounces of melted bittersweet chocolate. After removing from heat I scraped the pastry cream into a small bowl and place into the ice bath and let it cool to 140F. I removed it from the bath and then added 2 1/2 tablespoons of butter into the mixture, covered and refrigerated. After it completely cooled, I piped the pastry cream into the bottoms of the eclairs. So I thought I was doing pretty good for my first challenge after seeing and tasting along the way- so then I decided I need to finish them off with chocolate glaze. I boiled 1/3 cup of heavy cream over medium heat in a saucepan and slowly incorporated 3 1/2 ounces of finely chopped bittersweet chocolate. While stirring, I added 4 teaspoons of butter and and 7 tablespoons of homemade chocolate sauce (it is made with 4 1/2 ounces of bittersweet chocolate, 1 cup of water, 1/2 cup heavy cream, and 1/3 cup of sugar and a very similar process).
I let the glaze cool a bit and then thought to myself- not so bad for my first challenge but, how do I make them look nice and extra delicious? Since the glaze was thin I knew it was probably going to be up to my spatula to help me out. After looking at it again, I thought- why don’t I just dunk the tops into the glaze? That is what I did and the glaze was even throughout.
After playing in the kitchen for about six hours, they turned out awesome and I am so happy I completed the challenge and my results were wonderful.