Pâte à Choux – anyone can make it! (Chocolate éclairs)

So, finally, this post goes LIVE! I’ve been deep in slumber for what feels like over 9000 years. See what I did there? No? OK… I have terrible pollen allergies and this year seems to have one of the highest rates of pollen particles in the air in a long time, that’s global warming for ya. Anyway, I’ve been working on a couple of drafts for a while but simply haven’t gotten around to finishing them, but here we go, the first of many to be posted.

So, éclairs, you say? Yeah… Not an easy one. I’ve never had an éclair before either, which didn’t help. Turns out, it’s really difficult to make something when you have no idea what the end result is supposed to smell, taste or look like. I did well though, my stepmother said they taste the way they’re supposed to but frankly I don’t see what the big fuss is about. Not my favourite pastry. Don’t get me wrong, they weren’t inedible or anything, it’s just that, with all the time and effort that went into making these, I was expecting fireworks. What I got were a slight fizz and some smoke. But don’t get discouraged, I definitely think it’s something you should try! I learned a lot from this endeavour and I appreciate the experience. So give it a try! Here’s the recipe!

Chocolate Éclairs by Pierre Hermé (adapted recipe)

makes 20-24 éclairs

Ingredient list:

Pâte à Choux
Cream Puff Dough

1/2 cup (125g) whole milk
1/2 cup (125g) water
1 stick (4 ounces; 115g) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (140g) all-purpose flour
5 large eggs, at room temperature

Crème Pâtissière au Chocolat
Chocolate Pastry Cream

2 cups (500g) whole milk
4 large egg yolks
6 tablespoons (75g) sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch, sifted
7 oz (200g) bittersweet chocolate, melted
2 1/2 tbsp (1 1/4 oz: 40g) unsalted butter, at room temperature

optional: 1 teaspoon of instant coffee powder

Chocolate Glaze
This batch makes for about 1 cup or 300g of glaze, YOU WILL ONLY NEED ABOUT HALF OF THAT

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

Chocolate Sauce – for the glaze
makes 1 ½ cups or 525g – you will not need the full batch

4 1/2 oz (130 g) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup (250 g) water
1/2 cup (125 g) crème fraîche, or heavy cream
1/3 cup (70 g) sugar

INSTRUCTIONS:

Pâte à Choux:

In a heavy bottomed medium saucepan, bring the milk, water, butter, sugar and salt to the 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 carry on stirring for a further 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 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.
The dough should still be warm. It is now ready to be piped and baked.

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.
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 you enough to pipe 20-24 éclairs.


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.

Crème Pâtissière:

In a small saucepan, bring the milk and coffee powder to a boil.  In the meantime, combine the yolks, sugar and cornstarch together and whisk in a heavy-bottomed saucepan.

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.

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.

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 (60 C) remove from the ice-water bath and stir in the butter in three or four instalments. 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.

Chocolate Glaze:

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.
Stirring gently, stir in the butter, piece by piece followed by the chocolate sauce. While still hot, dip the top half of your éclair in the glaze, or drizzle on using a spatula. Set aside to cool.

Chocolate Sauce:

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.

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.

Assembly:

Using a serrated bread knife, cut the éclairs in half (see picture above). Pipe the filling into the bottom half of one éclair, then place the glazed half on top. Serve immediately.

END NOTES:

  • Once the dough is made it needs to be piped immediately
  • If you don’t wan to bake the éclairs right away, you can freeze them after they’ve been piped by simply piping the dough onto parchment-lined baking sheets, then 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.
  • The pastry cream can be made 2-3 days in advance and stored in the refrigerator.
  • In order to avoid a skin forming on the pastry cream, cover with plastic wrap pressed onto the cream.
  • Tempering the eggs raises the temperature of the eggs slowly so that they do not scramble.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The chocolate SAUCE can be stored in the fridge for up to two weeks in an air tight container. Before using, heat up slightly in the microwave or in a double boiler.
  • The éclairs can be kept in a cool, dry place for several hours before filling.
  • I AM SURE I PROBABLY MISSED SOMETHING SO PLEASE TELL ME IN THE COMMENT SECTION IF I DID OR IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS REGARDING THE RECIPE! THANK YOU!


Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s