Last month, I was a bad girl and missed the challenge. But I was excited to get back in the game in August. Then I saw it was chocolate eclairs...yum! I thought it was going to be very hard...but this was actually the least time consuming challenge as of yet. It was fun and delicious!
My only issue was that I piped some of them a little small to make mini eclairs, but they didn't rise so much. A couple of the really small ones I tossed. Then I cut into a few and even though they looked done on top, they were a little raw in the middle. After about 10 minutes more in the oven (just to see if I could save them), they came out great! The ones that came out the best were my bigger ones (About 1.5 inches wide and 3.5 inches long). Make sure you don't take them out of the oven until they are very puffy.
Chocolate Éclairs by Pierre Hermé
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup water
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
5 eggs, room temp
1) Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. 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) In a heavy bottomed medium saucepan, bring the milk, water, butter, sugar and salt to the boil.
3) 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.
4) Transfer the dough into a bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or using your hand mixer. 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.
5) The dough should be still warm. It is now ready to be used for the éclairs.
6) Fill a large pastry bag fitted with a 2/3 (2 cm) plain tip nozzle with the warm cream puff dough. (I did not use this. I used a large ziploc bag and filled it with the Choux. Then I snipped a small piece of the bag off the bottom corner, so the choux would come out smoothly) Pipe the dough onto the baking sheets in long, 3.5 to 4 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.
7) 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 - 25 minutes.
Chocolate Pastry Cream
2 cups whole milk
4 large egg yolks
6 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp cornstarch
7 oz bittersweet chocolate chips, melted (I used Ghiardelli)
2 tbsp 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. Incorporate Chocolate. 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).
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.
Chocolate Glaze (My Own)
4.5 oz bittersweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 tsp vanilla
1) Over low heat in a small saucepan, combine the ingredients. When it looks about half way melted, remove from heat and continue stirring until completely smooth.
Assembling the éclairs:
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) Pipe or spoon the pastry cream into the bottoms of the éclairs (I used the ziploc bag trick again). Make sure you fill the bottoms with enough cream to mound above the pastry. Place the tops onto the pastry cream and wriggle gently to settle them.
3) The glaze should be barely warm to the touch. Spoon glaze on top of the assembled eclairs. Let set at room temp or fridge.