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Archive for August, 2008

Yes..yes…I know…I’m BACK! :) I do have to apologize for being MIA for SOOOOOOO long!! A big reason was because I was busy but another big part of the reason was because I’m such a procrastinator. Honestly, if it wasn’t because DB challenge due date is today, you probably wouldn’t hear from me for some time… :)

I haven’t exactly been sitting around doing nothing. A lot has happened in the last couple of weeks and I’ve got so much to tell. But the time’s not right yet so we’ll not steal the thunder from what’s important today….*drumroll please…*Daring Baker’s August Challenge – Chocolate Eclairs!! When I read about this month’s challenge, I was happy because this is the first challenge where I’ve actually done something similar a couple of months ago so it was nothing new to me! Woohoo! Finally, something of which I’ll know what it should look like!

Eclairs…hhmmm…all of them look alike…how to make mine special?! Looking back, when I was a kid, my favourite fast food joint was A&W. After having my all time favourite connie dog, I’ll bug dad for chocolate eclair ice cream from the ice cream bar. Hence, in my mind I’ve always thought chocolate eclair was an ice cream. Boy, was I surprised when I came overseas and found out that eclairs are actually pastries made from choux pastry and originated from France. They are usually piped into logs about three to four inches long, and baked. Once baked and cooled, eclairs can be filled with whipped cream, a variety of custards, mousses, or fruit. Traditional eclairs tend to be filled with whipped cream or custard and topped with chocolate ganache. Hhmmm…I know what I can do…why not make the eclairs into my childhood favourite…let’s take it one more step further..how about a classic banana split? :)

We had friends over for dinner tonight so I decided it was the ideal time to make these. Some of them brought ice cream over so everything was in place to make my special banana split! The recipe for this challenge was picked out by Tony Tahhan and MeetaK, and it is a recipe from Chocolate Desserts By Pierre Hermé . This recipe was a bit different from my previous attempt so I was interested to see what the difference was. Well, to be honest, taste wise they are relatively similar but I had problems when baking these eclairs. Maybe it’s my oven (cos mine’s one of those portable turbo ovens not your proper built in convection ovens), well I don’t know. Anyway, the first batch come out nice – golden and brown. So, I removed it from the oven and left them to cool in the living room. However, in just the brief 2 minutes I walked out of the room and back in again, the eclairs collapsed. I slit them into halves and found them uncooked on the inside. Darn! Well, in the end, I had to do it the way I did it previously – and that is when they are golden brown, remove them and slit them in half, then put them back into the oven and bake briefly till cook.

Anyway, the end result was good. I left them to cool and assembled them with fresh banana and strawberry slices. The ice cream used was the Chocolate Vienetta, which so happens to be one of my favourite :) . Topped with the chocolate sauce and glaze it was one messily, delicious banana split chocolate eclairs!

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
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.

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 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.

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 you 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:
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.

3) Fill other half of eclair with banana and strawberry slices, top with a slice of ice cream and drizzle some chocolate sauce over it. Cover the top layer and serve immediately.

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