Sunday, August 31, 2008

The best daring bakers cook-off yet

Wooohoo. Check this out.

I can make choux buns. These were supposed to be chocolate eclairs. I'd bought an icing kit specially - but then lost it. So I made buns instead. For one day, Recaro and I lived in profiterole heaven. I made thirty of these bad boys and - as ever with a daring baker challenge - had to give half away. This time to my sister in law who had her son, DIL and two grandchildren visiting.

These turned out to taste every bit as perfect as they look. Maybe it's beginners' luck, but I think choux pastry isn't scarey after all. If you aren't a daring baker, I dare you to give this a try - it's well worth it.

By the way, I filled these with whipped double cream - other daring bakers made flavoured pastry cream. I didn't need those extra flavours to make this a heavenly dessert.

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

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.

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.

To bake;
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.

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 and in the meantime fill the
bottoms with whipped cream.

3) Pipe or spoon the cream into the bottoms of the éclairs. Make sure you fill the bottoms
with enough cream to mound above the pastry. Place the glazed tops onto the cream
and wriggle gently to settle them.

1) If you have chilled your chocolate glaze, reheat by placing it in a bowl over simmering water,
stirring it gently with a wooden spoon. Do not stir too vigorously as you do not want to create

2) The éclairs should be served as soon as they have been filled.

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.

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.

1) You can make this sauce ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator for two weeks. Reheat the sauce in a microwave oven or a double boiler before using.
2) This sauce is also great for cakes, ice-cream and tarts.


Rebecca said...

Those look delicious! I'd have to give half away, too, or wake up with them on my butt. ;)

gigi said...

Oh... I am so impressed that you made these! They look great! I'm glad that you weren't scared. Th recipe does look easy, you've inspired me to try some one day. You go girl!

Lisa Michelle said...

Mmm..yummy profiteroles. Decadent and pretty!

Anne said...

They look amazing! :) Very nice job!

ARLENE said...

I actually prefer cream puffs to eclairs. They're so perfect for popping in your mouth all at once. Cuts down on the spills!

Lisa Michelle said...

I forgot to add, LOL@ the buttered pig comment. Trust me, making a good pate a choux IS easy. I think the milk and too many eggs in PH's recipe have something to do with the problems some encountered with the shells.

Amanda said...

Looks tastey!! The only problem with those is that I would want to pop them all in my mouth. Good job staying on the SLFP and giving some away.

Working mum said...

They look fab!!! Although, I would have had to have had more chocolate sauce.

(How many haves and hads can you put in one sentence?)

Listening for whispers said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Dragon said...

You did a great job with these. I love the first photo. YUM!

Casdok said...

Very impressive!! :)

Reluctant Housewife said...

Those look great. You're amazing. Is there anything you can't do? ;)

MamaGeek said...

Holy CRAP do they look divine, I can practically licked my monitor!

imbeingheldhostage said...

you are my hero. YUM! I can quit sending the hubby out to Tesco's late at night and just make my own.

scrappysue said...

hey, they look like bought ones!!! awesome!