Prior to this bake, I have never bake chocolate éclairs before. I really want to set myself up for this attempt and so I'm suggesting the theme, "chocolate éclairs" to my two baking buddies, Joyce from Kitchen Flavours and Lena, from Frozen wings for this bake-along.
And so, here I am proudly present my ultimate chocolate éclairs with four major components:
First is the pâte à choux. Pâte à choux in French can be translated as "cabbage pastry", but its real meaning has nothing to do with vegetables and usually refers as pastry that is light and hollow to hold various kind of fillings. This choux pastry that I'm using to make my éclairs is slightly difference from the one that I baked for my cream puffs as this recipe contains milk but the previous one doesn't.
Second is the white chocolate cream filling. I was disappointed at first that the Sarabeth's white chocolate cream recipe didn't work well for me. The cream that I made according to this recipe did hold its shape very well but curd very badly. And so, I have improvised the recipe to make the white chocolate filling according to my way. I wouldn't refer my improvised version as "white chocolate cream" as it is not firm enough to form pip-able shape but it sets well only after it is very well chilled.
Third is the dark chocolate glaze. Nothing complete a chocolate éclair with a nice and smooth dark chocolate glaze. I notice that Sarabeth likes to incorporate coffee into lots of her chocolate bakes, ganaches and glazes including the chocolate glaze for this éclairs recipe. As my son and I can't really consume coffee due to its caffeine content and so I have substituted all the coffee ingredients in this bake with just water. In the near future, we may wish to try baking with decaffeinated coffee...
For my most ultimate experience, the fourth ingredient is a dark chocolate dipping sauce! Since this experience, it has became an essential for us to eat with our chocolate éclairs. And this is what we did... just dunk an éclair into this dark chocolate sauce and enjoy the combination of all four different chocolates in one bite! Yum!
My chocoholic son was excited seeing these mini chocolate éclairs and not surprisingly at all, everything is gone in a flash.
|My chocolate éclairs|
|Making the choux pastry|
|Piping and baking them|
|Making the white chocolate filling|
|Making the chocolate glaze|
|Filling the pastries|
|My chocolate éclair with white chocolate cream and dark chocolate glaze|
|What's more? ... I'm making dark chocolate sauce for my éclair dipping.|
|Here's my ultimate chocolate éclair experience, dunk an éclair into dark chocolate sauce...|
|and eat it...|
Here are the recipes from the book, Sarabeth's Bakery: From My Hands to Yours.
(with my notes and modifications in blue)
Pâte à Choux
Make 12 large éclairs
1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp whole milk
1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp water
7 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 tsp granulated sugar
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
4 large eggs, at room temperature, beaten
Combine the milk, water, butter, sugar, and salt in a heavy-bottomed medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring often with a wooden spoon to help dissolve the butter. The butter must be completely melted by the time the liquid boils, so adjust the heat as needed.
Immediately dump all of the flour at once into the saucepan. Using the wooden spoon, willfully and briskly stir to make the mixture come together into a thick paste. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Continue stirring the dough for at least 1 min until it resembles a blob of mashed potatoes. A thin film will form on the bottom of the pan and adjust the heat as needed to keep it from scorching.
Transfer the hot dough to the bowl of a heavy-duty stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on low speed for 30 sec to slightly cool the dough and force out more steam. Increase the speed to medium. A tablespoon or two at a time, add the beaten eggs, letting each addition absorb into the dough before adding more. With each addition, the dough will break up, and then some together with beating. When all of the eggs have been added, increase the speed to high and beat until the dough has a sheen, about 15 secs. The dough will be warm, elastic, and very sticky. Use the dough immediately, because cooled dough will not puff to its full expansion. It is usually transferred to a pastry bag and piped for the most uniform shapes.
Position racks in the center and top third of the oven and preheat, to 400°F. Line two half-sheet pans with parchment paper.
Fit a large (at least 14 inches) pastry bag with an 11/16-inch-diameter plain pastry tip, such as Ateco #809 (I used Wilton 1A tip). Fill the bag with the freshly made warm pate a choux dough. Pipe twelve 5-inch-long strips of dough on the two pans, spacing them at least 2 inches apart. Exert a good amount of pressure on the bag of dough so the strips are wide and thick. Smooth any pointed tips of dough with a finger dipped in water.
Bake until crisp and golden brown, 25 min. Do not underbake, or the eclairs will fall when they come out of the oven. Remove from the oven. Using a small paring knife, pierce a small slit, into the crease on the side of each éclair. Return the éclairs to the oven and continue baking until a bit more crisp and golden brown, about 10 min. Don't let them burn, of course, but don't be afraid to get them good and crisp. Turn off the oven and prop the door open with a wooden spoon. Let the éclairs cool completely in the oven.
Note: Using half of the recipe, I made 14 mini éclair pastries and baked them at 15 min first at 190°C fan forced, pierce them and baked them for another 5 min.
White Chocolate Cream
1 1/2 cups heavy cream, divided
6 ounces white chocolate, finely chopped
To make the white chocolate cream, heat 1/2 cup of the cream in a small saucepan over medium heat until simmering. Remove from the heat. Add the white chocolate and let stand until softened, about 3 mins. Whisk until smooth. Let cool until tepid.
Whip the remaining 1 cup cream in the chilled bowl of a heavy-duty stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment on medium-high speed just until soft peaks form. Add the cooled white chocolate mixture and whip until the cream holds its shape. Remove from the bowl. If you would like it a bit stiffer, whisk by hand with a balloon whisk. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Note: Using this method, my white chocolate cream had curd very badly. To improvise, I used the same ingredients from half of the recipe to my own white chocolate filling. All the cream was simmered and added to the white chocolate. The chocolate mixture was stirred until smooth and chilled for about 2 hr to firm up slightly.
|The chocolate that I used for this bake|
1 tbsp granulated sugar
1 tsp instant espresso powder dissolved in 2 tsp boiling water (I didn’t add this)
1 tbsp water
4 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate (no more than 62% cocoa), finely chopped (the chocolate that I used is 58% cocoa)
1 tbsp light corn syrup
To make the glaze, bring the cream, sugar, dissolved espresso (I didn’t add this), and water to a simmer in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Remove from the heat. Add the chocolate and let stand until softened, about 3 min. Add the corn syrup and whisk until smooth. Pour into a bowl large enough to fit an éclair. Use the glaze while it is still warm.
Note: Using half of the recipe, I have made enough glaze to top 14 mini éclairs.
Using a serrated knife, cut each éclair in half lengthwise. Remove any stringy, uncooked dough from the inside of each éclair to make a crisp pastry shell. Set the top and bottom of each éclair side by side on a half-sheet pan to keep each pair together. One at a time, hold the top half of each éclair, cut, side up, and dip into the glaze to coat the exterior. Let any excess glaze drip back into the bowl. Place, glazed side up, next to its matching bottom half. Repeat, with the remaining éclairs.
Transfer the whipped white chocolate cream to a pastry bag fitted with a 7/16-inch-diameter open-star tip, such as Ateco #825. Pipe swirls of the cream onto the top surface of the bottom shells (I didn't pipe my filling into my pastries and spread it using a spatula). Place the top glazed halves on their matching bottom halves. Refrigerate until the glaze sets, about 15 min.
Makes about 1 cup
1/2 cup brewed coffee (not French or Italian roast) (replaced with boiling water)
2 tbsp water
1 tbsp superfine sugar
6 ounce semisweet or bittersweet chocolate (no more than 62 percent cacoa), coarsely chopped (the chocolate that I used is 58% cocoa)
1 tbsp heavy cream
1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
Combine the coffee (I didn’t add this), water, and sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove the saucepan from the heat. Add the chocolate and let stand until the chocolate softens, about 3 min. Whisk until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Whisk in the cream and vanilla.
Transfer the sauce to a bowl. Let it sit until slightly thickened; it should be thick enough to nicely coat a wooden spoon. If it thickens too much, thin it with more brewed coffee as needed (I didn't have to do that).
Note: Using 1/3 of the recipe, I have made enough sauce to dip the mini éclairs.
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