Tuesday, December 11, 2012

My Ultimate Chocolate Éclair Experience

My husband and I are chocoholic. Naturally, we have created a little chocoholic boy and together, we form one chocoholic family. I always want to create an ultimate chocolate éclairs experience for my chocoholic family and this recipe from the book, Sarabeth's Bakery: From My Hands to Yours seems to be the one that I'm after...

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.

ultimate chocolate eclair white chocolate cream
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.
ultimate chocolate eclair
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.

Chocolate Glaze

The chocolate that I used for this bake
1/4 cup heavy cream
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.

To assemble:

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.

Chocolate Sauce

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.

Happy Baking
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Please note that the linky tool for bake-along is no longer available.


  1. Oh god, am gonna dream about this eclair tonite,highly irresistible.

  2. Hi Zoe, your chocolate eclair look awesome & perfect!! Very well baked. Wish I can have 2 now for my breakfast with extra chocolate ,please! :)

    Have a lovely day ahead.

  3. Your eclairs are beautiful! With all of those chocolates, they must be amazing- They'd be perfect for this chocoholic! :)

  4. Oh my goodness....eclairs are one of my favorites... you made yours looking so perfectly done. And the chocolate sauce looking so yummy...yummy

  5. I love eclairs and cream puffs...like your white chocolate cream and the chocolate glaze...looks delicious.
    Have a great week Zoe!

  6. You've got me droooling over here, Zoe! I love how glossy your chocolate is and how light and puffed your pastry!!!

  7. WOW, those are perfect eclairs. Especially smothered in the chocolate sauce. Fantastic!

  8. Mmmm your chocolate eclairs look really delicious! Love the extra chocolate sauce part, wish I've thought of that when I ate my own eclairs!

  9. Zoe, I have 3 chocoholics' at home too, and your eclairs are so tempting!!

  10. Hi Zoe, Your choc eclairs looks great and sounds delicious with all the different chocolates! Thanks for picking this, I wanted to make this for so long! Just like yours, mine was gone in a flash! Hope Santa brings you a sackful of chocolates!! :)

  11. This is perfect chocolate eclair Zoe, I am in love with this perfect snack.

  12. Chocolate eclairs with chocolate dipping sauce!!! Definitely one for the chocoholics :D It sounds amazing! And yours look amazing too, even without the dipping sauce ;) I too am a chocoholic, except I think I'm the only one in my family.....

  13. Oh My God ! these are beauties...your clicks are super tempting..Awesome Zoe..;)
    Have a wonderful week ahead :)

  14. Your chocolate eclairs look amazing! Great for Christmas too.

  15. wow! this chocolate eclairs looks so tempting! Zoe, Merry Christmas and wishing you a Happy New Year!

  16. Hi Zoe, your chocolate eclairs are making me drool.
    Oh! Callebaut that is one of the really fine chocolate. We can't get good quality chocolate here:(

    Guess what? We are a chocoholic family too:D
    I will bake mine soon.

  17. im ver yhappy to bake these choc eclairs, they are very delicious and you even dip it in chocolates, now i can why you call yourself a chocoholic! btw, the choc chips that i used for my sauce looks like the one you're using here but of course, different grade :D

  18. Gorgeous photos, Zoe. I'm salivating! Love chocolate eclairs, but too lazy and scared to make them! Love your step by step photos, and the color coordination is beautiful - the black and white.

  19. Your presentation is very professional!Everyeone who watches this photo i m sure he needs to grab one :)!

  20. Oh Zoe, you are sending me into chocolate dizziness. This is gonna come in my dreams for sometime. Looks so decadent

  21. Zoe, your eclairs are simply awesome! I thinks I can easily down a few of those :)

  22. hi Zoe, my eclairs were gone in a flash too! Yours look delicious. This is a great theme for Bake Along.

  23. You just brought me to chocoholic heaven.
    Yum! Looks Perfect Zoe!

  24. OMG, you proved you're a chocoholic...! Thumbs up for these yummy choc eclairs! ;)

  25. Zoe , throw some of that Callebaut chocolate over here ?! Santa has been deaf so far ! lol .... Those éclairs look so pretty delicious ! Love the flakiness of your pastry !

  26. I love eaclairs and these look amazing!!

  27. These choc eclairs looks so perfect. Yum!

  28. What a lovely family!
    and i do believe Chocolate lovers definitely have sweeter and happier Babies.
    wish you have a chocoholic girl in your arms soon, hahaha:D

  29. Eclair chocolate is certainly like no other chocolate!!!!!

  30. I love the color of your eclair, very nice golden....very tempting with your chocolate dip...chocolate heaven indeed!

  31. 哇!真的很想吃一个,嘻嘻!

  32. Zoe, you are my hero. These eclairs look AMAZING and my daughter is behind me asking me why I never make eclairs. I told her that you're a baking pro and that I'm not :)
    Seriously, perfection girl!
    Ok, I'm slowly working on my post for the chocolate coconut pie from Martha. I should have it up by sometime tomorrow. Should I email you when it's up? It's so good, but so rich! I think you will like it being the chocoholic that you are.

  33. those look so airy and delicious! :)

  34. this sounds so sinful! but your pictures have me sold! the white chocolate oozing out and the reflective chocolate dip looks DELICIOUS!

  35. Now I would LOVE these lovely Eclairs with double glazing of the decadent chocolate sauce! I would even deep the whole Eclair in that chocolate sauce! LOL Ya, me & my sinful chocolate weakness! :D

  36. Score! I'm so glad these turned out so ultimate. I have never worked with that type of dough before. It DOES look like mashed potatoes. lol PS I think 30s IS the new 20s, so maybe I was glad to shake off being a teenager. ;)

  37. very well made done. it is so airy and perfect. Job well done.

  38. You would never guess that you'd never made eclairs before...these look great! :-)

  39. oh yes, you are a real chocoholic, Zoe!
    so good ur hubby and your boy are too!
    your chocolate eclair definitely made all of u went up to 7th heaven!