This month the Daring Baker’s Challenge was a blast. French chocolate éclairs! Now, honestly, I never ever would’ve made these on my own. Well, maybe, if I’d gotten a request and been bugged and harrassed I may have looked into éclair recipes and tried it. But I never would have thought of it myself. Mainly because… *hangs head* I do not like éclairs. I loved these, but I probably wouldn’t eat any but my own.
(By the way, if you aren’t familiar with the Daring Baker’s and their monthly challenges; go here and read about it!)
So anyhoo… the recipe is from this book by the famous Dorie Greenspan. Dorie is worshipped all over the web in foodie blogs but I haven’t made anything of hers or anything from her books yet. Like I’ve mentioned before- I am far from a professional baker or chef, so my repertoire isn’t very large and I am most certainly not a connoisseur of French pastry. So by doing this challenge (and all the upcoming Daring Baker’s challenges, I hope) I’ll push myself into a new world of food. Admittedly, I also love an excuse to use accented letters like the ‘é’ in éclair, and also to throw around French words, pretend I studied at Le Cordon Bleu and be oh-so-chic. *ahem*
Éclairs consist of 3 elements:
- Pâte à Choux, also known as Choux Pastry or Cream Puff Dough
- Pastry Cream
- Chocolate glaze
For the challenge we were presented with chocolate pastry cream for the filling and chocolate glaze, however we were given free reign with changing ONE element as long as we left one chocolate component. I chose to make a traditional éclair and leave the glaze chocolate, just changing the cream to vanilla. The whole point was the motto: ‘Culinary liberty for all.’ So the freedom of altering the recipe was there. And again, the Daring Baker’s Challenge is awesome and you don’t need a blog to be a member!! So join! It’ll open you up to a whole new world baking-wise and you’ll be glad. You’ll probably gain like 50 pounds, haha, but its worth it. I recently (well, since last year at this time) lost 45 pounds so I’m trying to be good and not devour ALL of these eclairs at once!
It took me roughly 3 hours, start to finish. I did it all in one night, which wasn’t necessary but once I got started I was on a roll! It was actually much easier than I expected… and much tastier.
I piped out my filling using a smaller pastry bag and a smaller tip, but you can also spread it on with a metal icing spatula. I just thought it looked better piped on… I also would’ve piped the dough out using a large star tip just to make it fancier, but I followed the recipe’s instructions to use a round one. Next time! You also definitely need a candy thermometer for this one, which you should have anyway. After I got mine I realized how ridiculous it was that I didn’t have one. As far as the bittersweet chocolate goes, I did not use Valrhona Guanaja (as you will see if you continue reading) but used Ghirardelli instead. Mainly because they did not sell Valrhona Guanaja at my supermarket and I am way too lazy to order things off the internet or go searching for them. Heh. Especially since I like instant gratification, and when I want to make something, I don’t want to wait a week to get the one ingredient I lack. Typical American, right? “I want it, and I want it NOW!” I’m sure it would’ve been much more French if I’d used that Valrhona, but more delicious? I highly doubt it.
Mine, I should also mention, are mini-eclairs. The DB’s said nothing about altering the size so I took a chance. I got maybe 30 by doing it this way.. the recipe states you’d get 20-24 so I guess I didn’t make them THAT much smaller. But just a bit. I got my vanilla pastry cream recipe from a French website, or rather a website about French food. I figured they must know what they’re talking about, right?
I’m going to post the full recipe behind the ‘continue reading’ link under the picture below so as not to clog up the page, seeing how its quite long, but I suggest you take a peek because there are more pictures hidden in there! But I highly recommend this recipe to ALL of you, and I’m letting you know it is not imperative you listen to Edith Piaf, or any French singer or song thats performed in French, while making these.. but I’m sure its more fun than not. I’m putting BOTH pastry cream recipes, both Pierre’s chocolate one and the vanilla one I used. Bon Appetit!