Cream Puffs

August 31, 2008 at 3:39 pm | Posted in Daring Bakers | 20 Comments
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My Chocolate Eclairs look like Cream Puffs, I know.  “And where’s the chocolate?”, you may be wondering.   It’s there, in a bowl on the side.

This months Daring Bakers challenge was hands-down my all time favorite.  I LOVED these!  Given the option of how to use the chocolate (in or out) I decided out and on the side.  Yes, I dipped one (or two) in the chocolate glaze.  I ate it (them).

But these didn’t need the chocolate.  They were perfect as is.  Lovely Pate a Choux (cream puff dough).  Vanilla bean pastry cream.  Lightly dusted with powdered sugar.

I began this challenge by making my cream puff dough, pipping it out into small circles and then freezing them.  I also made the chocolate sauce that was to be used in the chocolate glaze.

The next day I used my chocolate sauce to make my chocolate glaze.  I also made my vanilla bean pastry cream.

With everything ready, it was so easy to bake these, fill, and plate.

And they were so good.  I am counting the days until I can make these again.  Until then, I will be sitting here wishing that I had a few left overs.

My thanks to Tony and Meetak for the great Daring Bakers Challenge!

Vanilla Bean Pastry Cream (from The Secrets of Baking by Sherry Yard)

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar, divided
  • 1 vanilla bean split and scraped
  • 3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 large eggs, chilled
  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened

Bring the milk, 1/4 cup of the sugar, and the vanilla bean and seeds to a simmer in a medium nonreactive saucepan over medium heat.

Meanwhile, sift together the remaining 1/4 cup sugar, the flour, and salt.  Whisk the eggs in a large bowl.  Add the sifted dry ingredients to the eggs and whisk until fluffy.

When the milk comes to a simmer, remove from the heat and ladle out 1/2 cup of the hot milk and drizzle it slowly into the eggs while whisking.  Once the 1/2 cup milk is incorporated into the eggs, pour the mixture back into the hot milk, whisking constantly.  Be sure to scrape all the eggs into the pan with a rubber spatula.

Immediately begin to rapidly whisk the pastry cream.  In less than 1 minute, it will boil and begin to thicken.  Continue to whisk for about 3 minutes, or until it has the consistency of pudding.  To test the cream for doneness, tilt the saucepan to one side.  The cream should pull away from the pan completely.

Strain the pastry cream through a fine-mesh strainer.  Add the butter and stir until it is melted and incorporated.  If the cream seems grainy, pulse in a food processor until smooth.  The cream is now ready to use, or it can be cooled to room temp and refrigerated for up to 3 days.  To prevent a skin from forming as it cools, place a sheet of plastic film directly to the surface.

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:

• Chocolate glaze (see below for recipe)
• Chocolate pastry cream (see below for recipe)

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 the pastry cream.

3) Pipe or spoon the pastry 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 pastry cream
and wriggle gently to settle them.

Notes:
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
bubbles.

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

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 Pastry Cream
Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by PierreHermé

• 2 cups (500g) whole milk
• 4 large egg yolks
• 6 tbsp (75g) sugar
• 3 tablespoons cornstarch, sifted
• 7 oz (200g) bittersweet chocolate, preferably Velrhona Guanaja, melted
• 2½ tbsp (1¼ oz: 40g) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1) In a small saucepan, bring the milk to a boil.  In the meantime, combine the yolks, sugar and cornstarch together and whisk in a heavy‐bottomed saucepan.

2) Once the milk has reached a boil, temper the yolks by whisking a couple spoonfuls of the hot milk into the yolk mixture.Continue whisking and slowly pour the rest of the milk into the tempered yolk mixture.

3) Strain the mixture back into the saucepan to remove any egg that may have scrambled.  Place the pan over medium heat and whisk vigorously (without stop) until the mixture returns to a boil. Keep whisking vigorously for 1 to 2 more minutes (still over medium heat).Stir in the melted chocolate and then remove the pan from the heat.

4) Scrape the pastry cream into a small bowl and set it in an ice‐water bath to stop the cooking process. Make sure to continue stirring the mixture at this point so that it  remains smooth.

5) Once the cream has reached a temperature of 140 F remove from the ice‐water bath and stir in the butter in three or four installments. Return the cream to the ice‐water bath to continue cooling, stirring occasionally, until it has completely cooled. The cream is now ready to use or store in the fridge.

[bNotes:[/b]
1) The pastry cream can be made 2‐3 days in advance and stored in the refrigerator.

2) In order to avoid a skin forming on the pastry cream, cover with plastic wrap pressed onto the cream.

3) Tempering the eggs raises the temperature of the eggs slowly so that they do not scramble.

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.

Notes:
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.

20 Comments »

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  1. Your eclairs look awesome. I am loving the flecks of vanilla bean in your pudding!

  2. I must agree they look yummy, I never tried making choux pastry before I bought Pierre Herme “chocolate deserts”, I think this is the best recipe ever, stright forword and always gives prefect results.

  3. Wowie! What a treattt! Your baking is sooo beautiful!

  4. Ah, love some cream puffs. The vanilla cream puffs next to the chocolate sauce … oui.

  5. I love your little puffs! They are just perfect!

  6. I wish you had a few left over too! These were delicious, K! The photos don’t do the taste justice. Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing them at the party!

  7. Counting the days? Noone will know if you make another batch right now. They look fantastic. Good job.

  8. all I can say is OH MY!!!!!!

  9. Genius! Chocolate dipping sauce, that’s heaven🙂

    Great Job!

  10. Yummy – love the vanilla flecks!

  11. they look great! thanks for giving these a go!

  12. they look lovely! i particularly enjoy the specks of vanilla bean in the filling. meanwhile, i’d be likely to take that bowl of chocolate and just eat it with a spoon.🙂

  13. These were wonderful. Loved them, and I don’t even normally care for eclairs! You did a perfect job! Great photos🙂

  14. They’re gorgeous! I love the way yours look. I think I could dive into a bowl of that pastry cream and be a happy girl.

  15. I made vanilla bean custard too. I’ll be posting soon. I was out of town. I love how you made the dough and froze them. Makes for a quick and easy dessert when you can make stuff ahead of time. Good tip!!!

  16. Awesome! Those look so yummy. I wish I could’ve done this challenge, especially after you said it was your favorite! I’m definitely going to make these sometime, even if it’s late. My favorite picture is the 6th one you posted. Something about it really catches my eye!

  17. These look wonderful. I’m very impressed!!

  18. They are just beautiful, light and delicate. Very nice.

  19. Yours look so perfect – and make me want to go home and do some baking!

  20. oh! my mouth is watering! LOVE fresh creampuffs! If I’m feeling adventurous, I’ll have to try out your recipe. Thanks!


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