Daring Bakers/August – Chocolate Éclairs by Pierre Hermé

by Jessica on August 31, 2008

This is what happens when you write your recipes in advance and set them to post while you’re sleeping… you forget to really write a post! 🙂 I was browsing other DB’ers blogs when I realized that I hadn’t written anything about the actual éclairs or what I thought about them! Forgive me… it’s been a long weekend.

As it was just me this weekend (again), I didn’t need to eat more than one (maybe two 🙂 ) éclairs… let alone 20-24!! So, instead of the long finger-like shapes, I made round, cream puff-like ones and had just enough to take to work on Friday morning (thus, eliminating any temptation by keeping them around the house!).

These were SO yummy, but I think after making both variations of pâte à choux, I prefer Dorie’s version (found in Baking – From My Home to Yours). For some reason, Pierre’s end result was a little crispier to me. Not bad at all, though!! I had fun making these and it didn’t take as long as I was expecting (which is always a good thing!).

Chosen by Meeta of What’s for lunch, Honey? and Tony Tahhan, I give you this month’s delicious Daring Bakers recipe…

Eclairs 3

Pierre Hermé’s Chocolate Éclairs
Source: Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé
Yields: 20-24 Éclairs

Cream Puff Dough
1/2 c whole milk
1/2 c water
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
1/4 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 c all-purpose flour
5 large eggs, room temperature

In a heavy bottomed medium saucepan, bring the milk, water, butter, sugar and salt to the boil. 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.

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. 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.

Chocolate Pastry Cream
2 c whole milk
4 large egg yolks
6 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp cornstarch, sifted
7 oz bittersweet chocolate, preferably Velrhona Guanaja, melted
2-1/2 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature

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. 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.

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. 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.

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.

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
1/3 c heavy cream
3-1/2 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
4 tsp unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces, at room temperature
7 tbsp Chocolate Sauce (recipe below), warm or at room temperature

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. 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 degrees F) when ready to glaze.

Chocolate Sauce
4-1/2 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 c water
1/2 c crème fraîche, or heavy cream
1/3 c sugar

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. 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.

Eclairs 2

Baking the cream puff dough:
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.

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 4-1/2 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.

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:
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.

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.

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.

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.


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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

1 BMK August 31, 2008 at 7:00 am

Wow! Those look delicious!


2 Heather B August 31, 2008 at 10:09 am

oh very nice! They look delicious!


3 Amy (Sing for your supper) August 31, 2008 at 10:29 am

Oooh – these will be delicious for breakfast on our “Fall weekend”! 😉


4 Jaime August 31, 2008 at 1:07 pm

what did you think of the recipe?
your cream puffs look great! i decided to make both eclairs and cream puffs 🙂


5 Mary Ann August 31, 2008 at 3:48 pm

Now I am wishing I had made the chocolate pastry cream because it looks so yummy in those little puffs! Great job!


6 Tanya August 31, 2008 at 4:56 pm

Great job on the challenge! The puffs look delicious!


7 spkr602 August 31, 2008 at 5:53 pm

Your puffs look wonderful!


8 Crafty Baker September 1, 2008 at 12:01 am

Your puffs look so crispy (something mine lacked). Great job!


9 Foodie Froggy September 1, 2008 at 3:01 am

They look really good ! I love your little choux.


10 Rosa September 2, 2008 at 4:08 am

Wonderful Cream Puffs! Delicious and very pretty!




11 Marija September 2, 2008 at 4:53 am

Great job! I love that you made chocolate choux pastry!


12 Amanda September 2, 2008 at 10:15 pm

I want to try Dorie’s recipe too. Everyone mentions that choux recipe and how good it turns out. It’s time to give it a go!


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