Saturday, September 23, 2006

Chocolate Eclairs

Chocolate Eclairs
from: Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé.

The Éclairs consist of three parts, the dough, the pastry cream and a chocolate glaze

Pastry Dough:

• ½ cup whole milk
• ½ cup water
• 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter,
cut into 8 pieces
• ¼ teaspoon sugar
• ¼ teaspoon salt
• 1 cup 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 a 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. The bottom of the pan may develop a slight crust, this is normal. You need to just continue 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 hand mixer or if you've had enough coffee, continue by hand. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each egg has been added to incorporate it into the dough. As you add the first egg you may notice the dough separates. This is normal, by the time you add the rest of the eggs and mix well 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.

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.

Baking the Éclairs

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 4-1/2 inches "fat fingers" Leave a couple of inches of space in between each dough strip to allow them room to puff.

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.

If you wish to wait a bit to fill, they will keep for several hours in a cool, dry place.

Crème Pâtissière - Vanilla Bean Pastry Cream
(Adapted from The Cambridge School of Culinary Arts)
1 3/4 cup Half and Half
1 tsp Vanilla
1/2 of a Vanilla Bean
4 Egg Yolks, large
1/2 cup Sugar
1/3 cup Flour
Pinch of Salt

1. Heat half-and-half in a medium saucepan until warm. Set aside.

2. Using a mixer or by hand, ribbon egg yolks and sugar until very thick and pale yellow and there is no presence of sugar granules. Stir in flour and the salt. Very gradually add warm half-and-half to yolk mixture stirring with a whisk or using your mixer.

3. Transfer mixture to a saucepan and add the inside of half of a vanilla bean. Cook over medium-low heat stirring continuously with a wooden spoon. When mixture begins to bubble (must boil) continue stirring for 1-2 minutes (lower heat if necessary).

4. Remove from heat, add vanilla extract and strain into a bowl. Refrigerate. Makes 2 1/2 cups.


This can be made in advance and kept in the fridge for two or three days.

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

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

Chocolate Glaze

(The Cambridge School of Culinary Arts)

* 8 ounces Callebaut semi-sweet chocolate chopped.
* 2 teaspoons vegetable shortening
* 2 Tablespoons corn syrup

In a double boiler, melt chocolate. Remove from heat. Add vegetable shortening and corn syrup. Stir. Let cool to desired consistency. This will keep in the fridge for up to two weeks. You can reheat for application in a microwave or with a double broiler. It does work best if you glaze right away though.

Assembling the éclairs:
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.

The éclairs should be served as soon as they have been filled. (like that is going to be a problem)


  1. Sam said, "Tell Brigid I said, 'thank you, ma'am. You're the best!'"

  2. ....and the researchers ran out of testing materials....and napkins.

  3. On a side note Brigid - I love that picture with the boy and the bird - "Where'd that bird go?" Where's that human?" - Classic.


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