Daring Bakers, August: Chocolate Éclairs by Pierre Hermé
At the beginning of the month, the designated DB host(s) assign a register to be worked on secretly by the growing ranks of Daring Bakers. At the end of the month, on an assigned day, the DBers reveal their projects on their blogs! This month's hosts, Tony Tahhan and MeetaK assigned Pierre Hermé's chocolate eclairs!
This shot makes me want to watch "Hunt for Red October."
This wasn't my first time with choux paste--that piped pastry dough that you bring together in a pot over heat then pipe onto sheets and bake so your forms puff up and dry out. In fact, one of my first baking projects when I first came to realize that cooking and baking could be enjoyable was cream puffs and eclairs.
I went on to make more in a couple of my baking classes. Observe my pate au chouxstriches:
Bless my patient chef-instructors whimsy-appreciating heart.
And at home the one and only time I made those stinky gougères, but we needn't speak of those. On to the project!
I try to be good and pipe my choux paste with enough room around each piece.
And so they have room to puff up (I piped two lines, one on top of each other, so they'd come apart, sorta like hot dog buns).
But then I get impatient waiting for sheets to cool and only baking a few pieces at a time, so I just plop as many out as I can fit on a sheet.
Because I know that, unless it's a runny cookie dough, I won't have many, if any, problems (yet).
I served them on a sushi platter. Four inches was just the right length! It made me realize how gargantuan a lot of bakeries make their eclairs these days--they remind me of long john donuts (maple bars, for your more refined types).
Sometimes, eclair glaze is a bit dull or stiff (see below); this is usually because it's allowed to cool too long, and it sets up into a frosting. If you dip them while the chocolate glaze is still warm and flowing, it will come out shiny.
When life hands you choux paste and some homemade honey vanilla frozen yogurt, make profiteroles. See the chocolate frosting. Yom.
In truth, as much as I want to love choux paste, I usually don't. The dough is usually pretty bland, and all too often, soggy from sitting around with its feeling's moisture seeping into the crust. If you're going to have things like eclairs, making them at home is, hands down, the best way to do it. You get the crisp shell that you're supposed to, the delicious pastry cream, which I do love, is fresh and cool, and you get the flavors and textures you should without sacrificing them to time spent in a display case. Try at the recipe, available at the hosts' blogs (way up top). I know for a fact that choux pastries also make for good shells for tuna and chicken salads and the like!
Check out the other Daring Bakers' blogs here!