Sunday, August 31, 2008

Daring Bakers-August Challenge~Chocolate Eclairs

I was SO excited when the August Daring Bakers challenge was announced! CHOCOLATE ECLAIRS! Yay, no more buttercream frosting! I was going to forego the challenge this month, but decided to take on the challenge. Plus, pate choux and I have been friends ever since I had to make pate a choux without a recipe for my final exam in my baking course at KCC . And the recipe we followed this month was from Pierre Herme's Chocolate Desserts. Pierre Herme is the pastry chef famous for his french macarons!
Thanks to Tony Tahhan and MeetaK for hosting this month's challenge!

My pate a choux dough. The initial steps of pate a choux are the same steps as making aroux. Fat (butter) and flour are heated together.
Pierre Herme's baking technique. Preheat the oven to 375F. Bake two trays of the dough 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.
I first attempted Herme's method and my puffs came out a bit soggy and fell. Plus it made my kitchen a bit hotter because heat was escaping my oven since I had the door ajar with the wooden spoon.

My baking technique. I cranked up the heat to about 425F and baked the shells for ~10minutes for a nice brown crust to form, and then lowered the temperature to 375F and baked the shells for another 10 minutes to dry out the inside dough. I'd like to think this is why my pastried poofed up a bit more.
Mike's baking technique (he had never piped out pate a choux before, so he made cream puff-type eclairs). He baked his shells at 425F for 10 minutes and lowered the temperature to 375F for 12 minutes and then shut off the oven and left the shells in the remaining heat. After talking to C. on the phone, she told me she made a cardamom and lime filling, I racked my brain trying to think of an innovative filling for my eclairs. But nope, I just followed the chocolate pastry cream recipe given on the Daring Bakers forum.
It was difficult enough getting Mike to join me in this baking challenge. For some reason he thought the purpose of the challenge was to finish it as fast as possible. I had to remind him that I actually like to bake and I complete these challenges for fun. I think he didn't understand this concept. Here's a picture of my husband making the chocolate pastry cream.
A few hours later we had our completed chocolate eclairs. It was quite a messy process, but it was fun. For some reason our pastry cream did not thicken and we ended up filling the cream puffs with a liquid which resembled and tasted like melted chocolate ice cream. I wasn't working on the pastry cream, so I do not really know what happened to it. My guess is that it was overcooked and the proteins denatured and could not coagulate.
We ended up freezing the leftover "pastry cream" and making a quite tasty and indulgent chocolate ice cake.


chou said...

Yum! It's strange that your pastry cream didn't thicken considering the chocolate. Yet if cornstarch is cooked too long it can break down. I think. :)

Mcwhisky said...

Very cute puffs you have there! :)

Angela said...

Very cute éclairs!

Cornstarch is very temperamental stuff. If you stir it too much it can go watery and if it doesn't come to a full boil it won't thicken properly either.

Still, freezing the pastry cream was a great idea! Yum!

Rebecca said...

Sooooo jealous of the puffery. At least you found something delicious to do with all that chocolate. Mmmm.

Robyn said...

I'll have to try your second method of baking the shells, mine flattened, too! They look good even if the pastry cream didn't work out right.

MaryMary said...

Funny! Men do think lots of things are a race to to the finish. They look beautiful! Cheers.

HoneyB said...

That look in your hubbys eye...well, it looks like he can't wait!

Lori said...

Sounds fun that you guys got to bake together and the eclairs look like they turned out great!

maybelle's mom said...

I am surprised that your pastry cream didn't work, but they look delicious and the chocolate ice sounds fascinating.

Clumbsy Cookie said...

I once couldn't get my pastry cream to thicken and then realised that instead of corn flours I had used icing sugar, lol! Anyway they look great and the picture of your husband doing the cream is very cute!

Y said...

Your choux certainly look very nice and puffy!