August 31, 2008

Chocolate Éclairs With Eggless Orange Cardamom and Mocha Pastry Creams: Daring Bakers Challenge August 2008

Its another Daring Bakers challenge and this time its something French. Our hosts this month, Meeta of What’s For Lunch, Honey? and Tony of Tony Tahhan set us to bake some chocolate éclairs from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé. Éclairs are made from baked choux pastry, filled with pastry cream and decorated on top with a chocolate glaze or ganache (I’m sure there are few of us who need this explanation). And for the first time since I joined the Daring Bakers, I really didn’t have any problems with the challenge. Everything turned out just right. I almost couldn’t believe it!
Another first for me. I know what chocolate éclairs are and have seen them decorating the shelves in many a bakery. But I have never eaten one before this challenge. As odd as this seems, I really don’t like cake or confectionery filled or decorated with cream or frosting/ icing and such sweet stuff. I have found the home-made versions of these quite nice, but even then I limit myself to small portions.




Before I proceed, I have to mention that my home computer succumbed to a viral infection and had to be taken to the doctor. Unfortunately for me, I hadn’t backed up my pictures so they’re all on my machine and I am posting only the two pictures I had put up at the Daring Bakers forum. The good news is that my computer has recovered and will be coming back home tomorrow and I shall add other pictures to this post then. If there is anyone out there who hasn’t backed up their pictures (I have backed up my posts and have learnt my lesson well), then this is the time to do so.
Update (1st September, 2008): My computer is back and I have updated this post with more pictures.

A printable version of the recipe can be found here.




My French Éclair Experience:

Éclairs consist of three elements- the Pate a Choux or Choux/ Cream Puff pastry, the pastry cream and a chocolate glaze. For this challenge, we were to follow the Choux pastry recipe but were allowed to get creative with the pastry cream and glaze/ ganache as we retained one chocolate element in either.

Cream Puff Dough:

After hearing that many fellow DBs felt their Choux pastry had an “eggy” taste, I reduced 1 egg. This was partially also because of health reasons and partially due to the fact that the éclairs would have no takers. The Choux pastry was easy to make. The only problem was with piping them out.



I really did not have any idea as to how much they would puff up so I ended up piping out rather mini-sized éclairs and some profiteroles as well. I have a table top convection oven so I baked the éclairs and profiteroles at 190C for 25 minutes straight (they needed this long to brown) and then made small slits on the side as soon as they came out of the oven, to release the steam.



They did puff up really well with a huge empty pocket in each. I was quite thrilled to see that they came out well. Unfortunately, it was in the middle of the monsoons here and humidity is pretty high, so the profiteroles started becoming soft after a while. Looks the weather here is never appropriate for the month’s challenge. Usually I battle with weepy buttercreams because of the warm tropical temperatures!




Chocolate Pastry Cream:

Since we were allowed to experiment here (and given the number of eggs that went into the Choux), I decided to try making eggless pastry creams. Being new to this, I searched the net for a good recipe but found only vegan versions, most of which used alternative ingredients not available here. So I came up with a recipe of my own. Nothing extraordinary, I just used the recipe provided and added some cornstarch and left out the eggs. I made a mocha version and an orange version.




Eggless Mocha Pastry Cream:


Ingredients:

1 cup + 3 tbsp milk

3 tbsp sugar

3 tbsp cornstarch

½ cup chopped up bittersweet chocolate

1 ½ tbsp salted butter

3 tsp instant coffee powder dissolved in 2 tsp milk


Eggless Orange Cardamom Pastry Cream:


Ingredients:

1 cup + 3 tbsp milk

3 tbsp sugar

3 tbsp cornstarch

½ cup chopped up white chocolate

1 ½ tbsp salted butter

3 tsp orange rind

1tsp orange essence

½ tsp powdered cardamom


Method:

In the case of both the pastry creams, melt the chocolate and butter in a pan over hot water. In another pan, dissolve the sugar in the milk (and coffee for the mocha version) and bring to boil. Take the milk mixture off the heat. Add the melted chocolate and the corn starch dissolved in 3 tbsp of milk. Whisk well till everything is blended. Add the remaining ingredients and put back on the stove and keep whisking till the pastry cream thickens. Cool and refrigerate till needed. This pastry cream pipes well.

Chocolate Glaze:

I used the recipe given, with the chocolate sauce, but halved the quantity and used 25% fat cream instead of heavy cream which is not available here.

Assembling the éclairs:

No problems here, just followed the instructions. It was when I was piping the pastry cream into the éclairs that I realized that the cavities inside them can hold a whole lot of pastry cream!




I used a chocolate glaze for the orange cardamom pastry cream filled ones and a white chocolate glaze for those filled with mocha pastry cream. I just lightly dusted the filled profiteroles with powdered sugar. You can see my profiteroles have become a bit soft due to the humidity.

Verdict:

Ok, so I can make a good Choux pastry now, and without getting the “Choux on my shoes” as Alton Brown would say! I also have a recipe for Eggless Pastry cream now. Not bad, I guess.

Despite reducing one egg, we still got an “eggy” taste and smell from the éclairs, though the”eggy” taste did diminish a bit after filling the éclairs. So I don’t think I would make these, unless I can find an eggless recipe or one that uses maybe 1 egg, but I guess then it wouldn’t be quite a Choux pastry.

Personally, even then, I’m not sure I would be able to manage the amount of pastry cream that goes into each even with the temptation of the chocolate. But I’m sure my husband and daughter would definitely be ready to try the eggless version. I’m going to be checking the eggless versions that our alternative/ vegan Daring Bakers would have come up with.

I have to thank Meeta and Tony for expanding my baking repertoire with this challenge; after all, I am a Choux Pastry maker now! Do step across to my fellow Daring Bakers blogs to see some very creatively presented Eclairs and keep watching for what we’re going to be baking next month. See you all then.


51 comments:

breadchick said...

What an excellent way to adapt the pastry cream!

jayasree said...

Great work done. Liked the eggless pastry creams.

Cynthia said...

i had the egg issue too and left out a whole egg myself. an eggless pastry cream might make it just that little bit healthier too. lol. nice choux puffs! :)

Rachel said...

I know by now that cardamom is your fav spice!!!

Love your eggless pastry cream recipes....Awaiting more pics too

Dhanggit said...

Oh my your eclairs are beautiful!!im in love!! what a great job for this month's challenge

JZ @ Tasty treats said...

your eclairs look wonderful, aparna!! and the orange cardamom pastry cream sounds deeelicious! :-)

Ann said...

Love the sound of your flavor choices and combinations! Wasn't this a fun challenge?

Natalie... said...

I agree your eclairs look delicious!
Hope your computer is better once it gets back hehe :D

Passionate About Baking said...

Looks really good Aparna. Loved the eggless pastry cream ideas. I just piped in a rather runny chantilly cream; but thankfully my choux didnt smell eggy at all!! YUM!!

Mike of Mike's Table said...

Those look delicious! I love the flavors you chose for the filling, too--that orange/cardamom sounds like a great one!

Cristine said...

Great eclairs!

kellypea said...

Congrats on your great success and even more congrats that your computer survived the virus. Scary! I've lost my library of photos before and it's very depressing. Your eggless cremes sound delicious and perfect for these eclairs. Cardamom is such a lovely flavor...

Audax Atifex said...

What a great idea cardamom and orange. I'm giving these a try. I love this combination. So left field but O so right in my tum tum with yum yum.

Beth said...

I've had great luck recrisping pate a choux in the oven. If you choose to make it again, and it gets a little squishy, try heating them for a few minutes at 350 to evaporate some of the moisture. This also works with prebaked, frozen shells. If you like fruit curds, try filling your shells with that instead of a cream.

coco said...

Beautiful eclairs, Aparna!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

What wonderful flavors! Your Eclairs look scrumptious! Great job!

Cheers,

Rosa

Ivy said...

Great job Aparna. You make it sound so easy. I tried to make them once but had a little problem with the dough, although they tasted great they lacked appearance. I am definitely going to try them again after reading so many recipes today.

aisha said...

Wow, great going Aparna! I wish I had thought to make an eggless pastry cream too!

Cheryl said...

you had me at orange cardamon cream. what a combo! looks lovely.

Ranee said...

I'm so sorry your computer got sick! We lost three years of photos of our children when our old computer died.

Anyway, your eclairs look nice. I thought the choux was eggy, too, I would have reduced it by two whole eggs and used two egg whites in their place.

Bharti said...

Lovely eclairs! I wish I could just bite in to one right now!

Jacque said...

Oh, I'm so sorry about your computer. I'm glad to hear it's back and well.

Your puffs look delish!

Vera said...

Aparna, I'm sorry to here about your computer. But even these photos show that your éclairs turned out great. And I guess, we both like coffee and chocolate combo :)

farida said...

Aparna, I loved your eclairs! So puffy! This was such a fun challenge!

morgana said...

Mmmmm. Great looking éclaires. And thanks for all those egg free recipes, they can be so useful as delicious... (orange, cardamom.. I want to taste this!)

Dershana said...

Aparna, i love choclate eclairs and thank you for sharing your recipe :-)

do saunter by my turf sometime

http://thefootloosechef.blogspot.com/

Cristine said...

Beautiful eclairs! Great work!

Meeta said...

well i am glad you tried these. and having choux in your repertoire is always handy!

Aran said...

wow.... i'm intrigued by the eggless cream now. they look wonderful!

Baking Soda said...

Look at that luscious creams! Gotta love the orange (oh ánd the mocha...) Have to try them both!

Clumbsy Cookie said...

I'm glad I cam on day 2 and could see all the pictures! They're just perfect! I loved your egg-less pastry creams, they have a gread creamy texture! Wonderful flavours as well!

Tartelette said...

Orange and cardamom? Yum! Glad the computer recovered and so thrilled to see scuh cute eclairs! Well done!

Pearlsofeast said...

Hey Aparna, My god it is terrific, the orange cream is mouthwatering.Simply outstanding.Great Baker!

Nidhi said...

Great job Aparna, as usual;). It was truly fun making it but both of us know it...........this is not we'd bake for ourselves;).

sunita said...

Beautiful!Love your pastry creams :-) I managed to post today, and unlike you, we did love it a lot ;-)

Shellyfish said...

These look just beautiful(as usual) Aparna!

Eat4Fun said...

You eclairs puffed beautifully! I'm jealous. lol :-)
The orange filling look delicious.
I agree about the eggy smell and taste. I've seen recipes where whole+whites are used.
Great looking photos too! :-)

Rosie said...

Your eclairs look delicious!!

Rosie x

Shirley said...

Your pastry creams look beautiful and sound delicious!

Dragon said...

Your pastry creams are amazing. I just love their colour. Well done!

A_and_N said...

Your eclairs look heavely. I'd do anything to eat one NOW.

Jude said...

Excellent results. Your results are so impressive.

pixie said...

wow, your eggless pastry cream looks so scrumptuous i didn;t even care about the eclair! I just wanted to lick it off the page! great job!

pixie said...

wow, your eggless pastry cream looks so scrumptuous i didn;t even care about the eclair! I just wanted to lick it off the page! great job!

Y said...

Glad you managed to get your computer fixed! That orange cardamom pastry cream looks very very good!

Natashya said...

I am glad your computer is feeling better.
Your eclairs look great, good browning on the pastry. I love your filling choices, I found the double chocolate really chocolatey, mocha would have been nice.
Great work, Aparna!

BitterSweet said...

Your eclairs came out beautifully! That orange-cardamom pastry cream in particular sounds delicious. :)

Divya Vikram said...

Just Gorgeous!

Susan/Wild Yeast said...

Your shells are perfection and I love the sound of the orange cardamom!

Rajani said...

aparna these look amazing, and am sure must be tasting great as well! i've been toying with the idea of trying out choux pastry myself, looking at your exciting pictures and recipe i think i will stop procrastinating.

Molly Loves Paris said...

Well done! Your eclairs look terrific. Isn't it funny about the weather. Even in my mild climate it was almost 100 degrees when I made the Danish. To be professional one needs a climate controlled kitchen, which I certainly don't have.