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:
Eggless Mocha Pastry Cream:
Eggless Orange Cardamom Pastry Cream:
- 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.
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.