Sunday, August 31, 2008

August Daring Baker Challenge ~ Chocolate Eclairs

The August Daring Baker Challenge was hosted by Tony Tahhan ,at his blog by the same name, and MeetaK, at the What's For Lunch, Honey?, blog.

The challenge was Chocolate Éclairs by Pierre Hermé, from the cookbook written by Dorie Greenspan called: Chocolate Desserts By Pierre Hermé.

The recipe is supposed to make 20 - 24 eclairs, but since I wanted to bring them to my nephew's block party for dessert and wanted to make sure there would be enough for all his guests, I made mine mini in size and made about 60 from this recipe. They were bite sized, about the size of a finger.

Here is the recipe:

Pierre Hermé’s Chocolate ÉclairsRecipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé

(makes 20-24 Éclairs)

• Cream Puff Dough (see below for recipe), fresh and still warm

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 41/2 inches (about 11 cm) chubby fingers.Leave about 2 inches (5 cm) space in between each dough strip to allow them room to puff.The dough should give you enough to pipe 20-24 éclairs.

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.


1) The éclairs can be kept in a cool, dry place for several hours before filling.

Assembling the éclairs:

• Chocolate glaze (see below for recipe)

• Chocolate pastry cream (see below for recipe)

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 – 40degrees 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.


1) If you have chilled your chocolate glaze, reheat by placing it in a bowl over simmering water,stirring it gently with a wooden spoon. Do not stir too vigorously as you do not want to create bubbles.

2) The éclairs should be served as soon as they have been filled.

Pierre Hermé’s Cream Puff Dough Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé

(makes 20-24 Éclairs)

• ½ cup (125g) whole milk

• ½ cup (125g) water

• 1 stick (4 ounces; 115g) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces

• ¼ teaspoon sugar• ¼ teaspoon salt

• 1 cup (140g) all-purpose flour

• 5 large eggs, at room temperature1)

In a heavy bottomed medium saucepan, bring the milk, water, butter, sugar and salt to theboil.

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. Do not worry if a slight crust forms at the bottom of the pan, it’s supposed to. You need to carry on 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 still have the energy, continue by hand. Add the eggs one at a time,beating after each egg has been added to incorporate it into the dough. You will notice that after you have added the first egg, the dough will separate, once again do not worry. As you keep working the dough, it will come back all together again by the time you have added the third egg. In the end 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 as directed above.


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.

Chocolate Pastry Cream Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé

• 2 cups (500g) whole milk

• 4 large egg yolks

• 6 tbsp (75g) sugar

• 3 tablespoons cornstarch, sifted

• 7 oz (200g) bittersweet chocolate, preferably Velrhona Guanaja, melted

• 2½ tbsp (1¼ oz: 40g) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1) In a small saucepan, bring the milk to a boil. In the meantime, combine the yolks, sugar and cornstarch together and whisk in a heavy‐bottomed saucepan.

2) Once the milk has reached a boil, temper the yolks by whisking a couple spoonfuls of the hot milk into the yolk mixture.Continue whisking and slowly pour the rest of the milk into the tempered yolk mixture.

3) Strain the mixture back into the saucepan to remove any egg that may have scrambled. Place the pan over medium heat and whisk vigorously (without stop) until the mixture returns to a boil. Keep whisking vigorously for 1 to 2 more minutes (still over medium heat). Stir in the melted chocolate and then remove the pan from the heat.

4) Scrape the pastry cream into a small bowl and set it in an ice‐water bath to stop the cooking process. Make sure to continue stirring the mixture at this point so that it remains smooth.

5) Once the cream has reached a temperature of 140 F remove from the ice‐water bath and stir in the butter in three or four installments. Return the cream to the ice‐water bath to continue cooling, stirring occasionally, until it has completely cooled. The cream is now ready to use or store in the fridge.


1) The pastry cream can be made 2‐3 days in advance and stored in the refrigerator.

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

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

Chocolate Glaze Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé (makes 1 cup or 300g)

• 1/3 cup (80g) heavy cream

• 3½ oz (100g) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

• 4 tsp (20 g) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces, at room temperature

• 7 tbsp (110 g) Chocolate Sauce (recipe below), warm or at room temperature 1)In a small saucepan, bring the heavy cream to a boil. Remove from the heat and slowly begin to add the chocolate, stirring with a wooden spoon or spatula.

2) Stirring gently, stir in the butter, piece by piece followed by the chocolate sauce.


1) If the chocolate glaze is too cool (i.e. not liquid enough) you may heat it briefly in the microwave or over a double boiler. A double boiler is basically a bowl sitting over (not touching) simmering water.

2) It is best to glaze the eclairs after the glaze is made, but if you are pressed for time, you can make the glaze a couple days ahead of time, store it in the fridge and bring it up to the proper temperature (95 to 104 F) when ready to glaze.

Chocolate Sauce Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé

(makes 1½ cups or 525 g)• 4½ oz (130 g) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

• 1 cup (250 g) water• ½ cup (125 g) crème fraîche, or heavy cream

• 1/3 cup (70 g) sugar

1) Place all the ingredients into a heavy‐bottomed saucepan and bring to a boil, making sure to stir constantly. Then reduce the heat to low and continue stirring with a wooden spoon until the sauce thickens.

2) It may take 10‐15 minutes for the sauce to thicken, but you will know when it is done when it coats the back of your spoon.


1) You can make this sauce ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator for two weeks. Reheat the sauce in a microwave oven or a double boiler before using.

2) This sauce is also great for cakes, ice-cream and tarts.

The eclairs were delicious! I especially liked the chocolate pudding filling.

I used the Jacque Torres "Big Daddy" chocolate that I had bought at his chocolate shop in the recipe.

The recipe may seem complicated, but if you follow it step by step it was actually very easy to make. As you can see by the photo above they were gobbled up quickly at the block party and I received a lot of compliments!

If you would like to see wonderful versions of the Chocolate Eclairs on other Daring Bakers web sites today, check the Daring Bakers blogroll! There is also an open forum for general baking discussions here, but you have to be a member of Daring Bakers in order to register to log in for each month's challenge and discussions regarding it.

If you think you are up to taking the monthly challenge instructions are on the blog as to how to join! Don't delay, as there is only a 24 hour time limit to join evey month for the next month's challenge!

There is even an "Alternative Daring Baking group for gluten-free, lactose intolerant, allergy, vegetarians, vegans and bakers who use alternate ingredients due to other health concerns or life styles. "

I hope to see you all doing the September Daring Baker Challenge!


Anonymous said...

You did great kiddo! :)

Vee ~ A Haven for Vee said...

Wow! Eclairs are some of my favorite delights, but it looks way too labor intensive for li'l ol me to try. I'll pretend that I was at the block party and visit the bakery on my way by this morning. Ha!

Proud Italian Cook said...

Oh My Goodness, I'm in eclair heaven here!! 60? You had to be the hit of the block party walking in with these! Great job Pat, they look scrumptious!

Barb said...

Oh Pat, those look amazing! Chocolate eclairs are one of my favorite things.

You are a woman of many talents.

Have a wonderful weekend with your family.


Penny @ Lavender Hill Studio said...

Man oh Man do those look good! Great job !!!

Kathy said...

Your eclairs look so delicious Pat, bet your nephew and his friends enjoyed them very much. hugs, Kathy. eh did they happen to save me one??.

Judy said...

I'm impressed. I haven't made eclairs in years and years. I may have to give them a try. Your block party sounds like fun, I'll have to check it out.

Linda Lou said...

Pat, I am so impressed, looks like a lot of work to make those yummy eclairs, I am not much of a baber myself. I can almost taste them melting in my mouth.

Camille said...

The chocolate glaze looks rich! I like mini-sized eclairs and it does make a nice dessert to bring to a party. My family reunion went well and my eclairs went, too!

Strider said...

I'm so full now I don't think I could eat a thing.......but maybe a few of those eclairs would work...light, right?

Marina Capano said...

HI!!!!Pat, those look amazing! mmmmmmmhhhhh! So yummy!


Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Oh, that looks like so much fun! Time-consuming, but fun. And oh so delicious!

Tara said...

Hi Pat

Oooh, how delicious these look, I am thinking a side latte would be best!

Hope you have been well these past 2 weeks, all fine here, I set up a blog post this morning--am back at it!

Enjoy your Labor day!

Gina said... are very clever..they look soooo delectable! My mouth is watering :D

Be said...

Oh my gosh, Pat. Surely these must be a sin. And, now I want one. My son would be in bliss. He loves eclairs.

Beverly said...

Oops! That was me. I pressed enter too fast.

Eat4Fun said...

Congrats on completing your second DB Challenge! :-)

Your mini-mini eclairs look great! I hope there wasn't a lot of pushing and shoving to get the last eclair at the block party.

Judy said...

You were defintiely up to the challenge...your eclairs look wonderful.

Pat@Back Porch Musings said...

Looks so delicious and I love your clever idea of making them bite sized!

steviewren said...

Oh my gosh, your lucky lucky neighbors. Did they bow and kiss your feet for making something so yummy...cause they should have!

kari and kijsa said...

Oh my yummy goodness!!!
Have a wonderful Labor Day! Thank you for all your prayers and blessings,
kari & kijsa

Audax Artifex said...

What an effort for the block party I think eclairs are great party food and everybody really likes them and they are easy to make. I love the shiny chocolate glaze. How did you get 60 eclairs out of it? I could only get 16 bigger sized ones from the recipe.

M.Kate said...

aw...Pat, now you got me drolling over these eclairs...send some over ok :D

Anonymous said...

Awesome job! Chocolate pudding center? Wow!


Lisa B. said...

I'm not sure you'll see me trying it... not if the recipe is that daring! Yours look beautiful and I'm sure were every bit as delicious!! I'll have to watch their recipes and if I see one a little more remedial...maybe jump in and give one a try! lol.

Junie Moon said...

This is amazing! I love eclairs and am so impressed that you made these. They look scrumptious! Thank you for sharing the details and the process.

Nihal said...

Mouth-watering chocolate éclairs! I love them, I love them!
And, did you know éclairs, or as we call 'Ekler' -a french translation into turkish-, is one of the most popular delights in this country?! Yes, it is.
However I cannot consume them as much as I like because I'm a bit allergic for chocolate and related stuff.
Thanks for the ricetta, so I'll save some of my money for my next travels. Till now I was paying, lol:)

dana said...

Your eclairs look so yummy--I'll bet they didn't last too long at the block party!

Your post on Bay Ridge was wonderful! What a history Brooklyn has with such a diverse group of residents and residences! I so enjoyed your wonderful photos and informative text! Dana

Anonymous said...

They look totally gorgeous Pat! how did the block party go?

I've found my recipe for Burford Lardy Cake at last. I'll email it to you in a sec in case it's something you'd like to try.

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Your Eclairs look terribly scrumptious! Beautiful! Very well done!



Tracy said...

Oh, Pat...chocolate heaven! These are resplendant and decadent...THANK YOU!! :o) We're heading Stateside tomorrow--hooray! Hope to post while away...Hope you're having a great week, my friend. Until soon...((HUGS))

Joanne Kennedy said...

Oh yum! Eclairs are one of my all time favorites! We have a bakery here that has the BEST!

I've never made them so I'm very impressed you did!

I've never had them with chocolate cream inside either. I bet they were wonderful!


LOUISE said...

We love chocolate eclairs and profiteroles with extra cream! I remember Mum would make eclairs for us as kids. You really did make a brilliant job of yours Pat, the sight and taste of them must have gone down very well at the party. A few more moments later and your photo would have captured an empty dish! x

Lavinia said...

Do not ask me how many of these I could eat at one sitting. DO NOT!

Lovely luscious pictures....