As written in my post title, before commenting this exciting challenge I'm glad to introduce you a friend of mine, Natalia that has his personal blog at last.
Is a newborn one but I'm inviting you all to visit it...you'll appreciate, I'm sure.
Here is the link gatti fili e farina
And now my comment.
The eclairs and every kind of puff pastries are generally thought as impossible or only for expertise maitre patissiere.
But daring bakers are brave and their beautiful challenges prove that anything is impossible for them!
This was the reference book, luxurious isn't it?
All baker's guru Pierre Hermè decided for us or ehm...what a mistake...our month hosts decided for this version of eclairs.
I was enough confident in the eclairs dough so I hadn't any particular difficulties in the preparation.
I've used as usual a electric mixer to add the eggs and follow literally PH's instructions.
Usually I use a slightly different recipe, as I've written on an older post on profiterol taken from my favourite food forum prezzemolo e finocchio, no milk in the batter only water and a costant oven temperature of 200°C without turn the pan or other tricks, anyway I've used the PH method except for the pan's number I've cooked my three pans one by one not all toghether.
For filling I've loved this custard and it's eligible to become mine :)
But I love fantasy so I've choseen a simply sugared whipped cream in the first version with fresh raspberries and in the second version you can see the classic PH custard with blueberries.
The chocolate glaze: croce e delizia say Afredo e Violetta in the Traviata Opera.
Although I hadn't any problem in making this deliciuos glaze I had some more problems on topping the eclairs.
I've prepared everything at the same time, making eclairs, going on with custard, taking off the eclairs from the oven, start with the chocolate sauce (I found the latter simple, no thermometer, no temperatures, only boil until thick), adding chocolate sauc to the choc glaze, whipping the cream.
It has taken about 3 hour of hard work.
So eventually I joined toghether all the elements and topping my eclairs just dipping they into the still warm glaze.
As result a total gourgeous glaze, shiny a a mirror.
In this way I've topped about the half of the 30 eclairs (just one-bite in size) and decided to wait for the morning to complete my work.
On the next morning I took the glaze and it was hard, as I've expected.
But an awful surprise was as I lightly warmed the glaze a lsuperficial layer of melted butter on it and mixing hard with a wooden spoon was useless.
So when I tryied to dip my eclairs the glaze slipped away due to the butter layer.
And I was obliged to use a spoon and help the glaze to top my eclairs.
THIS IS THE REASON WHY MY TWO CENTS ARE: TOP THE ECLAIRS IMMEDIATELY SIMPLY DIPPING THEM INTO THE WARM GLAZE.
Here is the original recipe as posted by the hosts.
Last but not least: please take a look on DB blogroll in my side bar, you'll have a lot of fun!
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 bypositioning the racks in the upper and lower half of the oven. Line two baking sheets withwaxed 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 thehandle of a wooden spoon into the door to keep in ajar. When the éclairs have been in theoven 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 thebottoms 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 ofthe éclairs using a metal icing spatula. Allow the tops to set and in the meantime fill thebottoms with the pastry cream.
3) Pipe or spoon the pastry cream into the bottoms of the éclairs. Make sure you fill the bottomswith enough cream to mound above the pastry. Place the glazed tops onto the pastry creamand 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 createbubbles.
2) The éclairs should be served as soon as they have been filled.
Pierre Hermé’s Cream Puff DoughRecipe 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 temperature
1) 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 mediumand start to stir the mixture vigorously with a wooden spoon. The dough comes together veryquickly. Do not worry if a slight crust forms at the bottom of the pan, it’s supposed to. Youneed to carry on stirring for a further 2-3 minutes to dry the dough. After this time the doughwill be very soft and smooth.
3) Transfer the dough into a bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or using yourhandmixer 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 donot worry. As you keep working the dough, it will come back all together again by the time youhave added the third egg. In the end the dough should be thick and shiny and when lifted itshould 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 bakingsheets and slide the sheets into the freezer. Once the dough is completely frozen, transfer thepiped 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 yolk
• 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 SauceRecipe 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.