Not your typical eclair

I still remember the day I stumbled upon the Daring Bakers. Do you? I thought it was odd. Why did everyone all of a sudden decide to blog about French bread? And why were they all using Julia Child’s recipe? I was sure I had found some sort of freaky food cult, but there was no way around it. Every blog, every comment, everyone was going on and on about these breads. It was like being the new kid in school all over again; only this time all the cool kids were talking about food & baking.

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This is my 6th month now as a Daring Baker and I got to cohost the August challenge with the amazing Meeta from What’s for Lunch Honey. She took me under her wing a few months ago and we immediately started scouring cookbooks for the ultimate recipe.

mise en place
mise en place

We began by brainstorming via e-mail and quickly settled upon an eclaire recipe from Meeta’s sugar daddy, and king of French pastries, Pierre Hermé. This was great since I had never made éclairs, but consider myself a professional éclair eater. Of course, the best part of any challenge is modifying the recipe and having the complete Culinary Freedom to bake whatever you want. I decided to make profiteroles (ie tiny, round éclairs), filled with an almond pastry cream, glazed with a hazelnut chocolate glaze and topped with finely chopped pistachios. Here is how it all went down:

choux dough
choux dough

Choux dough is extremely easy to make, to my surprise. French pastries don’t exactly have the best reputations for being the ones you could whip up in no time. But for this dough there is no worrying about cold butter or overworking the gluten by stirring it for mere seconds. Nope, all this is left behind when entering choux paradise. Once these babies puff up in the oven, you’ve got yourself an empty canvas perfect for filling with whatever your foodie heart desires.

profiterole work flow
filling the profiteroles

I opted for an almond-infused pastry cream, and let me tell you: this pastry cream could be a dessert on its own. I had no problems eating it straight from a spoon as the profiteroles were baking away in the oven. Eventually, though, I had to exercise self control in risk of not having enough filling for the pastries. Next time, I’m doubling the the recipe for the cream – mark my words!

triple nut profiteroles
triple nut profiteroles

I’ve got to hand it to the French – they know exactly what they’re doing when it comes to cuisine (especially pastries). I will definitely be making these again in the near future.

I want to send a big thank you to all the Daring Bakers who joined us this month in baking eclairs! Finally, I also want to send a big hug to Natalie of Gluten A Go Go and Helen of Tartelette for helping us tackle any choux questions and offering their pearls of wisdom on how to achieve eclair bliss.

Almond Profiteroles

makes approx. 35-40 profiteroles

adapted from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé

Components

  • 900 g almond infused pastry cream
  • pâte à choux
  • 1 cup hazelnut chocolate glaze
  • finely chopped pistachios

Putting them all together

  1. Pipe choux dough onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees F for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown and dry.
  2. With a serrated knife gently slice open each profiterole and pipe pastry cream into the bottom half.
  3. Replace cover, drizzle with hazelnut chocolate glaze and top with finely chopped pistachios.

notes: The individual recipes are posted under “Read more…”

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made to be eaten
a big bite

Almond Pastry Cream

makes 2 1/2 cups or 900 g

adapted from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé

Components

  • 2 cups (500 g) whole milk
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 6 tbsp (75 g) sugar
  • 3 tbsp cornstarch, sifted
  • 2 1/2 tbsp (40 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract

Putting them all together

  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 until the mixture returns to a boil.  Continue whisking for 1 to 2 more minutes (still over medium heat).
  4. Scrape the pastry cream into a small bowl and set in an ice bath to stop the cooking process. Make sure to continue stirring occasionally so that you end up with a smooth cream.
  5. Once the cream has slightly cooled, slowly begin to add the butter in three or four installments and then add the almond extract.
  6. Cover with plastic wrap and store in the fridge until ready to use.

notes: The pastry cream can be made 2-3 days in advance and stored in the fridge.

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Chocolate Glaze

yields approx. 1 cup or 300 g

adapted from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé

Components

  • 1/3 cup (80 g) heavy cream
  • 3 1/2 oz (100 g) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 4 tsp (20 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 7 tbsp (110 g) Chocolate Sauce, warm or at room temperature

Putting them all together

  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, add the butter, piece by piece followed by the chocolate sauce.

notes:

  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.
  2. It is best to glaze the éclairs 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 proper temperature (95 to 104 degrees F) when ready to glaze.

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Chocolate Sauce

makes 1/2 cup or 250 g

adapted from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé

Components

  • 2 1/4 oz (65 g) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup (60 g) water
  • 2 tbsp hazelnut liquor
  • 2 tbsp Nutella
  • 1/4 cup (125 g) crème fraîche, or heavy cream
  • 2 tbsp (25 g) sugar

Putting them all together

  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. It is complete once you can run your finger through the back of the spoon and the chocolate stays separate.

notes:

  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 and tarts.

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Pâte à Choux

makes 35-40 profiteroles

adapted from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé

Components

  • 1/2 cup (125 g) whole milk
  • 1/2 cup (125 g) water
  • 1 stick (115 g) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup (140 g) all-purpose flour
  • 5 large eggs, at room temperature

Putting them all together

  1. In a heavy-bottomed medium saucepan, bring the milk, water, butter, sugar and salt to a boil.
  2. Once the mixture is at a rolling boil, add all the flour in at once, reduce the heat to medium and start to stir the mixture vigorously with a wooden spoon. The dough will come together quickly. Continue stirring until the dough is smooth, dry and has come away from the pan (2-3 minutes).
  3.  Transfer the dough into the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (you can also continue by hand). Let the dough cool while mixing on low for a couple of minutes so that the eggs do not scramble.
  4. Once the dough has slightly cooled, begin to add the eggs one at a time. The dough will separate in the beginning, but it should come back together after the 3rd or 4th egg.
  5. While the dough is still slightly warm, scoop it into a piping bag to beginning piping the éclairs or profiteroles.

notes:

  1. Once the dough is made you need to shape it immediately.
  2. You can pipe the dough and freeze it. Simply pipe the dough onto parchment-lined baking sheets, and freeze. Once the dough is completely frozen, transfer the piped shapes into a freezer bag and store for up to 1 month.

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91 thoughts on “Not your typical eclair

  1. Tony, thanks for a great challenge this month. I love the flavor you chose for your eclairs. So glad we’ve “met” through the blogs!

  2. THanks Tony, for the challenge. This couldn’t have been more incredible if I had chosen it myself. Nicely done. I too did the little round eclairs. I totally found joy in this challenge.

  3. I love your French flag graphic. What a great way to simply break down all of the ingredients. Wonderful challenge this month – thanks!

  4. Tony, thanks for the great pick. As usual I LOVE your mise-en-place pictures. So so pretty (so are your choux).

    xx fanny

  5. I agree the cream is sooo good and I too “sampled” a few too many time that I got a bit of a tummy ach, I think my daughter did too.

    Thank you I love it when a challenge draws in the whole family and this was one of them.

  6. As a relative newbie to the DB, I find each challenge a learning experience. Thank for you a wonderful choice!

  7. Thanks for the great recipe selection this month for Daring Baker’s! This was my first month participating and although I felt a bit overwhelmed (by the many steps) this came together great for me. However, I am loving the flavor combination you chose and wish now I would have done something a little different to mine!

  8. Great Job Tony! When I heard you were cohosting the eclair challenge I couldn’t wait to see what you would come up with. These look delicious!

  9. I love you make little photographic diagrams of the ingredients – very cool! And these eclaris look terribly tempting. I just posted on Meeta’s site that seeing eclairs all over the blogosphere today is giving me a powerful craving for them!

  10. Very nice pick this month, so thanks! I always enjoy looking at how you present your info — so attractive and neat. And the puffs are perfect, of course!

  11. Tony,
    Thank you and Meeta for choosing such a great recipe! The eclairs are wonderful and your petit ones are gorgeous!

  12. Tony,

    I’m honoured that it was my challenge that inspired you to become a Daring Baker! Thanks so much for co-hosting this fabulous challenge. I get to return the favour by telling you that the pastry cream for this challenge was by far the best pastry cream I’ve ever had and it will be my go-to one.

    Your photos are as wonderful as the recipe.

  13. Thanks for hosting this month Tony- the eclairs were a fun challenge! I adore your profiteroles and your post is beautiful!
    xo

  14. Tony,
    Beautiful post… Your pictures are always such a delight and the choice of eclairs is decadent and delicious. Profiteroles were always my mother’s specialty when we were growing up filled with ice cream instead of creme patissiere and warm dark chocolate sauce over the whole thing. This post is bringing back some serious memories. 🙂

  15. The profiteroles look amazing! The ingredient chart and step by step pictures are great… and well, the final profiteroles are even better. Loving the nutty twist!
    Thanks for hosting this DB challenge 🙂

  16. Tony, thank you and Meeta for a wonderful challenge this month (my first). I really enjoyed participating. Your profiteroles look wonderful and the almond pasty cream sounds divine!

  17. Profiteroles! Ohhhh, now I know what to try the next time I make these. Thanks to you and Meeta for choosing such a delicious challenge. My whole neighborhood thanks you, actually! 🙂

  18. I know you probably get this about 50 million times a day, but I just have to say it again: I love your photos!! Especially the mise en place ones!! You are so very meticulous and neat you make me ashamed of the mess I create every time I bake. But I’m glad to see that your glaze turned out shiny and smooth. Just my luck that mine did not turn out the same way. Beautiful profiteroles, I’m sure they tasted awesome with almond cream filling!!

  19. Wow Tony, only a member for six months and you come up with this?!? I am absolutely amazed at how you photographed the ingredients for the fillings. That was truly creative. From the looks of everyone’s results I would say that you had a successful run as co-host this month!

  20. Tony with you these were all the more sweeter! your little profiteroles look fantastic and yes – i love the addition of pistachios!

  21. Wow! Great looking website and illustrations. Delicious looking bites. Thank you for hosting this months challenge. It was a challenge for me, but a very enjoyable challenge. 🙂

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