26 June 2007

Éclairs au Chocolat (with how-to)

(Chocolate Éclairs) Unless you are building a skill, there's no reason to bake something that you can buy for cheap and is excellent. I remember the éclairs of Dulcinea are good, but they are not cheap. So I was excited to make this recipe by Pierre Hermé (again) for éclairs. However, there is a bonus and a unique touch: the crème pâtissière is also chocolate-flavored, so it isn't quite like anything else out there. There is a problem, though: the pastry shell (pâte à choux) is incredibly difficult to make. So many places to fail.
Chocolate Éclair
Chocolate Éclairs
To begin, have all the ingredients at hand. Again.

Bring the milk, water, a stick of butter, and a pinch each of sugar and salt to a rapid boil:

Then dump all the flour in. Of course, there are no photos of this, since once you do, you have to stir like mad for 2 or so minutes, and I can't take a picture while doing that. In my zeal, I dumped the flour too forcefully and the boiling mixture splattered on my left index finger. OUCH. Couldn't soothe it, had to stir like mad. The flour gelatinizes in the liquid, and stirring it for 2 minutes until a crust forms on the bottom dries out all the moisture, so you can add as many eggs as you can without thinning the batter.

It will come to a ball like the one above. Move it to a bowl where you can beat in the eggs with a hand mixer.

After the first egg, the dough will look separated and ugly. But after the 4th egg, it will come back together again. Place in a pastry bag.

Pipe out 4-inch shapes onto your baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Of course, I sucked at this.

Bake for 7 minutes, then open the door a little, bake for 12 minutes, then rotate the pans top to bottom, back to front, left to right, and bake for 8 more minutes. It's supposed to rise to 3 times its size. The heat creates steam, hollowing out the inside, while a crust forms on the outside. Unfortunately, I don't think my oven was hot enough, so it only rose to twice its size and it was not completely hollow. Time to buy an oven thermometer? (Those are P500/$10. Ouch.)

Slice in half, then spread the glaze on each top half and fill with chocolate pastry cream, then sandwich together.

What is the lesson to be learned? CHECK YOUR OVEN TEMPERATURE!!!! Don't trust its internal thermostat.

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