Sometimes I really cannot understand my own self. There are lots of things I bake almost everyday. Many are tests, but there are a few that we enjoy a lot and make often, but no blogging about them. Why? I have no idea why. Maybe they are so routine or so familiar that I do not consider them blog worthy anymore? And then I think to myself: is there such a thing as “blog worthy”? And if there would be such a standard, what are the judging criteria?
I did not find the formula to judge sweets yet, but I am really ashamed of not posting about the choux a la creme earlier. It is a wonderful treat, that one can play around with in lots of ways.
This time, I went with the classic: vanilla cream and chocolate glaze. But, the variations are endless. What about a tiramisu mousse and chocolate espresso glaze? Or a chocolate pastry cream with white chocolate glaze, or………
For the pate a choux
I have tried many recipes for it, but the one that I consider the most “fool proof” is the one from Pierre Herme
(the recipe yields 20-25 eclairs – 11 cm long; I get about 60 small choux)
125 ml water
125 ml milk
115 g butter
a pinch of sugar
a pinch of salt (if using unsalted butter)
140 g flour
5 large eggs
Place the first 5 ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat and allow it to come to a boil.
Take it off the heat, add all the flour at once and mix everything. The dough will come away from the sides pretty quick. Return the pan to the heat and let it dry for 2-3 minutes.
Place the dough in a clean bowl and while still warm start adding the eggs – one at the time. Add the next one only after the previous has been completely mixed in and the dough comes together again.
After all eggs are added, the dough should be thick, shinny and when lifted from the bowl it
should fall back in a ribbon.
Pipe the dough immediately, while still warm. You can either bake them or freeze them for latter baking.
Preheat the oven to 190 degrees.
Pipe the dough onto the baking sheet. Leave some space in between each eclair/ choux to allow them room to puff.
Place the baking sheets in the oven. Bake them for about 10 minutes until completely puffed and slightly golden. Lower the temperature to 160 degrees and start the oven fan (it helps them dry). If at any point they seem to get brown on the outside, open the oven door and lower the temperature even more.
To make them even better, poke them with a tooth pick when almost done baking.
The total baking time should be approximately 20-25 minutes.
Pipe the dough as you would do if baking them. Place the baking sheet in the freezer. When frozen, place them in a bag and keep in the freezer until ready to bake. When you wish, bake them without defrosting but keep in mind that it will take a bit longer to puff.
For the vanilla pastry cream
4 egg yolks
50 g brown sugar
30 g cornstarch
250 ml milk
1/2 vanilla bean
250 ml whipped cream
Bring the milk and vanilla bean to a boil. In the meantime mix the first 3 ingredients into a smooth paste.
When the milk has reached the boiling point start pouring it over the yolk mixture. Scrape the vanilla seeds into the cream. Return the mixture back to the pan and on medium heat. Whisk continuously until the cream thickens.
Force the cream through a fine sieve into a clean bowl set over an ice bath. When the mixture cools to room temperature, incorporate the whipped cream.
For the chocolate glaze
40 g heavy cream
50g bittersweet chocolate
10g butter, at room temperature
55 g Chocolate Sauce (recipe below)
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.Stirring gently, stir in the butter, piece by piece followed by the chocolate sauce.
Notes: 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.
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.
26 g bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
50 g water
25g heavy cream
15 g sugar
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.
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.
Notes: 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.