Monday 2 January 2012


Chocolate Eclairs

150 ml whole milk
150 ml water
120 gm unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
180 gm all-purpose flour
4 to 5 eggs

1...In a sauce pot, bring the milk, water, butter, sugar and salt to a rolling boil.  Keep the mixture on the heat until it has expanded and then fallen.  Remove from the heat, and pour the flour in all at once.
2...Stir vigorously until the mixture becomes a ball.

3...Place back over medium-low heat and continue stirring about 10 minutes to dry out the dough.  Remove from the heat and stir until you no longer see steam rising from the dough.  Place the dough in a stand mixer using a paddle attachment and stir in one egg at a time.  With the electric mixer or by hand, the dough will break up into pieces and come back together as you incorporate each egg.

4...After the fourth egg, lift the dough up with the spoon or paddle attachment to test if it's ready.  As you lift it, it should come to a point, stay for a few seconds, then fall back on itself.  If it doesn't fall, add the fifth egg, or part of it.

5...Using a pastry bag and round tip, 12 mm or 1/2-inch in diameter, pipe out cylindars 4 1/2 inches long onto the parchment-lined baking sheet.  Leave 2 inches between each eclair you pipe.

6...Bake at 375 F for 20 minutes, then lower the temperature to 350 F and bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes more.

7...Turn off the heat and open the oven to keep the door ajar (yes, you can use a wooden spoon to do this, if necessary).  Let the eclairs dry out for 20 minutes more with the oven off.

For the chocolate pastry cream:
750 ml whole milk
185 gm granulated sugar, divided in half
8 egg yolks
65 gm cornstarch
300 gm quality dark chocolate, melted

1...Bring the milk and half the sugar to a boil.  As the milk is heating, whisk together the othr half of the sugar and the egg yolks until the mixture is combined and has lightened in color.  Whisk in the cornstarch.
2...Once the milk boils, slowly pour it into the egg yolk mixture, whisking the entire time, until you have added all the milk into the egg yolks.
3...Pour the mixture back into the sauce pot and bring to a boil, whisking constantly.  Once the mixture boils, keep over the heat for about 30 seconds more, whisking continuously.
4...Remove from the heat and pass through a fine mesh seive into a bowl.  Add the chocolate and stir until all the chocolate has been combined into the pastry cream.  Place the mixture over an ice bath and let cool for 10 minutes.
5...Spread the mixture into a 13x9-inch glass dish and cover with platic wrap (the plastic wrap should be touching the pastry cream, so a film doesn't form).  Refrigerate until the pastry cream is cold.

For the chocolate ganache icing:
150 ml heavy cream
150 gm dark couverture chocolate, finely chopped
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature

1...Place the chopped chocolate in a bowl.  In a sauce pot, heat the cream just until it's scalding (little bubbles appear around the rim).
2...Pour the cream over the chocolate.  Let the mixture rest for a minute, then slowly whisk together.  3...To create a smooth ganache, place the whisk in the center of the mixture and whisk in a small, slow, circular motion until the chocolate and cream combine.  Break the butter into four pieces and place on top of the mixture.  Once the butter melts, slowly stir it in with the whisk.
4...Let the ganache cool and thicken just to the point that it will not run when you frost the eclairs, about 90 F.

To assemble the eclairs:

The eclairs should be completely cooled, and the pastry cream should be cold before assembling.  It is best to assemble the eclairs 1-2 hours before serving. Using a star tip about 1/4 inch in diameter, poke three holes in the bottom of each eclair.

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