Week 80: Chocolate Éclairs


I finally done it! An acceptable batch of the elusive éclair! And I have this tutorial to thank. It is the most comprehensive tutorial I managed to find after months of scouring the internet. Give it a read-through. If you are serious about making these, the advice and explanations given here is worth every minute of your time. The filling and glaze i used was adapted from Pierre Herme’s recipe.
Makes 10 to 12 éclairs

For the pâte à choux

75g water

75g whole milk

75g unsalted butter

5g sugar

5g salt

100g bread flour, sifted

150g eggs (about 3), room temperature and lightly beaten

Icing sugar, for dusting

1) Bring the water, milk, butter, sugar, and salt to a strong simmer in a medium saucepan over medium heat.

2) Remove the pot from the heat and add all the flour at once. Stir vigorously until the flour is completely incorporated.

3) Return to heat and mix the dough, being careful not to scrape the bottom of the pan as a film may form there while cooking. Cook until the dough reaches 75°C, about two minutes. You may see a film form at the bottom of the pan.

4) Transfer the dough to a bowl and, using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix on the lowest speed for about one minute and thirty seconds, such that the dough cools down to 60°C.

5) Add half of the eggs and mix, still on the lowest speed if using a stand mixer, until combined.

6) With the mixer still running, add the rest of the beaten eggs slowly while you continue to mix.

7) Once incorporated, mix for an additional minute until the dough is smooth.

8) Prepare a parchment paper lined baking sheet by dabbing a bit of choux between the paper and the pan at each corner to secure the paper to the pan.

9) Pre-heat oven to 180°C.

10) Transfer the choux to a pastry bag fitted with a star tip, about 1.5cm (1/2 inch) in diameter with as many small teeth as possible (about 16 is good).

11) Pipe the éclairs in 13cm (5 inch) lengths, and about 2.5cm (1 inch) wide. Space the éclairs about 5cm (2 inches) apart.

12) Dust with icing sugar.

13) Bake at 180°C for 30 minutes, or until slightly darker than a golden brown.

14) Remove from the oven and make a thin slit at the bottom of each éclair while still hot to let the steam escape. Return to the oven and bake for another 5 minutes.

15) Allow to cool completely before filling.

For the chocolate crème chiboust

250ml whole milk

2 large egg yolks

37g granulated sugar

1.5 tbsp cornstarch

100g dark chocolate couverture, preferably with 70% cocoa butter

20g unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 gelatine sheets

2 large egg whites

62g granulated sugar

A pinch of salt

1) In a small saucepan, bring the milk to a boil.

2) In a bowl, combine the yolks, 37g sugar and cornstarch together and whisk until well-mixed.

3) 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.

4) Pour the mixture back into the saucepan. Place the pan over medium heat and whisk vigorously (without stop) until the mixture returns to a boil.

5) Keep whisking vigorously for 1 to 2 more minutes (still over medium heat). The mixture should have thicken, Do not overcook.

6) Remove cream mixture from heat and pour it onto chocolate couverture in a large bowl. Allow it to sit for a minute, then, slowly stir the mixture so chocolate is melted and mixed thoroughly.

7) Add butter to the cream and stir to melt.

8) Bloom the gelatine sheets in cold water, then, squeeze the water from the sheets before adding to the pastry cream. It should melt easily into the warm cream.

9) Allow the cream to cool to room temperature.

10) Meanwhile, prepare the syrup by adding 25ml water to the 62g sugar. Cook it on a heavy-bottomed saucepan until it reached 118°C.

11) Start whisking the egg whites with a pinch of salt on a stand mixer when sugar syrup reaches 100°C. You should achieve stiff peaks by the time syrup is ready.

12) Turn mixer speed to low and pour syrup down the sides of the mixer bowl. Do not let the syrup hit the whisk directly. Continue whisking until egg whites are smooth and glossy.

13) Add a quarter of the egg whites into the chocolate cream and stir vigorously to lighten the cream.

14) Pour the lightened chocolate cream into the meringue and fold until smooth.

15) To fill the éclairs, scrap the chocolate crème chiboust into a piping bag with a Bismarck tip. Make 3 tiny holes at the bottom of each éclairs and pipe to fill up the puff. You will know the puff is filled when the cream starts to overflow slightly.

16) Allow the crème chiboust to set in the refrigerator (as I was short of time, i popped them into the freezer).

For the chocolate sauce

65g dark chocolate couverture, preferably with 70% cocoa butter

125ml water

67ml heavy cream

35g granulated sugar

1) Place all the ingredients into a heavy‐bottomed saucepan and bring to a boil, making sure to stir constantly.

2) 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: This makes double the amount of sauce needed for the following chocolate glaze recipe. You can store the leftover in the refrigerator for two weeks. Reheat the sauce in a microwave oven or a double boiler before using.
This sauce is also great for cakes, ice-cream and tarts.
For the chocolate glaze40g heavy cream50g dark chocolate couverture, preferably with 70% cocoa butter

10g unsalted butter, at room temperature

55g chocolate sauce (from above), warm or at room temperature

1) In a small saucepan, bring the heavy cream to a boil.

2) Remove from the heat and slowly begin to add the chocolate, stirring with a wooden spoon or spatula.

3) Stirring gently, stir in the butter, followed by the chocolate sauce.

Notes: If the chocolate glaze is too cool (i.e. not liquid enough) you may heat it briefly

in a heavy saucepan on low heat, stirring constantly to ensure the bottom does not burn. 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.

Voila! The original Pierre Herme recipe uses crème pâtissière (without adding the gelatine and meringue) but considering the size of the pastry, I thought it would be a bit too heavy. The recipe above made more than enough to fill 10 éclairs (one of them was stuck to my baking parchment so I ate it, in the name of testing) and 4 small cream puffs. I think I have about 1/3 of it left. My éclairs are not quite as perfect as I would have liked them to be, but, I believe from here on, practice makes perfect.


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