It's that time of the month again and the Daring Bakers are once again taking over the blogosphere. If you see hundreds of eclair posts on foodie blogs, don't panic, you have not gone crazy! It's just us, doing our thing again.
Knowing I'd have a baby coming this month, I went ahead and made the eclairs early on because I knew I wouldn't have the time to do it once the baby arrived. As it is, it's difficult to find time to post about it. I'm doing so while Liev is on his swing. He's not asleep but is not fussing. But I digress.
I was really excited when I read that this month's challenge was eclairs. I had been wanting to make eclairs for a while but hadn't actually gotten around to it. As (almost) usual, there was a chocolate element to the challenge. Well, more like two elements but we were given the choice of leaving one of them out. As most of you know by now, I despise chocolate but since I had already skipped July's challenge and wanted to make the eclairs, I figured I could make some chocolate and some not.
The recipe was for chocolate glazed eclairs filled with chocolate pastry cream. I did not do the pastry cream but used a different recipe instead, Julia Child's recipe to be exact. I had made pastry cream once before and it was a total disaster. It was lumpy and tasteless. This one, however, was very nice. The vanilla extract made the pastry cream a bit brown but taste and texture wise it was great. I was really impressed.
I was not at all intimidated by the pate a choux as I'm usually not intimidated in the kitchen. I had never tried it before but I was very surprised at how easy it all was. There were complaints from other DBs about their pastries not puffing up or falling after baking but I had no problems whatsoever. One of the rules for the challenge was that we had to use the given pate a choux recipe so I did that. However, in the cooling process, I followed the advice of the great Alton Brown (who else if not him???).
AB insists that a crucial step in cooling eclairs and other pate a choux goodies is to, as soon as they are cool enough to handle, take a small knife and insert it in one end of the pastry to let the steam out and stop the pastries from becoming soggy. I did this and it worked great but I have nothing to compare it to.
I used that same hole made by the knife to insert a piping tip into the pastries and fill them with the pastry cream. I did not want to slice the pastries in half, as the recipe suggested, to fill them. That would just make them messy to eat. My plan was to glaze half of the eclairs with semi-sweet chocolate and the other half with white chocolate. Turns out that I didn't have any semi-sweet, only bitter-sweet and that my silly husband had eaten all the white chocolate chips. So, I ended up glazing them all (well, the ones I didn't eat while filling them LOL) with bitter-sweet chocolate.
After all that trouble, my husband didn't like the pastry cream. I guess he's just not a big fan plus most eclairs I ever saw in the UK were filling with whipped cream rather than pastry cream. So, I ate most of them. "But they have chocolate!" you may be thinking. Yes, but I peeled it off before eating :)
1 cup granulated sugar
5 egg yolks
1/2 cup all purpose flour (scooped and leveled)
2 cups boiling milk
1 tbsp butter
1 1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
In a 3 quart mixing bowl, gradually beat the sugar into the egg yolks with a wire whisk or an electric beater. Continue beating until the mixture is pale yellow and forms a ribbon.
Beat in the flour.
Beating the egg yolk mixture, gradually pour in the boiling milk in a thin stream of droplets.
Pour into a clean, heavy bottomed 2.5 quart saucepan and set over moderately high heat. Stir with a wire whisk, reaching all over the bottom of the pan. As the sauce comes to a boil it will get lumpy, but will smooth out as soon as you beat it. When boil is reached, beat over moderately low heat for 2 to 3 minutes to cook the flour. Be careful the custard does not scorch in the bottom of the pan.
Remove from the heat and beat in the butter, then the vanilla. If the custard is not used immediately, clean it off the sides of the pan, and dot the top of the custard with softened butter to prevent a skin from forming over the surface (alternatively, cover with plastic wrap making sure the plastic is sitting right on the surface of the custard).
The creme patissiere will keep for a week in the refrigerator, or may be frozen.
Makes 2 1/2 cups.
That is the pastry cream recipe I used. For the rest of the eclair recipe, you can visit the hostess' blog here.
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