Sunday, August 31, 2008

Eclairs - Darking Bakers' August Challenge

This month we were challenged by Tony Tahhan and MeetaK to make Pierre Herme eclairs. You can see the recipe and technique on their blogs. I've made eclairs before, but it's always fun to have an excuse to make a dessert, and to try variations on a recipe. I waited until the last possible minute and made these last night! The pate a choux was easy - I like the food processor method. And I got 22 little eclairs - very close to what the recipe predicts. That said, I agree with other posters that they were too eggy and too soft. I don't know that there is any particular benefit from adding milk - so I will stick to my old recipe - four ingredients, perfect and crisp every time - 1 cup water, 1 stick butter, 1 cup flour, 4 eggs.

I elected to do my variation on the pastry cream filling - I added a few tablespoons of hazelnut praline to the pastry cream as it was cooling down. This is a very good recipe and I will make it again, though I have a tendency to want to shortcut the tempering process and nearly scramble the eggs everytime. Ah well, that is what the seive is for, no?

As far as the chocolate sauce, all I can say is hmmm. There are a damn lot of steps and ingredients to get something that is no better than ganache. OK, maybe that's not fair - is anything better than ganache? But you know. I would be interested to hear what others think, but it seems like a darn lot of steps to get essentially a chocolate ganache. I kept waiting for the secret to reveal itself, but I got nothing - add water and then boil it off? How about we start with heavy cream instead? Ah well, that's why these challenges are so fascinating - you get other people's view of the world!
I think I will definintely make the pastry cream again, and make eclairs more often, but i will use my own pate a choux recipe and a simple ganache for glazing.


TeaLady said...

But they do look yummy!

jo said...

oohh .. yum. love the way the chocolate is oozing down the eclairs.

Ann said...


SINFUL. Man, those look good. But a bunch of steps and not better than ganache? When ganache is SO easy? I hear ya, my friend, I hear ya!

Anonymous said...

I agree about the multi step to make the chocolate glaze. Made no difference with normal 1 step process. I did not bother with the oven door ajar and followed my tried and tested way.

ella said...

I know what you mean about the 2-step glaze nonsense. I don't mind going the extra mile for a reason, but this just couldn't justify itself.
Mine came out GREAT with a little side stepping around the glaze issue...

Kim said...

Lisa- I don't know how you managed to find time with this challenge with all that you are doing. Yum is all I have to say.

Brittany said...

Ooooh...I haven't had a good eclair in ages. Now I've got a mean craving and it's all your fault!

Lisa said...

tealady - thanks!

Jo - yep, the best part

Ann - the chocolate sauce is actually pretty good directly off the spoon too!

Safari - I hear you - no fiddling with the oven here either!

Ella - funny how we end up making the same changes!

Kim - Hi - yes, it's crazy here - hope you are safe and dry!

Brittany - They really were good, though I will always opt for the simplified version!