When in Doubt…Leave it at 350

baking, cooking, and other adventures

My First Challenge with The Daring Bakers’ August 31, 2008

In the middle of July I found this group called The Daring Bakers’, and I was completely intrigued by this group. One member or group of members is chosen each month to pick out the challenge for that month. They have done some awesome recipes and I knew that I needed to be a part of the group. I missed the July challenge which bummed me out because I wanted to start with the group as soon as possible. So I waited and finally at the beginning of August I got the official invited. I went to the forum to see what this months challenge was and a breathed a sigh of relief. The challenge was chosen by Tony Tahhan and MeetaK. They chose Chocolate Éclairs from Dorie Greenspan’s book Chocolate Desserts By Pierre Hermé.

I know chocolate éclairs can be difficult. I have never made éclairs. I have contemplated it a few times and I have actually made every part of an éclair but for different recipes. Now I have the chance to finally put all of those components together and make a fabulous éclair.

The rules that we were given are as follows:

1.) The dough used for the éclairs must be a pâte à choux from the recipe given below.

2.) Keep one chocolate element in the challenge either the chocolate glaze or chocolate pastry cream

3.) Everything else is fair game.

After I read the challenge, I wrote down a list of different options for the filling. I finally decided that since I was going to be giving most of these away; I wanted them to be able to appeal to a wide range of people, so no weird flavors:( . I decided to stick with the chocolate glaze as my one element and play with the filling. For the filling, I decided to do two pastry creams using the given recipe. Half of the éclairs will be filled with the chocolate pastry cream and the other half will be filled with a white chocolate pastry cream with fresh raspberries. The white chocolate éclairs will have a white chocolate design on the chocolate glaze so that people will be able to differentiate.

I decided to attack this recipe on 3 different days: Day one I will make the chocolate sauce. Day two I will make the pastry cream. Day three I will make the chocolate glaze, pâte à choux, and assemble the éclairs after everything cools.

The chocolate sauce was very simple and straight forward to make. I really liked the flavor of it just by itself. For the pastry cream I was just going to make one half chocolate and the other half white chocolate, but then when I started to make it I thought that it wasn’t going to make enough. I ended up making a full recipe of Chocolate Pastry Cream and a full recipe of White Chocolate Pastry Cream. Since I only had 6 oz of white chocolate on hand and I couldn’t leave and buy more because I was in the middle of making everything I decided that 6 oz would be enough.

I ended up being one egg short for the dough and realized I didn’t have any white chocolate left to decorate the top of the éclairs, so I had to go to the store anyways. Oh well. Both of the pastry creams turned out great. The chocolate one is VERY chocolaty, but the white chocolate is nice and subtle which will go well with the fresh raspberries. Sometimes I find too much white chocolate to be off putting, so I am glad that I reduced the amount.

The chocolate glaze turned out great. I found that if I let the glaze get pretty thick I could just dip the top of the eclair in the glaze and it would stick very nicely. I learned something new too. I finally sat down and learned how to make a parchment cone, so that I could drizzle white chocolate on some of the eclairs, and it worked great. I was having trouble counting and ended up drizzling too many of the tops with white chocolate, so some chocolate pastry cream went in the excess pretty tops. I kept those for myself 🙂 . They were fantastic.

To make my eclairs more uniform I turned the parchment paper over, that I was using, and marked 4-inch lines evenly spaced on the paper. Doing this actually made it a lot easier to pipe and worked great. For the pâte à choux, I made two batch and I had a small problem with them. It wasn’t cooking up very well and it started to deflate. So I had to keep them in the oven longer. So I ended up baking them for 17 minutes on 375°F and then I lowered the temperature to 350°F and cooked it for another 17 minutes. Which actually made them cook up a lot better.

The worse thing that happened while making these was trying to fill them. I cut them in half, but when I filled the white chocolate eclairs the filling was kinda thick and then started to thin out. So I essentially freaked out and then I tried to put the four raspberries in and they tipped and the filling started to come out. CRAP!!!! They look good; they will just be a little messy to eat. But I guess that is why we have napkins or in this case you might need a towel 🙂 . The chocolate pastry cream turned out great and it was thick enough to pipe. I had some left over raspberries and made 3 chocolate raspberry eclairs. Next time, when I make white chocolate pastry cream I am going to add an extra tablespoon of cornstarch to thicken up the pastry cream so that isn’t so soft.

The flavor of everything was awesome. The white chocolate raspberry had a nice subtle flavor and the fresh raspberry added a nice freshness to it. The chocolate éclairs were great too. They were VERY chocolaty and yummy!!! I ended up making 43 4-inch eclairs. I was trying to give half or more than half away to my friends to take to work. But I could only fit 20 in the 1/4 sheet box….GRRRR!!! So I had to go buy another box because I just can’t have 23 éclairs hanging around in my apartment.

The verdict came in and everyone loved the éclairs.  My friend said that they went quick and the white chocolate with fresh raspberries was the most popular.  Some of his co-workers even asked for my contact information 🙂

Pierre Hermé’s Chocolate Éclairs
Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé
(makes 20-24 Éclairs)

• Cream Puff Dough (see below for recipe), fresh and still warm

1) Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Divide the oven into thirds by
positioning the racks in the upper and lower half of the oven. Line two baking sheets with
waxed or parchment paper.

2) Fill a large pastry bag fitted with a 2/3 (2cm) plain tip nozzle with the warm cream puff dough.
Pipe the dough onto the baking sheets in long, 4 to 41/2 inches (about 11 cm) chubby fingers.
Leave about 2 inches (5 cm) space in between each dough strip to allow them room to puff.
The dough should give you enough to pipe 20-24 éclairs.

3) Slide both the baking sheets into the oven and bake for 7 minutes. After the 7 minutes, slip the
handle of a wooden spoon into the door to keep in ajar. When the éclairs have been in the
oven for a total of 12 minutes, rotate the sheets top to bottom and front to back. Continue
baking for a further 8 minutes or until the éclairs are puffed, golden and firm. The total baking
time should be approximately 20 minutes.

1) The éclairs can be kept in a cool, dry place for several hours before filling.

Pierre Hermé’s Cream Puff Dough
Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé
(makes 20-24 Éclairs)

• ½ cup (125g) whole milk
• ½ cup (125g) water
• 1 stick (4 ounces; 115g) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
• ¼ teaspoon sugar
• ¼ teaspoon salt
• 1 cup (140g) all-purpose flour
• 5 large eggs, at room temperature

1) In a heavy bottomed medium saucepan, bring the milk, water, butter, sugar and salt to the
2) Once the mixture is at a rolling boil, add all of the flour at once, reduce the heat to medium
and start to stir the mixture vigorously with a wooden spoon. The dough comes together very
quickly. Do not worry if a slight crust forms at the bottom of the pan, it’s supposed to. You
need to carry on stirring for a further 2-3 minutes to dry the dough. After this time the dough
will be very soft and smooth.
3) Transfer the dough into a bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or using your
handmixer or if you still have the energy, continue by hand. Add the eggs one at a time,
beating after each egg has been added to incorporate it into the dough.
You will notice that after you have added the first egg, the dough will separate, once again do
not worry. As you keep working the dough, it will come back all together again by the time you
have added the third egg. In the end the dough should be thick and shiny and when lifted it
should fall back into the bowl in a ribbon.
4) The dough should be still warm. It is now ready to be used for the éclairs as directed above.

1) Once the dough is made you need to shape it immediately.
2) You can pipe the dough and the freeze it. Simply pipe the dough onto parchment-lined baking
sheets and slide the sheets into the freezer. Once the dough is completely frozen, transfer the
piped shapes into freezer bags. They can be kept in the freezer for up to a month.

Chocolate Pastry Cream
Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by PierreHermé

• 2 cups (500g) whole milk
• 4 large egg yolks
• 6 tbsp (75g) sugar
• 3 tablespoons cornstarch, sifted
• 7 oz (200g) bittersweet chocolate, preferably Velrhona Guanaja, melted
• 2½ tbsp (1¼ oz: 40g) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1) In a small saucepan, bring the milk to a boil. In the meantime, combine the yolks, sugar and cornstarch together and whisk in a heavy‐bottomed saucepan.

2) 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.

3) Strain the mixture back into the saucepan to remove any egg that may have scrambled. Place the pan over medium heat and whisk vigorously (without stop) until the mixture returns to a boil. Keep whisking vigorously for 1 to 2 more minutes (still over medium heat).Stir in the melted chocolate and then remove the pan from the heat.

4) Scrape the pastry cream into a small bowl and set it in an ice‐water bath to stop the cooking process. Make sure to continue stirring the mixture at this point so that it remains smooth.

5) Once the cream has reached a temperature of 140 F remove from the ice‐water bath and stir in the butter in three or four installments. Return the cream to the ice‐water bath to continue cooling, stirring occasionally, until it has completely cooled. The cream is now ready to use or store in the fridge.

***I made the white chocolate pastry cream the same way except I used 6 oz of white chocolate instead of bittersweet chocolate because that is all that I had. If making white chocolate pastry cream I would advise you to add an extra tablespoon of cornstarch***
1) The pastry cream can be made 2‐3 days in advance and stored in the refrigerator.
2) In order to avoid a skin forming on the pastry cream, cover with plastic wrap pressed onto the cream.
3) Tempering the eggs raises the temperature of the eggs slowly so that they do not scramble.

Chocolate Glaze
Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé
(makes 1 cup or 300g)

• 1/3 cup (80g) heavy cream
• 3½ oz (100g) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
• 4 tsp (20 g) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces, at room temperature
• 7 tbsp (110 g) Chocolate Sauce (recipe below), warm or at room temperature

1)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.
2) Stirring gently, stir in the butter, piece by piece followed by the chocolate sauce.

1) 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.
2) 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.

Chocolate Sauce
Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé
(makes 1½ cups or 525 g)

• 4½ oz (130 g) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
• 1 cup (250 g) water
• ½ cup (125 g) crème fraîche, or heavy cream

• 1/3 cup (70 g) sugar

1) Place all the ingredients, except white chocolate 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.
2) 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.

1) 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.
2) This sauce is also great for cakes, ice-cream and tarts.

Assembling the éclairs:

• Chocolate glaze

• Melted white chocolate – for decorating white chocolate éclairs

• Chocolate Pastry Cream and White Chocolate Pastry Cream
1) Slice the éclairs horizontally, using a serrated knife and a gently sawing motion. Set aside the bottoms and place the tops on a rack over a piece of parchment paper.
2) The glaze should be barely warm to the touch (between 95 – 104 degrees F or 35 – 40 degrees C, as measured on an instant read thermometer). Spread the glaze over the tops of the éclairs using a metal icing spatula. Drizzle white chocolate on half of the tops. Allow the tops to set and in the meantime fill the bottoms with the pastry cream.
3) Pipe or spoon the pastry cream into the bottoms of the éclairs. Make sure you fill the bottoms with enough cream to mound above the pastry. For the white chocolate pastry cream, pipe into the bottoms and top with 4 fresh raspberries. Then place the glazed tops onto the pastry cream and wriggle gently to settle them.
1) If you have chilled your chocolate glaze, reheat by placing it in a bowl over simmering water, stirring it gently with a wooden spoon. Do not stir too vigorously as you do not want to create bubbles.
2) The éclairs should be served as soon as they have been filled.


14 Responses to “My First Challenge with The Daring Bakers’”

  1. Mary Says:

    Oh my–I made eclairs and your photos make me want to eat yours…I love the fresh raspberries! Congrats on your first challenge!

  2. CookiePie Says:

    Your eclairs are beautiful!! I love the flavors you chose (I certainly wouldn’t mind eating a messy white chocolate-raspberry eclair!). And your idea of marking the lines before you piped was so smart. Well done, and welcome to the DBers!

  3. Jalanda Says:

    Your pics are gorgeous! Well done!

  4. Angela Says:

    Welcome to the Daring Bakers! Your eclairs look amazing! The raspberries look so cute nestled into the chocolate pastry cream 🙂

  5. Lisa Says:

    Those are gorgeous! Welcome to the group 🙂

  6. Di Says:

    Great job on your first DB challenge! I love the one with raspberries and chocolate filling. That sounds absolutely delicious!

  7. Congratulations on completing your first DB Challenge.

    Great looking eclairs! The raspberries, white chocolate and the drizzle on top would have been my favorite too! 🙂

  8. Kirstynn Says:

    These belong in a BAKERY! Good job. They are beautiful. My glaze did not turn out that yummy!

  9. DrFaulken Says:

    These were incredibly awesome. I took a bunch to work and my co-workers nearly had an orgasm. The white chocolate and raspberry ones were gone first, but I did manage to hide a few for myself 😉

    Thanks for making these, they were SO GOOD!!

  10. Natalie Says:

    Looks delicious! Great job!

  11. Joanna Says:

    I simply love the variation you made on the traditional eclair. The raspberries add a beautiful contrast to the plain black + white eclair… way to go on your first DB challenge! You rocked it 🙂

  12. Apu Says:

    Welcome to Daring Bakers!!


  13. Marye Says:

    wow ..the eclairs look fabulous!

  14. […] browned enough and then when you take them out they deflate.  I have learned a few times, (Here), that you have to bake them just a little bit longer to dry them out to get the perfect eclair.  […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s