9th Daring Bakers Challenge – Chocolate Élairs

31 August, 2008 at 12:36 am | Posted in » Daring Bakers, » Recipes, » Pastry | 4 Comments
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Hi All! It’s that time of the month again and this month we are going French!

Hosted by Tony of Tony Tahhan and Meeta of What’s for Lunch Honey?, they have chosen a recipe from Chocolate Desserts By Pierre Hermé, a cookbook written by Dorie Greenspan, Chocolate Éclairs by Pierre Hermé.

Some information on Éclair taken from Wikipedia. The Éclair is originated in France during the nineteenth century. The work is first attested both in English and in French in the 1860s. Some food historians speculate that the Éclairs were first made by Anotonin Carême (1784 – 1833), the famous French chef. The first known English-language recipe for Éclairs appears in the Boston Cooking School Cook Book by Mrs. D.A. Lincoln, published in 1884.

A Éclair is a long, thin pastry made with choux pastry or cream puff dough filled with a cream and topped with icing. The dough is piped into an oblong shape with a pastry bag and baked until it is crisp and hollow inside. Once cool, the pastry then is filled with a pastry cream, custard or whipped cream and topped with fondant icing of the same flavour as the filling.

For this month challenge, we are given alot of space to play around as long as we use the choux pastry recipe provided and keep one of the chocolate element, i.e the chocolate glaze and/or the chocolate pastry cream.

Being a chocoholic, I kept two of the chocolate elements but i omit the chocolate sauce that is supposed to be added into the chocolate glaze. And on top of that, I have added some chopped peanuts on top of the glaze. I simply love the taste of this recipe! It’s so chocolaty and yummy…

This recipe is relative simple, but I had some trouble making the chocolate glaze. When I added the butter in the glaze, there are alot of oil being produced and I have to pour away some and stir over low heat to combine them… thus I could not make a smooth glaze…

Remember to drop by other DBers’s blogs for their take on this here.

Cream Puff Dough

Makes 20 – 24 Éclairs

1/2 cup (125 grams) whole milk
1/2 cup (125 grams) water
1 stick (4 ounces; 115 grams) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (140 grams) 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 boil.

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.

Baking Éclairs

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 4-1/2 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.

Assembling the éclairs:

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. 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. 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.

Chocolate Pastry Cream


2 cups (500 grams) whole milk
4 large egg yolks
6 tbsp (75 grams) sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch, sifted
7 oz (200 grams) bittersweet chocolate, preferably Velrhona Guanaja, melted
2-1/2 tbsp (1-1/4 oz, 40 grams) 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.

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

Makes 1 cup or 300 grams

1/3 cup (80 grams) heavy cream
3-1/2 oz (100 grams) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
4 tsp (20 grams) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces, at room temperature
7 tbsp (110 grams) 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

Makes 1-1/2 cups or 525 grams

4-1/2 oz (130 grams) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup (250 grams) water
1/2 cup (125 grams) crème fraîche, or heavy cream
1/3 cup (70 grams) sugar


1. Place all the ingredients 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.

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