Monday, October 2

Paris Time: Chocolate Éclairs

I love watching TV series while I peel peanuts, my cat Romeo, morning fog, cherries, the smell of Christmas trees, my family -
But I as well love Paris.
Nothing overdramatic or something to exaggerate, but still a kind of special, distinctive feeling which I can not really explain. My tummy flips when I’m daydreaming about living there and I just simply want to be in Paris -

Well, maybe you’ve already noticed my count down here on the right… but in 24 days I will be on my way to Paris; city of lights and love, shopping paradise and gourmet walhalla (!)
I can’t wait to stroll down the Champs Elysee, taking the Paris metro, having some macarons again, sipping on my café au lait, exploring the different arrondissements a bit better and purchase some new winter fashion - which nobody will have here in Holland, wha-ha... -
I’m going for 3 days with my mum and sister and I can’t wait - (and it will be a true miracle if I will get to see and do everything that’s already on my list…)

I’ve only been 2 times in Paris, both for my birthday - when I was 10 and last year, for my 15th birthday. To get (even more) in the Paris mood, I decided to try and make éclairs. Chocolate éclairs.
I only have had 3 or 4 éclairs in my life; all in Paris at Fauchon, Maison du Chocolat and bakery Paul.
So the stakes and expectations were rather high…

Luckily the whole process went very smoothly and as you’ve already seen on the first photograph…
my own éclairs turned out beautifully and very delicious.
They are not quite yet in the same league as Fauchon’s, but this is truly a great recipe and it did give a real similar feeling as the one from last year…

I actually don’t really like custard or things filled with pastry cream - I’m not that keen on profiteroles or millefeuilles
but this cream filling - o my god
This pastry cream is different, slightly vanilla-infused and it is much lighter, as a result of adding whipped cream into the batter.
This is very nice, and will make it possible to devour 5 or 6 Éclairs easily without needing any pause…

It was a lot of work, definitely if you compare it with the time it took to gobble them down…, but all worth it.
And who knows…if things go as I want, maybe you can have one someday at JULIA instead of Fauchon… ;)

Chocolate Éclairs (makes 30)
Pâte à choux:

- 115g (1stick/½ cup) butter, cut into pieces
- 1 tsp sugar + ½ tsp salt
- 150g (1 ¼ cups) all-purpose flour
- 4 large eggs (plus 1 egg white, if needed - I didn’t need it)

Pastry cream:
- 500ml (2 cups) whole milk
- 100g (½ cup) sugar
- ½ vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds scraped (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
- pinch of salt
- 4 egg yolks
- 75g (¼ cup) cornstarch 2 Tbsp butter, cut into small pieces

Chocolate glaze:
- 170g (6 ounces) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
- 565ml (2 ¼ cups) heavy cream
- 1 Tbsp honey

1. Begin with the pastry cream:
In a medium saucepan, combine milk, half of the sugar, vanilla and salt.
Cook over medium heat until mixture comes to a simmer.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, cornstarch, and remaining sugar. Whisking constantly, slowly pour 100ml (½ cup) of the hot-milk mixture into the egg-yolk mixture. Continue adding milk (100ml/½ cup at a time) until it has been incorporated.

Pour mixture back into the saucepan, and cook over medium-high heat, whisking constantly, until it thickens.
Transfer to the bowl of an electric mixture fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the butter, and beat on medium speed until the butter melts and the mixture cools, about 5 minutes.

Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly onto the surface of the pastry cream to prevent a skin forming. Refrigerate until chilled, about 2 hours (or up to 2 days!) just before using, beat on low speed until smooth.

2. The pâte à choux:
Preheat oven to 210°C (425°F)
In a medium saucepan, combine butter, sugar, salt and 240ml (1 cup) water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, and immediately remove from heat. Using a wooden spoon, quickly stir in the flour until combined.
Return pan to medium-high heat, and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture pulls away from the sides, about 3 minutes.

Transfer mixture to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until slightly cooled, about 1 minute.
Increase the speed to medium, and add the whole eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated before adding the next. Test the batter by touching it with your finger and lifting to form a soft peak. If a soft peak does not form, the batter needs more egg. If you have added all the whole eggs and the batter still does not form a soft peak, lightly beat the remaining egg white, and add a little at a time.

3. Making Éclairs out of the pâte à choux:
Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. With a ruler and a pencil, mark lines about 8 cm (3 ½ inches) long on the parchment paper, spacing them about 5 cm (1 ½ inches) apart. I got 15 on my sheet.
Turn parchment paper over, marked sides down (otherwise your Éclairs will have little lines on their back…!)

Fill a pastry back with pâte à choux and pipe along the lines on the prepared baking sheets - about 1 cm (½ inch) thick. Gently smooth tops with a wet fingertip to ensure even rising.

Bake for 10 minutes and reduce oven temperature to 180°C (350°F).
Continue to bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until pastries are golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes more. Transfer pastries and parchment paper to a wire wrack to cool completely.

4. Make the chocolate glaze:
Place chocolate in a heatproof bowl. (large enough that an Éclair could fit in lengthwise)
Heat 190ml (¾ cup) cream and the honey in a small saucepan over medium heat until bubbles begin to appear around the edges, about 5 minutes. Pour mixture over the chocolate. Let stand for 5 minutes, then stir until smooth. Let cool, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes.

5. Filling the Éclairs:
With the same pastry tip (cleaned of course!) create a small hole on both sides of each shell.

Take the pastry cream out of the fridge and in a medium bowl, stir to soften.
In another bowl, whip the remaining 375ml (1 ½ cups) heavy cream to stiff peaks. Fold the whipped cream into the Pastry Cream in two batches to lighten.
Transfer to a pastry bag fitted with the same plain 1cm (½ inch) tip.
Insert the tip into the opening of each Éclair shell - both sides - and pipe to fill with the whipped pastry cream. You’ll feel when the Éclair is filled - you’ll feel pressure and the shell will be a lot heavier…

Dip the top of each Éclair into the chocolate glaze; let excess drip off, and place, coated sides up, on a wire rack set over a baking sheet.
Refrigerate Éclairs in a single layer in an airtight container until glaze is set, about 20 minutes or up to 2 days…


Robyn said...

Those eclairs look fantastic! I've never eaten an eclair I really liked, but I never ate a FRESH one. I think that's important, eh? If only I could have one of your...30? Jebus!

UnGourmetGal said...

You need to challenge Fauchon to an eclaire tete a tete, I haven't tried either version but yours sure look good. Have a great time in Paris!

Julia said...

thanks Robyn - o yes, a fresh one really makes all the difference(!) plus the filling is a bit different (- lighter) than the 'normal' éclair...
haha, 30 indeed...
whoops - sorry, they are all already gone…;)

hmmm...there's an idea(!) thank you ungourmetgal! =)

Brilynn said...

Wow! Great job!

Bonnie said...

These eclairs really do look amazing! Thanks for the recipes, I'll certainly be adding them!

Have fun in Paris!!!

Natalia said...

I feel the same way about cream filled desserts. I always chose cake, or pie, or cookies over cream puffs. But your cream filling sounds delicious. I'll have to try it.

jenjen said...

Making eclair is no easy feat, well dome. These look amazing and I bet they tasted just as good!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Magnifiques tes éclairs! Je mordrais bien dans l'un d'eux!!!

Julia said...

thanks Brilynn!

Hi Bonnie - yes, I’m so looking forward; can hardly wait till Paris! =)

Hi Natalia - yes, why cream filling if you can have ganache?? But this was indeed the first one I really liked...(maybe because I made it myself?)
Let me know what you think about it! =)

Thanks for your sweet comment JenJen!

Merci beaucoup Rosa! =)

AK said...

I want one! No, I take it back. I want all 30. For Myself. :-)

Corianne said...

Woahhhhh Goed gedaan!!!!

Julia said...

haha LOL - thanks for your nice comment Alanna!

hoi corianne - dank je wel! =)

burcu said...

Vow! Your eclairs look so awesome! I wish I could find eclairs here States :(