Daring Bakers Challenge: Chocolate Eclairs

I still can't believe I'm a member of one of the coolest cliques on the 'net. For real.

It's Daring Bakers time! :)

This month's challenge was hosted by Meeta K of What's For Lunch Honey and Tony of Olive Juice. The challenge du jour was chocolate eclairs. Meeta chose a recipe from Pierre Hermé's book: Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé.

I am not particularly fond of eclairs. I really don't enjoy biting into dough filled with creams. As a matter of fact, someone brought in some Krispy Kreme doughnuts to work last night and I was afraid they'd all be custard or jelly-filled. I snagged a few (yeah, I should have only taken one) Original Glazed and was as happy as I could be.

Eclairs consist of 3 parts: Choux pastry or cream puff dough, pastry cream or creme patisserie filling, and a chocolate glaze. We had to use the choux pastry recipe (posted below), some element of chocolate, but we could get creative with the filling.

As creative as I am, I decided not to get creative with the filling and do a simple vanilla creme. Instead of the original chocolate glaze, I made a simple chocolate frosting.

The recipe also said to slice each eclair horizontally, then fill. I've never made eclairs that way, and I wasn't about to start today. I filled them the old fashioned way, by using my steel to "make a way for ducklings"and stuck in my piping tip to fill up the shell.

I was slightly disappointed we had to use this choux recipe because I keep choux in the freezer for special occasions and snacks. The chocolate icing was awesome. The choux really didn't taste that great. I don't know if it's because I halved the recipe or the recipe itself. The choux puffed like it was supposed to, and usually that's an indication something is amiss. I don't know Pierre, so I don't want to defenestrate his recipe, but...

Pierre Hermé’s Chocolate Éclairs
Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé (makes 12 Éclairs)

1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup water
1/2 stick (4 Tbsp) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/2 tsp Dixie Crystals Extra Fine Granulated Sugar
1/8 tsp salt
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 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.

Notes: Once the dough is made you need to shape it immediately. 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.

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 20minutes.
Notes: The éclairs can be kept in a cool, dry place for several hours before filling.

Vanilla Pastry Creme makes 2 cups

1 1/2 cups non-fat milk
1/2 cup Dixie Crystals Extra Fine Granulated Sugar
2 eggs
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Bring milk to simmer in heavy medium saucepan. Whisk sugar, eggs, egg yolk and flour in medium bowl to blend. Gradually whisk in hot milk. Transfer to saucepan. Whisk over medium heat until mixture thickens and comes to boil, about 5 minutes. Boil 1 minute. Pour into medium bowl. If eggs curdle or cook, pour mixture through a sieve or strainer before pouring into the medium bowl. Stir in vanilla. Press plastic onto surface of pastry cream to prevent a skin from forming. Cover; chill until cold, about 4 hours. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Keep chilled.)

Nik's Chocolate Icing

1/4 cup nonfat milk
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
2 Tbsp cocoa powder

In a small bowl, whisk all ingredients together. Refrigerate to firm up.

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About the author

Nikki Miller-Ka

Nikki Miller-Ka

Ms. Miller-Ka is a classically trained chef with a BA in English from East Carolina University and a Culinary Arts Associate Degree from Le Cordon Bleu-Miami.

Formerly, she’s worked as a researcher, an editorial assistant, reporter and guest blogger for various publications and outlets in the Southeast. She has also worked as a catering chef, a pastry chef, a butcher, a baker, and a biscuit-maker. Presently, she is a food editor, freelance food writer, and a tour guide for Taste Carolina Gourmet Food Tours.

Leave a reply

  1. They look quite good. I halved the recipe too but used almost 3 eggs & it tasted really good so maybe that was the difference.

  2. Looks like your eclairs turned out awesome Nik:D

  3. kat: I thought about using 3 eggs, but I was afraid it would have been too eggy or too light. I think I just really don't like eclairs :)

    Val: Thanks! I think they did, too.

  4. One day I'm gonna go ahead and join the clique...one day.

    Um, I saw the interview - you're looking good up there...keep doing ya thang!

  5. I am not that brave.....well done on your effort.The eclairs look delicious!!!!

  6. D: You should! It's a lot of fun. You could have a baking party at your spot :)

    Nina: Thanks you! I'm sure you could be adventurous! You make things I don't think I'd be brave enough to try. Or, I'd try them and fail miserably.

  7. Well done. A lot of people thought this one was eggy. I made another choux once that held up a little better from getting soggy. Nevertheless its fun to make.

  8. Your eclairs look great... and I even like how you kept it really simple, not that I was expecting avocado eclairs or anything :)

    I thought the recipe for DB was pretty good, and everyone loved them. Just remember, always eat it from the "hole end" or wear a shirt you don't care about

  9. Courtney: I know the challenge is supposed to be daring and all, but I really wish I could have used my frozen choux. It wouldn't have puffed up as pretty, I know, but I wish I could have saved those few eggs.

    Adam: I don't think I'll be eating these any time soon. The thought of biting into something that will squirt on me is too incredibly phallic and not something I want to deal with in public LOL

  10. These eclairs look wonderful!
    The funny thing is, I'm also not a fan of filled donuts...especially cream-filled...but I'm not bothered by eclairs for some reason.

    Making choux pastry does frighten me though, lol...but maybe one day I'll muster up enough courage. I'll have to check out your recipe for it...

  11. Thanks, Anaylli :) Yeah, the choux is directly from Julia Child and Simone Beck. I had nothing to do with that one.

  12. Props for using "defenestrate" in a food blog. I have wanted to throw cookbooks out the window myself from time to time.

  13. I like that you did a vanilla filling, I found all the chocolate overwhelming. Good call.
    Yes, we eat outside as much as possible. I live in Canada, summer is short!

  14. Peter: Thanks, man! Yeah, I think that's why I strike out on my own for the most part. If there is to be disappointment, I want it to be because of something I did, not something I blindly followed.

    Natashya: I am not really a chocolate fan (Well, I don't crave it in the middle of the night, at least). I bet you're feeling some fall weather right now...I just saw some leaves fall off a tree in North Carolina (where I live) today. That makes me sad.

  15. Your eclairs turned out great! I liked this challenge and thought they were yummy!


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