Thursday, 28 August 2008

Daring Bakers: Chocolate Eclairs

"Choux pastry? Pierre Herme?" my friend Jill commented. "How very daring."

And oh how right she was. I had told Jill of my upcoming eclair making, and she knows her way around her double boilers and cheese cloths enough to know that this would present a challenge. A Daring Baker challenge, in fact.


Making choux pastry is one of those fearful cooking acts, like rising a souffle or setting a custard, that can scare cooks to their jellied marrow. For me, though, the first challenge the pastry presented was in mi
xing it with my grandmother-inherited hand mixer. As it thickened up after each egg, I too slowly thought "I wonder if this will be too much for the old dear Kenwood". Up twirled the dense mixture as I tried valiantly (vainly) to switch the speed to high, and out poured the smoke and the bad, bad smell of a electric kitchen appliance dying. At least it went doing what it loved best (a moment's pause everyone, moment's pause).


The eclairs looked wonderful when I pulled them out of the oven...and then slightly less wonderful a minute or so later. Most, sadly, needed a wee bit longer in the oven and deflated into pathetic flattened fingers. Shoe pastry rather than choux pastry, though it did give me the excuse to 'test' a few in their natural state. Without the chocolate sauce or custard to round them out, I found them very, very eggy - able to stand having one or even 2 eggs left out of the recipe, I thought.

We were given the option to alter one of the two chocolate elements in the recipe, and so rather than having chocolate filling I thought I'd make good use of our bumper crop of raspberries (the rainy and grey British summer does have some uses) and turn out a raspberry pastry cream instead. I simply swapped out the melted chocolate for a small bowl full of raspberries, boiled with some water and sugar until they were just sweet and syrupy enough, and added this into the pastry cream mixture to turn it a lovely pink and leave Mr A&N in a state of pastry cream ecstasy.



Overall, the recipe was as simple as it could be given the art we were producing, and certainly less of an all-day marathon than other recent challenges, which was appreciated. The end result was wonderful, even if it did leave huge amounts of chocolate sauce in the fridge, which I'm still bravely eating on top of anything that might cope with it (gnocchi with chocolate sauce has been over-ruled this lunch time, though bananas with chocolate sauce stays on the menu). Thanks to Meeta and Tony for setting the challenge and letting us indulge our inner French pastry chefs. Pierre Herme, you shall be getting the bill for my new hand mixer.

20 comments:

April said...

Your raspberry cream sounds delicious in these!! They look gorgeous!

Oh my! Apple pie! said...

Your eclairs look lovely...raspberry cream sounds wonderful!

jasmine said...

Hee! Love the shoe pastry monicker :)

The pink creme is lovely--great flavour choice.


j

BC said...

Gnocchi with chocolate sauce - that is funny because I've tried that too. It wasn't good at all!

maybelle's mom said...

Oh, they look lovely.

Hannah said...

Mmm, raspberries go so well with chocolate, now I wish I had tried that sort of filling too!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Annamarie I love the raspberry cream! Excellent.

Claire said...

Did your cream actually taste of raspberries...mine did only faintly! Looks great.

Jude said...

Mmm raspberry cream. Chocolates and raspberry eclairs sound so delicious right now.

Heather said...

mmm, raspberries! yummo! these look lovely!

Jeanne said...

Oh dear - poor mixer! Oh well, time for that Kitchenaid then...!

Your eclairs look great despite the trials and tribulations, and I love the raspberry idea rather than chocolate overload.

And what's wrong with chocolate sauce on gnocchi?? :o)

Jenny said...

Hmm raspberries would make a nice filling, a balance to the sweetness of the glaze.

Mary said...

I had to smile at the "shoe pastry". Your eclairs turned out really pretty. I love the pink from the raspeberries.

Andrea said...

My first round of eclairs flattened, too. Your raspberry cream sounds absolutely perfect!

Tanya said...

Your eclairs look wonderful! I love chocolate and raspberry!

Heather said...

how beautiful! i love raspberry and chocolate!

silverrock said...

Wow! What raspberry pastry cream?! I've seen some bloggers simply use whole raspberries to decorate the eclairs, but this sounds amazing. Way to go on this month's challenge, the eclairs look stunning.

Gigi said...

The raspberry cream sounds divine! Work of art!

Margaret said...

Congratulations on a baking success. The eclairs look wonderful.

Anonymous said...

I was very surprised to read your reference to the difficulty of making choux pastry. Good thing I didn't know that when I made choux pastry for the first time as a young girl! Truly, it is a simple, fool proof operation, and I am so sorry that you venerable mixer was sacrificed. Choux dough is simply too wet and heavy for any machine. Making it is a one pan, stove top operation, requiring only a strong stirring arm. Beat by hand with a wooden spoon in pan over the stove - when the dough suddenly clings together in a big ball you are done.

Love the addition of raspberries to the pastry cream - heavenly taste, and visually so beautiful.