Sunday, August 31, 2008

How bout Choux?

Contest alert! Please check out fellow Daring Baker Amber from Of Chocolate and Mangoes! She was the winner of my pay it forward contest and now she's giving away her own prize pack. Leave a comment on this post of hers to enter to win!

I have to admit I was a bit disappointed when I first saw the Daring Baker's August challenge. It's not that I don't love eclairs, it's just that it's one of the first recipes I ever mastered, way back in high school. So while these were tasty, they weren't challenging, and I love DBs because they usually make me stretch my boundaries. I was glad not to make another cake, but in the end, the pile of dishes in my sink wasn't really worth it. However, the happy smiles on fellow teachers faces on our stressful first day of classes was rewarding!

Here, dark chocolate pairs with fragrant mandarin orange cradled in a light eggy choux. These are so rich that you'll want to make minis, and if you're like me, you'll prefer them without the chocolate glaze, which I think is a little too over-the-top chocolately with everything else. You'll notice I've made some changes to the techinques in the recipe, since there's really no need to overcomplicate things as much as Pierre Hermes has. For the original recipe, see our gracious hosts, Meeta and Tony.

Chocolate Orange Mini-Éclairs

Pâte À Choux

1 cup 1% milk
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces
¼ teaspoon sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
5 large eggs, at room temperature

In a heavy bottomed medium saucepan, bring the milk, water, butter, sugar and salt to a boil.

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.

Continue stirring by hand (Use those muscles!), but remove from the heat. 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, that's OK. As you keep working the dough, it will come back all together again. In the end the dough should be thick and shiny and still warm. Empty into a piping bag or ziploc bag with a hole in one corner.

Preheat oven to 375 F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Pipe 1 inch thick lines across the paper in rows (these can be close together - try to fit them all on one sheet. Place in the freezer until mostly frozen. Use a pizza cutter to cut small éclairs, about 3 1/2 inches long. Separate éclairs onto the two baking sheets, spacing them 2 inches apart. Bake immediately!

To bake: Arrange oven racks to divide the oven in thirds. Place a sheet on each rack. Spritz the sides of the oven with water. Bake with the door closed 7 minutes, then mist the walls again and prop it open with a wooden spoon for 5 minutes. Rotate pans and change their shelves and bake for another 8 minutes with the door propped open, until golden and firm. Don't expect them to really puff up, these are traditional French éclairs, which are relatively flat.

When you remove these from the oven, immediately use a skewer to make a 1/2 inch hole in each side, allowing access to the hollow interior and preventing steam from building up inside and making them soggy. Let cool on a baking rack.

Chocolate Orange Pastry Cream

3/4 cups 1 % milk
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 egg yolks
3 Tbsp sugar
1/2 Tbsp cornstarch
1 Tbsp Grand Marnier
finely grated zest of one mandarin orange
3.5 oz. chopped bittersweet chocolate (I like Scharrfen Berger 70%)
1 1/4 Tbsp unsalted butter

Combine all ingredients except butter in the top of a double boiler over an inch of water in the bottom pot. As the water in the bottom comes to a boil, stir the rest of the ingredients, allowing them to simmer and thicken. After about 2 minutes of simmering, remove to an ice bath.

When the temperature of the pastry cream has dropped to 140 F, stir in the butter in four additions. Let cool completely.

Chocolate Ganache

1/3 cup heavy cream
3 1/2 oz. bittersweet chocolate
1 Tbsp Grand Marnier
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp butter

Melt all glaze ingredients together in a double boiler. Let cool until almost room temperature.


Fill a pastry bag fitted with a small tip with pastry cream. Insert tip into the hole on one side of the éclair, opening the éclair up as much as possible, and squeeze to fill the cavity. Repeat on the other side. Repeat for all éclairs. Use an icing spatula to spread éclairs with lukewarm ganache. Serve within 24 hours.

What to do with the remaining choux and ganache? Make profiteroles with homemade ice cream!

Tiramisu Profiteroles

For each:
one cream puff shell, sliced open at the top
2 Tbsp tiramisu ice cream
1 Tbsp melted ganache

Stuff each cream puff shell with ice cream. Drizzle with ganache. Impress guests with your magical abilities! :)


Cynthia's Blog said...

I thought we needed a break after the last challenge so this one was welcome for me. I loved the orange presentation on your post. I was glad we didn't get a cake too.

Amber said...

Hi Dana, gorgeous, gorgeous photos. I didn't think of chocolate and orange but it is perfect. And I love your insides. Well not your insides, the insides of your eclairs in the last photo, they look creamy and luscious. I have missed your daily posts. Thanks for the link for the contest. Have a great week.

Cristine said...

Your eclairs look divine! YUM!

Anonymous said...

love the photos with the orange slice!

Mike of Mike's Table said...

I've never made eclairs (or worked with choux, actually), so its interesting to see all of the different takes and tips on how to do these. These look delicious...and talk about a great use of leftovers!

P said...

wow! What a treat to start the year. obviously you're out of the gate running on ganache!

JadeKitsune said...

*laughs* I think magical abilities sums it up nicely. The pictures look fantastic.

On an unrelated note, I enjoyed your lime tribute back in May!

I ran across it during an image search for Thai tea. Your delightful recipes and pictures enchanted me.

Beautiful work!


Lauren said...

i love chocolate and orange- great idea!

Proud Italian Cook said...

I'll take your tiramisu profiterole's any old day!!

Tammy said...

gorgeous photos! fingers crossed September will be more challenging for you!

jo said...

What a great combination - chocolate and orange. You can't go wrong with this and I do love your pics!

Amy J. said...

Dude, you have some awesome combinations going on there! Great job! :)

Angela said...

Mmmm... mandarin orange. What a perfect flavour combination!

Your eclairs look divine and I love your profiteroles with tiramisu ice-cream!

Ann said...

Beautiful work!

Jen said...

I agree that the challenge recipe was rather more complicated than it needed to be... I love your idea of adding an orange flavor to the chocolate- I found it just too chocolatey but the fruit flavor would have really helped.

Kirstynn Evans said...

I was so looking forward to your post on Eclairs! I should have known you were an Eclair expert! Yummy!

Ruth said...

Your eclairs and photos are beautiful.

Colloquial Cook said...

Gosh I wish you were in my teaching team :-) your title pun suggests you master French!Do you teach it?

una donna dolce said...

Thanks everyone!

Amber - I will be posting more often as I settle in at school

Lauren - my dog looks just like yours!

Colloquial Cook - I actually teach science. I took some French in high school but I never was very good. I prefer to cook French rather than cook it.

the southern hostess said...

These look gorgeous! Your photos are beautiful!

Jaime said...

mmmm they look great. i wasn't disappointed w/this challenge, just relieved :) it was nice to take a break one month and do something not so new! plus i got to try another choux recipe.

i love the combo of orange and chocolate, that was a great idea! and the tiramisu profiteroles - genius!

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