Archive | September, 2008

erm, please don’t kick me out of the club…

10 Sep

so, i’m a little late… ok, fine, a lot late… go ahead and say it: i am the worst daring baker ever.  but i really did make these before the due date… i just waited 2 weeks or so to post it…  better late than never? anyone?

in my defense, i’ve been so busy lately that i’ve pretty much been pulling my hair out.  which is a problem, because it takes up precious time that i should be devoting to other things.  like packing/unpacking my life, working like a crazy person, baking, and um, posting stuff.

i just moved, which i’m sure you don’t really care that much about, but i’m going to detail nonetheless. i’ve finally escaped the “bohemian” ghetto that is allston, ma (a scummy part of boston) and moved across the river to somerville.  this is upsetting only in that i am now technically in the burbs and will not be able to watch the rats frolick in my lawn anymore. har dee har.  ooh rats.  now i am surrounded by dogs frolicking in my lawn, and baby tiny children.  it is quite the experience to see children around as they tend to avoid downtown boston and allston (where, like dingos, the rats might eat yo baybay).  anywho, it’s a whole grand new adventure, and a very exciting one at that.

so the point is, moving takes a lot out of a girl.  and as a result, i have been the biggest slacker and failing on my posting/daring bakering duties.  please forgive me dbs and last month’s hosts tony and meetak!!  never again shall i let you down!  uh… until next month. cough.  (i’m a procrastinator! i can’t help who i am!)  the recipe they so cleverly and daringly chose (flattery: the ultimate tool for forgiveness) was for chocolate eclairs from chocolate desserts by pierre herme.  my lovely friend kor helped me on this challenge while i was back in georgia visiting my parents.  it was fun baking in my old house.  for one thing, there is air conditioning and a ceiling fan (both extremely glorious for summer baking.)  also, there is that element of danger… aka mom walking in mid-bake and discovering the mess.  (booooy is she a neat freak.)  only bad thing, i didn’t have my camera and was forced to use my father’s.  a clunky point and shoot, lord help me, with an attachable flash.  my skills do not extend this far.  (i am so bad with technology, it should be an actual handicap.)  also, did not even realize that there was a flash to attach… as a result, out of the 4 bazillion photos i took, about 3 were in focus.  pain. 

chocolate eclairs

step 1: cream puff dough:

• ½ cup (125g) whole milk
• ½ cup (125g) water
• 1 stick (4 ounces; 115g) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
• ¼ teaspoon sugar
• ¼ teaspoon salt
• 1 cup (140g) 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

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. once the dough is made you need to shape it immediately.

(usually long lines are the norm, but i decided to go with chubby balls. that’s because im daring.)

5) 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 20 minutes.

step 2: chocolate pastry cream

• 2 cups (500g) whole milk
• 4 large egg yolks
• 6 tbsp (75g) sugar
• 3 tablespoons cornstarch, sifted
• 7 oz (200g) bittersweet chocolate, preferably Velrhona Guanaja, melted
• 2½ tbsp (1¼ oz: 40g) 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.

step 3: chocolate sauce
(makes 1½ cups or 525 g)

• 4½ oz (130 g) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
• 1 cup (250 g) water
• ½ cup (125 g) crème fraîche, or heavy cream
• 1/3 cup (70 g) 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.

step 4: chocolate glaze
(makes 1 cup or 300g)

• 1/3 cup (80g) heavy cream
• 3½ oz (100g) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
• 4 tsp (20 g) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces, at room temperature
• 7 tbsp (110 g) Chocolate Sauce (recipe above), 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.

step 5: 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.

step 6: eat ’em up!!

1) pass out to neighbors, then gab about fun neighborhood stuff/dramas, then reflect on how fun it is to take treats to the neighbors and gab.