So this month's challenge was brought to us by 2 special bloggers...Meeta K from "What's for lunch Honey?" and Tony from "antoniotahhan.com"
I have been blogging now for a little while, but before this I was heavily viewing tons of food blogs and a lot of them shared a common thread.
The infamous Pierre Herme!
I had stumbled across his name the first time when I hit Helen's from "Tartelette" blog. She had raved about his creativity and refined French pastries.
So you could only imagine my excitement when lovely Meeta picked these amazing éclairs.
Éclairs are close to my heart, and not because they pass by on the way to my stomach ;)
No, éclairs have a very specific memory for me. My wonderful Nan, who has now gone on to bigger and better things could never resist a chocolate éclair. The funny thing was she had Diabetes type 2...ok, ok, a lot of you are like WHAT!! there is no way that woman should have been eating things like that, that's not funny... but it was when you saw the 2 ends of her mouth curl up in this mischievous smile like she was about to have world domination and nobody knew except her.
My Bampy (grandfather), who is with my Nan along for the ride...used to go to this Italian store, where they specialized in tantalizing desserts and always came home with a custard horn for me and my sister, a rum baba or something equally decadent for himself and of course the prized chocolate eclair for my Nan.
I wanted to share this small memory with all of you or how ever many there are of you reading this, because I think one important thing about food whether sweet or savory is the memories you have or the moments you share and treasure around food.
So I dedicate this post to my Nanny and Bampy who were always there for me, only wanted happiness for me and never let me give up on my hopes and dreams..
For you Nan! cause now wherever you are I hope there is huge table of all you can eat chocolate eclairs, cause you deserve it...and don't forget to share with Bamps!
Pierre Hermé’s Chocolate Éclairs:
Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé(makes 20-24 Éclairs)
Assembling the éclairs:
• Chocolate pastry cream (see below for recipe)
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.
1) If you have chilled your chocolate glaze, reheat by placing it in a bowl over simmering water,stirring it gently with a wooden spoon. Do not stir too vigorously as you do not want to create bubbles.
2) The éclairs should be served as soon as they have been filled.
Pierre Hermé’s Cream Puff Dough:
from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé(makes 20-24 Éclairs)
• 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 boil.
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.
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.
6) 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.
7) 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.
The éclairs can be kept in a cool, dry place for several hours before filling.
Chocolate Pastry Cream:
from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé
1) Once the dough is made you need to shape it immediately.
2) 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.
Chocolate Pastry Cream:
from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé
• 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.
1) The pastry cream can be made 2‐3 days in advance and stored in the refrigerator.
2) In order to avoid a skin forming on the pastry cream, cover with plastic wrap pressed onto the cream.
3) Tempering the eggs raises the temperature of the eggs slowly so that they do not scramble.