Sunday, August 31, 2008

Daring Bakers: Cream Puffs!

I'm not quite sure what I was thinking with this month's Daring Baker's challenge. I think that I was high and believed myself to be Miss Creative :P ... because I decided to try my hand at fiddling with the recipe A LOT (see my modifications in red)! Instead of the traditional chocolate pastry cream, as called for in the original recipe, I opted for an adzuki bean pastry cream. This was actually a tasty swap! I loved the richness of the adzuki flavor and the use of beans added a unique texture to the cream which was a delightful surprise. And I followed the DB guideline for this Blog Event by using chocolate in at least one of my components... white chocolate that is! Smarty-pants me :P I used white chocolate and matcha to flavor the ganache. With the Matcha-chocolate glaze being just as tasty as the Adzuki Pastry cream I thought that this was going to be one easy challenge... as long as I didn't screw up the Choux Dough. Surprisingly, I didn't burn/char the dough and they rose and filled beautifully with my cream. So, you may be asking what's the big problem?! and Why don't my cream puffs look enticing?! Well, I just don't have an answer for you! I really think I did my best and still, my best didn't turn up a beautiful looking cream puff... sorry guys. Instead of a lucious, drool-producing opening photo, I have only the sad Pinocchio-nose like dinky looking ug-puff to show you :(... oh well, at least they tasty good.

Look at the beautiful pastry cream piped into the shells.

Look at the lovely pastry shells

Pierre Hermé’s Chocolate Éclairs
(Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé)
Yields: 20-24 Éclairs)

• Cream Puff Dough (see below for recipe), fresh and still warm
1) Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Divide the oven into thirds bypositioning the racks in the upper and lower half of the oven. Line two baking sheets withwaxed 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 thehandle of a wooden spoon into the door to keep in ajar. When the éclairs have been in theoven for a total of 12 minutes, rotate the sheets top to bottom and front to back. Continuebaking for a further 8 minutes or until the éclairs are puffed, golden and firm. The total bakingtime should be approximately 20 minutes.Notes:1) The éclairs can be kept in a cool, dry place for several hours before filling.

Assembling the éclairs:
• Chocolate glaze (see below for recipe)
• Chocolate pastry cream (see below for recipe)
1) Slice the éclairs horizontally, using a serrated knife and a gently sawing motion. Set aside thebottoms 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 – 40degrees C, as measured on an instant read thermometer). Spread the glaze over the tops ofthe éclairs using a metal icing spatula. Allow the tops to set and in the meantime fill thebottoms with the pastry cream.
3) Pipe or spoon the pastry cream into the bottoms of the éclairs. Make sure you fill the bottomswith enough cream to mound above the pastry. Place the glazed tops onto the pastry creamand 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 createbubbles.
2) The éclairs should be served as soon as they have been filled.

Pierre Hermé’s Cream Puff Dough
(Yield: 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 theboil.
2) Once the mixture is at a rolling boil, add all of the flour at once, reduce the heat to mediumand start to stir the mixture vigorously with a wooden spoon. The dough comes together veryquickly. Do not worry if a slight crust forms at the bottom of the pan, it’s supposed to. Youneed to carry on stirring for a further 2-3 minutes to dry the dough. After this time the doughwill be very soft and smooth.
3) Transfer the dough into a bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or using yourhandmixer 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 donot worry. As you keep working the dough, it will come back all together again by the time youhave added the third egg. In the end the dough should be thick and shiny and when lifted itshould 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.

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 bakingsheets and slide the sheets into the freezer. Once the dough is completely frozen, transfer thepiped shapes into freezer bags. They can be kept in the freezer for up to a month.

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 (substitute same weight in sweetened adzuki bean paste), 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.

Chocolate Glaze
(makes 1 cup or 300g)
• 1/3 cup (80g) heavy cream
• 3½ oz (100g) bittersweet chocolate (substitute white chocolate), finely chopped
• 4 tsp (20 g) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces, at room temperature
• 7 tbsp (110 g) Chocolate Sauce (recipe below), 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.

1) If the chocolate glaze is too cool (i.e. not liquid enough) you may heat it briefly
 in the microwave or over a double boiler. A double boiler is basically a bowl sitting over (not touching) simmering water.
2) It is best to glaze the eclairs after the glaze is made, but if you are pressed for time, you can make the glaze a couple days ahead of time, store it in the fridge and bring it up to the proper temperature (95 to 104 F) when ready to glaze.

Chocolate Sauce
(Yield: 1½ cups or 525 g)
• 4½ oz (130 g) bittersweet chocolate (substitute white 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.

1) You can make this sauce ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator for two weeks. Reheat the sauce in a microwave oven or a double boiler before using.
2) This sauce is also great for cakes, ice-cream and tarts.

Well, even if the puffs didn't turn out as lovely as some others out there, at least I try my hand at doing something different! Still, maybe next month I'll stick more closely to the recipe.


Eat4Fun said...

Hi! Good job completing the challenge. Matcha glaze actually sounds good.

Camille said...

I love the different ingredients: matcha, azuki beans and white chocolate. I bet they tasted really yummy!

Bronwyn said...

What a great idea of flavors! And thanks for checking out my post... I guess I did get carried away, but that happens when I start browsing through Julia's cookbook! I hope I can keep it up for future challenges.

Anonymous said...

I suppose appearance is part of the whole food appeal. However, they sound delicious, and if you say they were... then it is a hit. 5 Stars!

PS I have a great camera that I went hungry for weeks to afford. I would not trade the photos of my kids and food for anything in this world.

Audax Artifex said...

I think you are being too hard on yourself. Remember the eclairs you see in the shops aren't choux and are loaded with chemical tricks so are almost impossible to reproduce at home. I think your recipe is one of the MOST interesting of all the DBs puffs I've seen. Who would of thought of azuku beans and white chocolate. Maybe with a little twinking of the recipe you can get exactly the results you wanted. They look fine to me.

Emilie Tytenicz said...

How creative! I'd try one of your Pichochio eclairs in a heartbeat.

Anonymous said...

These look gorgeous! I love the addition of azuki beans!! Mmmmm...A lover of bean paste myself, I'll have to try that!

Nice job! :)

Jessica said...

These look great. You are so much braver than me!

Diane said...

Your eclairs don't look as bad as you think. The flavour combinations sound interesting delicious.

Two thumbs up for being daring and modifying the recipe. I think that's what a daring baker is all about.

chtiteriri said...

Yours éclairs are so beautifut, I'm so jealous!!!
Congratulations, you choose good ingredients and I suppose it's very delicious.
I think I have to make your recipe because they look georgeous!!!

Argus Lou said...

They are beyond creative. They're absolutely post-modern Nipponish eclairs. Congrats!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Your Eclairs look beautiful and perfect! Great job!



An Apron Straitjacket said...

I bow to your mad pipping skills! They look beautiful!

Shelly Hattan said...

My puffs came nice and puffy but they flattened out as they cooled (and I cooled them on a metal screen!)

Interesting choice on the azuki beans and white chocolate!

Lisa Michelle said...

Gorgeous, especially the perfect pastry cream. Your comment was so sweet, but believe me, it would be more likely we'd see YOURS in a top patisserie in Paris! :)

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Penny said...

I think your eclairs are beautiful!
The combination of flavours sounds very interesting and delicious.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the comment! Your challenge looks AMAZING. I love, love, love matcha and adzuki beans. I'm wondering now if I couldn't have done something with taro... hmmm.

However, I doubt I'll make eclairs again. Maybe some taro cupcakes are in order?


Your choux pastry looks fantastic, too!

Elizabeth B. said...

They look cute, and even more important (to me) they sound like they taste amazing. Mmmm.

Anonymous said...

awesome creativity!!!! your eclairs look great :)

Shirley said...

Your cream looks tasty! Happy Malaysia Day (I was looking at your post above). I didn't know when it was, and shame on me -- my mom was born in Malaysia. Love your flavor combos on the eclairs too.

Regina said...

Your choux shells look beautiful - plus, your idea for the adzuki filling is very creative. I think I actually might prefer this to a chocolate-filled eclair!

MichaM said...

Very creative! The Azuki paste sounds like a really yummy swap!

kathryn said...

Your eclairs look great! I also enjoyed reading your other posts!

Debyi said...

Your eclairs look yummy to me. Even more so when I read the adzuki bean filling and white chocolate matcha glaze. How did you know that those were my favorites!?!

Christy said...

Adzuki bean pasttu cream paired with white chocolate glaze must have tasted divine!! I love how you've piped the filling onto the eclairs too!! Good job!

April said...

Your variation sounds delicious! They look fantastic!

oonsky said...

You're a star! Who would have thought matcha and azuki beans would fill a choux? Love it! Good on ya!

Jenny said...

Nah, I think it is the color only ,cause if you can get past the green on top, those cream puffs look great! Nice shape, nice filling, even the glaze on top is a good consistency and not too overwhelming.
The flavor combination sounds good to me, and I've never had azuki beans before.

Joy said...

Wow - so creative! I would never have thought of using aduki beans - yum!

Kristianna said...

Those look DELICIOUS!

Teenie said...

Your pastry shells look great. How did you like the white chocolate substitute? You are truly a daring baker and I aspire to be a better one. You are creative trying the azuki beans and white chocolate ... I will need to work on being more creative and daring too! :)

imasize6 said...

Your eclairs look absolutely gorgeous! Good choice for the filling :)