Mmmmhmm! Chocolate Éclairs. I was so excited I could hardly speak. And then I regained my composure and had visions! Oh such visions. I’d start the challenge by doing the recipe as given- chocolate pastry cream, chocolate glaze. Then I’d experiment! Raspberry pastry cream, chocolate glaze… lavender infused pastry cream, lemon glaze… A more savoury option perhaps- something with gruyere and chives? One thing was for sure- this month was going to be fun.
The challenge was hosted by Tony Tahhan and http://whatsforlunchhoney.blogspot.com/. The recipe chosen was Chocolate Éclairs by Pierre Hermé from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé with Dorie Greenspan. And boy oh boy, do they know how to do chocolate.
So anyway, that was the plan. I started nice and early in the month, with the double chocolate hit batch, to try and get into the swing of things. It was sort of easy… By which I mean that had I had the perfect equipment it’d have gone without a hitch- I know I know, a bad workman always blames his tools- My electric whisk only had one whisk. The other one went missing. I didn’t have a pastry bag or a ziploc bag or any of the standard pastry bag replacements. So what did I use? A plastic shopping bag. Good fun, very very messy. And the biggy- my oven. Now, my oven’s great. It cooks things super fast, so if you’re in a hurry it’s exactly what you want. But if you need the timings to be exact, it’s a bit iffy. And for éclairs, you need exact timing. Alas, my éclairs lacked the perfect shape and crispness of Vera’s. They were a bit more like Yorkshire Puddings- but thank goodness, I love Yorkshire Puddings. I didn’t mind that they weren’t ‘correct’.
Here they are;
The chocolate pastry cream tasted just like the bizarre chocolate custard you got in school dinners when you got a chocolate sponge… I had my ‘dieting’ friend around at the time, she was eating it by the spoonful.
And then the month went on, and plans changed- plans always change. Things came up, and then diets came up and I started to worry about my waistline. I considered not even trying again- but that’s madness. One more batch wouldn’t harm.
I asked my parents this time what they wanted in their éclairs. My dad requested ‘cream’. When I asked if he meant pastry cream or dairy cream he looked like I was speaking another language. Dairy cream it was then… For a little more fun I flavoured the cream with vanilla and a bit of sugar. These were very moreish.
I played around with this batch just a little- for one éclair (and one alone) I made some balsamic syrup, and cut up some strawberries into quarters, then I folded that into some dairy cream and filled one lucky éclair with it. And my word, I wished I’d done the whole batch like that. It was perfection in an éclair, tangy, sweet, fruity, chocolatey… Good heavens.
Sorry that second photograph is blurred. By the time I’d realised, the éclair had mysteriously disappeared…
Daring Bakers posts that are worthy of a mention:
JulieE made adorable swans
The Crepes of Wrath used sprinkles! Sprinkles make everything wonderful.
And Elle’s New England Kitchen put bacon a top her éclairs. Bacon and chocolate is still not a combination I’ve tried… but maybe one day? I salute her bravery.