Sunday, January 17, 2010

Eclairs for Nerds

I guess I've neglected to update my blog at all for quite a while. My mom scolded me, since she uses things like Facebook and this blog to keep up with me and see what I'm making.

I had intended to make eclairs a couple nights ago to go with the roast and homemade rolls I made for dinner, but the pastry cream I made was a new recipe and ended up entirely too thick to pipe into the shells. So, I bagged up the shells and froze them, waiting for the next opportunity to make some pastry cream. Tonight rolled around and it occurred to me that the boys I live with are having one of their D&D nights (they have 2 different groups, both bi-weekly, but on different weeks. Therefore, a game a week). I like to make the boys something and since I've neglected both groups on their last sessions, I figured they'd like eclairs.

Pâte à Choux
8 oz Water
3 oz Butter
1/4 t Salt
2 t Sugar
1 C Flour (AP or bread)
4 Eggs

Preheat oven to 425°F.
In a sauce pan bring the water, butter, salt and sugar to a boil. Add the flour and stir with a wooden spoon until the dough forms a ball and pulls away from the sides of the pan. There will also be a shiny residue on the bottom of the pan. Remove from heat and transfer the dough into a stand-mixer bowl. Beat it with a paddle attachment at a medium speed until it has slightly cooled. Add the eggs one at a time, letting each one incorporate, wipe down the sides. Place the dough into a pastry bag with a medium sized round tip (I used an Ateco 806) and pipe dough into 2-3 inch "fingers". Immediately put in the over and bake for 25 minutes, or until they are nicely golden. Poke holes in the ends of each shell to release steam and bake for another 5 minutes.

Pastry Cream
6 Egg yolks
100g Sugar
40g Cornstarch
500mL Milk
1 T Vanilla bean paste (equal amount extract)
2 T Butter

Heat the milk and half the sugar in a saucepan, bringing it to a scald (bubbles will for along the edge of the pan and a skin will form on the surface of the milk). While the milk is heating, whisk the eggs, remaining sugar and cornstarch in a large bowl. When the milk has come to a scald slowly pour about half of it into the egg mixture, whisking the eggs quickly and constantly. Pour the egg mixture into the remaining milk in the saucepan and stir with a rubber spatula constantly, scraping the sides and bottom. Bring it to a boil and then stir constantly for another 2 minutes. Remove from heat and add the vanilla and butter, stirring until the butter melts and the cream smooths out. Strain the cream into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap, resting the plastic directly on the surface of the cream. If you want the cream to chill more quickly, you can pour it onto a long piece of plastic wrap and wrap it into a flat square package. Chill the cream.

4 oz Dark Chocolate
4 oz Heavy Cream

Technically, you're supposed to heat the cream and pour it over the chocolate. I cut the chocolate into small bits, place it in a microwave safe bowl, add the cream to the bowl and microwave it for 30 seconds, then stir it until the ganache comes together. If there are any solid pieces of chocolate I microwave it for 10 additional seconds at a time.

To Assemble:
Poke a hole large enough to fit the very tip of a small, round decorating tip in the end of each eclair shell. Pipe chilled cream into each shell, you'll know it's full of cream because it will feel heavy for its size. After filling all the eclairs, dip the tops into slightly warm ganache, you want the it to still be very fluid. Place the eclairs in the fridge and chill until the ganache sets up. Then... EAT THEM. This makes about 24 eclairs.