February 13, 2010

Vanilla Eclair

I don't think I have mentioned it yet, but I have picked up a new passion-- guitar! I'm not going to lie, my passion stems directly and 100% from my obsession with Green Day. The first and only time prior that I've touched a guitar was back in college when my dorm friend let me borrow his guitar to try. Then, I learned to read the tabs and tried my hand at "Good Riddance" for the first time. The phase didn't last long enough for me to even learn the first measure of the song. But this time around, after about 3 days of playing, I can strum the whole "Good Riddance" without the music! I'm currently borrowing my guitar from my cousin Edward, but I really hope I can get my own in the future. I have my eye set on seagull's acoustic!

Tomorrow, mom's friend's coming over for coffee, so I was assigned the task to make desserts for the occasion. I've longed to try Eclairs for a long time, because in my mind, it is one of those fancy french pastry that would break one's wallet. A bit of exaggeration.. regardless, it's fancy. But the appeal of Pierre Herme's recipe gave me the confidence to finally try it!

Vanilla Eclair

Pierre Hermé’s Cream Puff Dough
(from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé & Tartelette)

(makes 20-24 eclairs)
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

In a heavy bottomed medium saucepan, bring the milk, water, butter, sugar and salt to theboil.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 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. 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 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.The dough should be still warm. It is now ready to be used for the éclairs as directed above.

Helen's Notes: Once the dough is made you need to shape it immediately. 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 the piped shapes into freezer bags. They can be kept in the freezer for up to a month.

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 below), warm or at room temperature

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.Stirring gently, stir in the butter, piece by piece followed by the chocolate sauce.
Notes: 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.
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
 (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

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.

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.

Notes: 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.
This sauce is also great for cakes, ice-cream and tarts.

Vanilla Filling
(from Carol

a: milk 160g, vanilla extract 1 teaspoon
b: egg yolk 1, sugar 40g
c: milk 20g, cake flour 10g, corn flour 5g
d: unsalted butter 15g
e: heavy cream 100g, sugar 10g
  1. In a bowl, bring the milk and vanilla extract to a boil on low heat.
  2. In another bowl, slightly beat together egg yolks and sugar.
  3. In a third bowl, mix together the milk, cake flour and corn flour.
  4. add ingredient C mixture to ingredient B mixture and mix well. 
  5. slowly add the boiled ingredient a mixture to the C/B mixture and stir at the same time as you pour it in.
  6. Put it back onto the stove and cook on low heat until the mixture thickens.
  7. add and dissolve the butter into mixture and let cool.
  8. beat the heavy cream and sugar to a stiff peak and add it to the cooled custard mixture.
  9. store in the fridge until use.
To assemble the eclairs:

Slice the shells in half and pipe enough vanilla fillings to make a sandwich. Brush the top of the shell with the chocolate glaze and you can sprinkle a little chopped almond or other nuts on top for decoration.


  1. I usually feel indifferent about eclairs, but the ones that you made were really good! It wasn't overly filled with cream like most of the ones I've had and the pastry part was crisp and toasty, which I like!

  2. @lubs. I'm so happy to hear that.. every chef's motivation is to get praised. Go on msn, I need your help on something.