Sunday, August 31, 2008

Hazelnut Éclairs

























To my defense, I did warn that there could be a lack of posting around here. I gave my oven and taste-testing husband a break during this eventful month. There are plenty of you who travel frequently either for work or leisure much more often than I do, which honestly isn't all that often, and I don't know how you do it. I do love plane rides - yes, even the ones overseas - and I've always had a fascination with airports, but I'm not cut out for the jet-setter lifestyle.

A big reason why is because I'd miss everyday life within a community. I've mentioned before the joy I experience during the monthly women's prayer meetings, and well, my summer travel schedule made me unavailable for them. It's not just the prayer meetings, it's being available to spontaneously hang out with friends and family in the area. I feel like I've missed out on a lot of that this summer, and I could blame it on the little travel I did, or really, what could just be poor time management. All this really has nothing to do with hazelnut éclairs, but I do believe it has to do with baking and my blogging. See, I bake for others, it's how I show my love for people. And when I'm not as involved within my community, I'm not baking as often. If it weren't for the Daring Bakers, maybe I wouldn't have made these!

Thank goodness for the Daring Bakers, and the online community found there. Y'all have saved me from my slump, and I'm ready to get back into the swing of things. I used the praline paste recipe I discovered through last month's Filbert Gateau for a hazelnut cream filling, and the eclairs turned out just lovely. I'll bet my taste-tester is glad to be needed again.

Hazelnut Éclairs
adapted from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé

Pierre Hermé’s Cream Puff Dough
from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé

Ingredients:
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
5 large eggs, at room temperature

Directions:
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. 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. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. 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.
5. 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.
6. 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.

Chocolate Glaze
from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé
(makes 1 cup)

Ingredients:
1/3 cup heavy cream
3 1/2 bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
4 teaspoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces, at room temperature
7 tablespoons Chocolate Sauce (recipe below), warm or at room temperature

Directions:
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.

Chocolate Sauce
from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé
(makes 1 1/2 cups)

Ingredients:
4 1/2 bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup water
1/2 cup, or heavy cream
1/3 cup sugar

Directions:
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.

Hazelnut Cream
Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons praline paste (recipe below)

Directions:
1. Chill mixing bowl and paddle attachment in freezer for about 20 minutes.
2. Add cream, sugar, and praline paste to chilled bowl. Beat on low speed until small bubbles form, about 30 seconds. Increase speed to medium and continue beating until beaters leave a trail, about 30 seconds. Increase speed to high and continue beating until cream is smooth, thick, and nearly doubled in volume, about 30 seconds for stiff peaks.

Praline Paste
from Great Cakes by Carol Walter

Ingredients:
1 cup hazelnuts, toasted/skinless
2/3 cup sugar

Directions:
1. Put the sugar in a heavy 10-inch skillet. Heat on low flame for about 10-20 min until the sugar melts around the edges. Do not stir the sugar. Swirl the pan if necessary to prevent the melted sugar from burning.
2. Brush the sides of the pan with water to remove sugar crystals. If the sugar in the center does not melt, stir briefly. When the sugar is completely melted and caramel in color, remove from heat.
3. Stir in the nuts with a wooden spoon and separate the clusters. Return to low heat and stir to coat the nuts on all sides. Cook until the mixture starts to bubble.
3. Then spread evenly onto a jelly roll pan lined with parchment. As it cools, it will harden into brittle. Break the candied nuts into pieces and place them in the food processor.
4. Pulse into a medium-fine crunch or process until the brittle turns into a powder. To make paste, process for several minutes. Store in an airtight container and store in a cool dry place. Do not refrigerate.

Éclair Assembly

Directions:
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. Spread the glaze over the tops of the éclairs using a metal icing spatula. Allow the tops to set and in the meantime pipe the bottoms with the hazelnut cream.
3. Pipe the hazelnut 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.
4. Served the éclairs immediately after assembling.

10 comments:

Angela said...

Your éclairs look wonderful! I love the photograph, so elegant. And the hazelnut cream sounds absolutely dreamy!

aus_chick said...

these look so yummy!!!

Kirstynn Evans said...

They do look rather amazing, and how great that you incoprorate other challenges into eachother!

melissa said...

They are cute. And isn't the dough recipe great! I love it!

monkey said...

i want some!

andrew said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
andrew said...

i freaking love eclairs... i have many fond childhood memories of my dad bringing them home from a bakery in the bronx on his way home from work. they will always have a special place in my stomach.

andrew said...

i made a grammatical mistake and since there's no way to edit a comment i deleted and reposted. now it lets everyone know that the comment was removed by the author which makes things look far more scandalous than they really were. awkward.

tim said...

hey at least you owned up to it

Purple Dots Cupcake said...

Wow your Hazelnut Eclairs looks better than the ones I saw in the magazine the other day!