Sunday, August 31, 2008

Daring Bakers: Lavender and Chocolate Eclairs

This month's Daring Bakers challenge presented Eclairs with either chocolate pastry creme or glaze.  Now I have already sung the praises of pate-a-choux on this blog, and been down the road of chocolate pastry creme, so I felt that to spice this challenge up, I'd have to fine an amazing yet unusual accompaniment to chocolate with which to make my pastry creme.  I decided I'd take on making a lavender pastry cream. I like the flavor of lavender but haven't had the courage to use it in much. I decided the (free) buds from the plant outside would be easier to work with then essential oil. While lavender essential oil is edible, I was scared i would over flavor the dish.

I made a very small batch-5 eclairs in all- and was worried the pate a choux might not work scaled down so much, but it worked out fine. I was even able to bake them in my toaster oven, which sounds sacrilegious, but is endorsed by eric ripert, so it must be ok. I made the chocolate glaze without including the chocolate sauce part of the recipe (see below), and it was fantastic.

Thanks to MeetaK and Tony Tahhan, our hosts for a great challenge. Check out all the daring bakers work here.

Chocolate Eclairs
from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Herme

• 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 by
positioning the racks in the upper and lower half of the oven. Line two baking sheets with
waxed 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 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.

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 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 or 35 – 40
degrees C, as measured on an instant read thermometer). Spread the glaze over the tops of
the éclairs using a metal icing spatula. Allow the tops to set and in the meantime fill the
bottoms with the pastry cream.

3) Pipe or spoon the pastry 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.

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 create

2) The éclairs should be served as soon as they have been filled.

Pierre Hermé’s Cream Puff Dough
Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé
(makes 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 the

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, 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 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. 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 baking
sheets 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 Pastry Cream
Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by PierreHermé

• 2 cups (500g) whole milk
• 4 large egg yolks
• 6 tbsp (75g) sugar
• 3 tablespoons cornstarch, sifted
• 7 oz (200g) bittersweet chocolate, 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
Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé
(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

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
Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé
(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

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.

Lavender Pastry Creme
from Art Culinaire, Spring 06

16 ounces milk
1 tablespoon dried lavender flowers
5 egg yolks
3 ounces granulated sugar
3/4 ounce all-purpose flour
3/4 ounce cornstarch
1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped

In saucepan, bring milk and lavender to simmer. Remove from heat, let sit 10 minutes and strain through fine-mesh sieve. Return milk to scald. In bowl, whisk together yolks, sugar, flour, cornstarch and vanilla. Temper egg mixture by adding one-third of hot milk to it while whisking constantly. Whisk tempered egg mixture back into remaining hot milk and place over medium heat, stirring constantly until mixture is thick enough to coat back of wooden spoon. Strain through fine-mesh sieve and cool over ice water bath. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.


Patti said...


Heather B said...

wow...I'm jealous! I scaled mine down to 5 too but mine were a disaster. I'm glad yours turned out so well! Great job!

How To Eat A Cupcake said...

Ooohh lavender... interesting! :)

Marija said...

Lavender is great! Love your eclairs! Great job!

Cheryl said...

I love the idea of using lavender. Yum!

tanya said...

Beautiful! I halved my recipe and only got 8, which was perfect for me. I really like the lavender pastry cream!

Gabi said...

Beautiful! Wow lavender is a great idea for these-mmmm!

Patricia said...

I love the lavender idea. And your photos are great!
By the way, regarding your comment on my post, I didn't in any way mean to say that mine were as good as those from Tartine Bakery. I only wish I could be at that level! I updated my blog post to make that more clear.

StickyGooeyCreamyChewy said...

Your eclairs look lovely! That chocolate/lavender combination sounds wonderful too! Very well done!

Robyn said...

Lavender sounds very interesting, great job!

Natalie... said...

mmm lavender :) yumm.
yours look excellent :)

HoneyB said...

Great job for the toaster oven! :) I have seen many with lavender pastry cream and it looks lovely!

jen said...

beautiful! I love lavender

Jen said...

Lavender and chocolate-now that's a combination I never would have thought of. Great job on the challenge.

Joey Biscotti said...

Lavender sounds wonderful! I'll bet these tasted fabulous

Lauren said...

Mmm, your eclairs look amazing! Lavender sounds great!!

Vera said...

Lauren, lavender pastry cream sounds delicious!

Andrea said...

Oh wow, these look amazing with the lavender. I just bought some cooking lavender for the first time and love seeing new ideas to use it in. Beautiful job on your eclairs!

Jaime said...

great job! i love the idea of lavender