Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Chocolate Eclairs

Chocolate Eclairs are one dangerously delicious pastry, so it's no surprise that they are included at the Hogwarts feast:

"Blocks of ice cream in every flavor you could think of, apple pies, treacle tarts, chocolate eclairs and jam doughnuts, trifle, strawberries, Jell-O, rice pudding..." (Sorcerer's Stone 125).

I had always assumed that eclairs were super hard to make. They're really not, though they are pretty touchy as far as temperature goes! We will use the recipe from The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook.

For the Choux Pastry, You Will Need:
1 cup water
1/2 sick butter
1/4 tsp salt
1 Tbs granulated sugar
1 cup flour
4 large eggs
pastry bag for forming eclairs

For the Chocolate Pastry Cream, You Will Need:
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 Tbs cornstarch
1 Tbs unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup granulated sugar
pinch salt
3 large egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

For the Chocolate Glaze, You Will Need:
1/2 cup heavy cream
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

1. For the choux pastry, combine the water, butter, salt, and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.

2. Reduce the heat and add the flour all at once, mixing quickly with a wooden spoon until the mixture pulls away from the sides of the pan and forms a ball around the spoon.

3. Transfer the dough to a bowl and allow it to cool slightly.
4. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each one until combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl. I recommend beating the first couple with a fork, as the force of an electric beater causes the dough to clump around it. Bu definitely use an electric beater before moving on to step 5.

5. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees, and grease and flour a baking sheet.
6. Cut a slit at the end of a pastry bag and fill it with the choux pastry dough. Note: Dinah Bucholz says to cut a 1.5" slit, but I found this to be way too huge.
7. Pipe 3" logs onto the baking sheet. Heads up, they puff up like crazy, so leave some expanding space.

8. Bake for 15 minutes, rotating the sheet halfway through. Then reduce the heat to 375 degrees and bake for another 20 minutes, again rotating halfway through the baking time, until the pastries are puffed and golden.

9. Remove from the oven and allow them to cool to room temperature. At this point, they can be sealed in a ziplock or airtight container and frozen for up to 2 months. But really, I don't so much recommend this, as even if you defrost them completely without opening the container, they still get a little moist from the condensation.
10. To make the pastry cream, combine the milk, heavy cream, cornstarch, cocoa powder, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan and cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until hot but not bubbling. Reduce the heat.

11. Slowly pour 1/2 cup-ish of the hot mixture into the egg yolks while whisking constantly, then pour the egg mixture back into the saucepan while stirring constantly.

12. Return the heat to medium-high and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thick and bubbling. This happens surprisingly fast! Remove from heat.

13. Add the vanilla and chocolate. Stir to combine. Pour the mixture through a sieve (or not, I didn't). Cover the mixture with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming, and cool to room temperature. Then refrigerate until cold, or up to two days. A note about the cream: It's really more like pudding than anything else.

14. To make the glaze, combine the chocolate and cream, microwave 1 minute, and stir until smooth. Cool until thick enough to spread. Heads up, it takes a really long time to cool that much... I definitely didn't wait long enough.

15. To assemble the eclairs, split them in half with a sharp knife (I left a bit of a hinge) and fill the bottom half with about 2Tbs of the pastry cream. Replace the top.

16. Spread about 2 tsp of the glaze over the topes and allow the glaze to set.

The are best when eaten immediately, but can be refrigerated. Just be aware that the longer they're chilled, the smooshier they'll get. But honestly, they may not be as pretty, but I think they're even more delicious when they're smooshy! So enjoy!

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