I was starting to think that my Daring Bakers challenges might be like the Star Trek movies or Madonna albums,* but that theory was, unfortunately, not proved to be correct. I give you…my eclairs:
Now the first thing you’ll notice is that there is no chocolate here. That’s because I’m allergic (it’s the caffeine), so I decided to do pina colada eclairs with a coconut-rum pastry cream and pineapple glaze. Both of those turned out to be pretty good, especially the coconut-rum pastry cream (though that may be because there was rather more rum in it than I originally intended). The pate choux, on the other hand…well, it tasted fine, but it was definitely not puffy.
Actually, they were puffy when I took them out of the oven, but they started to sink almost immediately – did that happen to anyone else? My official statement is that it was due to the high humidity levels on the day, but I have no idea if it that’s true or if there was something I could have done differently.
Even though I was disappointed that they didn’t turn out to be beautiful, I figured that they’d probably still taste good, right? Wrong! Far too sweet for me. Again, alone, each part of the eclairs was very good, but together it was just overwhelmingly, cloyingly sweet. So maybe good for others – my mom gamely ate one – but not for me, I’m afraid. I think I’d try the recipe – or at least pate choux, in general – again (I’ve made successful cream puffs in the past – maybe I was overly confident when approaching the eclairs).
Also, I have to remember not to make these recipes all in one day – things go much more smoothly when I make only one or two elements at one go. By the time things were ready to be assembled, I’d kind of lost energy and interest in the project.
*Every other one is good.
Coconut-Rum Pastry Cream
Adapted from a recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé
- 1 can coconut cream + enough whole milk to equal 2 cups of liquid
- 4 large egg yolks
- 6 tbsp (75g) sugar
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch, sifted
- 2½ tbsp (1¼ oz: 40g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- A few tablespoons of dark rum
1. In a small saucepan, bring the coconut cream and milk mixture 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 coconut cream and milk mixture into the yolk mixture. Continue whisking and slowly pour the rest of the cream and 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).
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 pineapple, peeled, cored, and cut into chunks
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- A lot of powdered sugar
Heat the pineapple, sugar, and water over medium heat until things start to thicken a little bit. Puree in a food processor or with an immersion blender. Cool. Add powdered sugar until it reaches the desired consistency.
*The theory here was to make a sort of pineapple simple syrup and then use that to make the glaze. No idea if there’s a better way of making a glaze – let me know if you have any suggestions.
Pierre Hermé’s Cream Puffs
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. 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. In a heavy bottomed medium saucepan, bring the milk, water, butter, sugar and salt to the
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. The dough should be still warm. It is now ready to be used for the éclairs
6. 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.
7. 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.
8. Once the eclairs have cooled, slice them 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.
9. 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.
10. 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.
11. Serve immediately.