Choux Whore

Choux Whore

I love choux (pronounced shoe, for those that are confused.) Its a fascinating thing… you cook it on the stove first and then bake it. When it bakes, it magically puffs and becomes hollow. Then you fill the hollow pastry with whatever your heart desires. Make them sweet by filling with whipped cream, pastry cream or even ice cream… or make them savory with a cheese filling. You can even deep fry the dough to make beignets or churros. What’s not to like? Choux is insanely versatile and a delicious vehicle for your favorite filling.

When I saw that Meeta and Tony chose eclairs for our Daring Baker Challenge this month, I was elated! If you can’t tell from my ode to choux above, its one of my favorite things to make/eat. The versatility of this pastry is what makes it so fabulous. The recipe came from Chocolate Desserts By Pierre Hermé. This recipe is over the top decadent, with a rich, dark chocolate pastry cream and dark chocolate glaze.

Although I love chocolate and this was delicious, I felt this was too chocolaty. What you say? Yes, too chocolaty. Perhaps the first time I’ve ever made such a shameful, shameful statement… but it was. Of course… Stephan and I suffered immensely, and ate each and every eclair, but in the back of my mind, I kept thinking about the “traditional” eclair with vanilla pastry cream and chocolate glaze. I’ll definitely have to make the more traditional version soon… very soon.

So… on to the recipe that you can find here. I’ll admit it… I altered a few things, for time and sanity’s sake. First, the glaze had way too many steps and seemed to make much more than I deemed necessary. It called for making a large vat of sauce that you use 7 tablespoons of said vat to add to another sauce, which becomes the glaze. Instead, I took equal parts (by weight) of Valrhona Dark chocolate and cream and made a basic ganache. Took me all of 3 minutes. So I didn’t follow the recipe… beat me with a wet noodle.

Also, I baked the first batch as the recipe indicated, for 7 minutes, slightly propped open the door for another 5 minutes and then rotated the pans and finished baking whilst singing “she’s be comin’ round the mountain”. OK, I made up that last part… it wasn’t in the recipe. In my opinion, it was way too time consuming and the outcome was, eh, not so good. The éclairs did not puff as much as they should. Since the method seemed so odd, I only baked a few this way. The next sheet-pan, I baked them with the convection feature for about 20 minutes, and they were almost double the original batch and were perfectly browned and loverly. Convection is definitely the way to go if you have it.

Also, as you can see in the pictures, I made them tiny, about 2 inches long. I feel tiny eclairs (as with other pastries) are ridiculously adorable, and it helps with portion control. Of course, you could (and I did) easily eat four or five (ten) without too much guilt. I’m not sure if that is good portion control, but I sure felt better. :P

All in all the recipes were good. The chocolate pastry cream was very chocolaty and great just eaten with a spoon, which I’m not ashamed to say I did. The choux recipe was also great, but I disagreed with the baking method. It just didn’t make sense… sorry Pierre. No worries, you’re still (and always will be) the pastry shizna in my book. If you would like to see the other daring baker’s eclairs, go here, or here to see all of my past daring baker posts.