Chocolate éclairs

Chocolate eclair
Chocolate eclair

Over the past couple of months I’ve been focusing on learning to make bread and I feel like I’ve lost my way a little bit.

While I recognise that bread is a baking necessity, it’s not really what I started out wanting to achieve.

By learning bread basics I’ve taken my eye off the prize a bit, so have decided to go back to my first love – pastry.

Even after two years with this blog, I still don’t feel like I’ve fully mastered all the basic techniques so this week I wanted another crack at choux.

Choux for me has been pretty hit and miss, and I’m yet to find a foolproof technique.

I now feel confident in getting the consistency of the dough right, but there are just so many baking techniques out there and they all make it sound so easy.

So, back to basics with choux – the water in the dough is designed to steam in the oven and produce perfect, aerated shapes just waiting to be filled.

The dough should be wet enough that it slowly drops back into the bowl when you hold up a spoonful, but not so runny that you can’t pipe it.

You need to make sure you that you don’t dry out the dough before adding the eggs or you’ll remove too much of the water, but also need to ensure that you cook the flour off.

Piping itself can be varied – you can make éclairs, Religieuse, profiteroles – whatever you desire. And then cram full of crème pâtissière, crème Chantilly, mousse or savoury fillings.

But how do you get the perfect crispy shell that doesn’t deflate when taken out of the oven?

I turned to Raymond Blanc this time and he recommends baking at 180C for 30 minutes. His dough included milk as well as water which means that you need to bake for longer at a lower temperature.

One batch was great, the other didn’t rise at all so I still have no idea how to beat this thing.

I made éclairs this time and filled them with chocolate crème pâtissière which is simple made by adding a few squares of dark chocolate to your warm custard mixture.

I topped with chocolate ganache for the ultimately chocoholic treat but unfortunately my camera chose that exact moment to die so I don’t have any photos to upload. I’ll get charging and hopefully upload a piccie soon.

In the meantime, perhaps we let Raymond’s perfection be our inspiration?? http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2011/mar/09/raymond-blanc-chocolate-clair-recipe

Chocolate éclairs

1 quantity pâte à choux
1 quantity crème pâtissière
20g dark chocolate
1 quantity chocolate ganache

Mix one batch of pastry and pipe out onto a lined baking sheet around 15cm long using a 1.5cm plain nozzle. Make sure to leave enough room between each one.

Bake at 180C for 30 minutes or until golden and crisp. Remove from the oven, and pierce each one to allow the steam to escape. Lay on wire rack to cool.

Make the crème pâtissière, adding the chocolate as the custard is cooling. Cover with cling film and place in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Make the ganache and leave to cool.

When ready to assemble, pipe the custard into the éclairs using a 5mm nozzle. Dip each éclair into the ganache coating one side, and remove any excess with your finger. Alternatively, you can pipe the ganache across the top of the éclair.

Leave to cool and set before serving.

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