On New Year’s Eve, I still hadn’t decided on a dessert to cap our eat-in, takeout dinner from local restaurants Favorites Thai and Alma. Finally, I thought that a batch of éclairs wouldn’t be too much trouble, and provide an opportunity for little hands to help. I used a recipe from the Duchess Bake Shop cookbook. Here’s how it went down:
Pâte à Choux
Choux pastry is something I’ve made many times, but my results are always inconsistent. This time, I had my mise en place all ready: eggs cracked, in a glass cup with a spout; flour measured in a bowl; pencil lines drawn on the parchment.
This recipe has some helpful tips: one is to ensure you stir the batter in the pot for a full 5 minutes. I made sure to do that, switching arms halfway!
Once the batter was “cooked”, I dumped it into the mixer, and added the eggs one at a time. It seemed very soft and squishy. Sure enough, when I piped the straight lines out, the dough spread out on the pan.
After baking, they looked pretty good. I recalled other recipes telling you to poke holes to vent any trapped steam, so I did that. Still, my baked éclairs deflated quite a bit into flattened canoes. I let them sit a room temperature, uncovered, for a few hours.
The cookbook’s note on fruit purées is not helpful: at their bakery, they use commercial fruit products that have consistent levels of sugar and acid. I wasn’t about to buy Boiron products just for this, so I thawed some frozen raspberries, crushed them by hand, then pushed them through a sieve.
I cooked the curd in a metal bowl over a small pot of simmering water. When it reached about 180℉, I poured the mixture into a sieve over the bowl with the cold butter.
After stirring to melt most of the butter chunks, there were still a few small pieces left. There wasn’t enough heat to melt all of it, so I used an immersion blender to break up the last few bits. Finally, I chilled the mixture in the refrigerator for a few hours.
Dark Chocolate Ganache
Not much to talk about here. I took some 72% chocolate callets, broke them up by hand, then melted them in the microwave. I also nuked a measuring glass with cream and glucose, then poured it over the melted chocolate. This mixture also needed to be chilld in the fridge.
After we came back from our walk, about 10 minutes before midnight, we were ready to assemble. First, I cut out an oval window in the top of each baked éclair. The consistency of the raspberry curd was quite spreadable, and it was easy to pipe into the cavities.
Then, we placed raspberries on top, then piped chocolate rosettes between the fruit. Unfortunately, the ganache was still a bit soft, so the piped shapes didn’t hold, and melted into jiggly puddles.
Overall, we were really pleased with this decadent dessert. Every bite had a mixture of crisp shell, buttery curd, intense chocolate, and berry. A nice snack with a glass of champagne 😉!
Some things to improve for next time: getting the baked éclairs to hold their shape after cooling, and ensuring the ganache is at the right temperature for piping.