I can't freaking believe its my 6th challenge!! Its scary sometimes when I think about how time flies =)
This month's challenge, hosted by Tony Tahhan and MeetaK, is of Chocolate Eclairs by Pierre Hermé. I have to say I was rather dissapointed when this month's challenge was announced, first because I'm not all that crazy about eclairs [before you shoot me, I like them just fine, I just don't love them], second because I've made eclairs a number of times already.
I was also quite displeased with the recipe, particularly with the given chocolate glaze recipe. It is tedious and complicated and expensive and completely unnecessary. As mentioned in last month's challenge post, I really abhor wastage, and that's what that recipe represented to me. The pastry recipe itself was fairly common, except for the strange instruction to open the oven door early in the baking, which caused my eclairs to deflate a little. Fortunately they recovered.
Despite all my grips, the challenge turned out fairly well. The pastry cream recipe is interesting, much faster than other recipes I've tried. I also played around with the flavor, with pleasant results, as you shall see =)
So, first there was the pastry. Baking them was a breeze, even with the bizarre instruction to open the oven door 7 minutes into the baking. I made puffs out of half the recipe and eclairs out of the other half.
For some reason, the puffs seemed to bake up much nicer. I think these eclairs and puffs look much cuter without the glaze. What do you think?
For the pastry cream, as mentioned, it came together quickly and tasted pretty good. Only complain is that they were a tad too runny. I split them into two batch, flavoring one with passion fruit [pulp of 1/2 a fruit, juice of 1 1/2 fruit] and the other with Kahlua. Both tasted fantastic, but I particularly liked the passion fruit pastry cream. I filled the eclairs with the passion fruit and the puffs with the kahlua.
Somehow, once folded into the pastry cream, the passion fruit loses its almost unbarable acidity, mellowing considerably. The pastry cream takes on the incredible frangrance of the passion fruit, only without the sharpness, so that it only hint of passion fruit and summer, yet lingers pleasingly on the palate. Loooooved it to bits.
I liked the Kahlua cream too, but not as much as the passion fruit =D
Next, for the chocolate glaze. As mentioned, I didn't like the given glaze, so I went for another one I found online.
2 oz. dark chocolate
3 tbspn butter
1 cup icing sugar
couple tbsp water
Melt chocolate and butter, stirring to mix. Remove from heat and stir in icing sugar until desired consistency is reached, diluting with water if too thick.
This recipe gives a glaze with a very nice consistency for the eclairs. It can be spooned nicely on top of the eclairs and it'll hold its shape well. Only problem is that its grainy from the icing sugar, and the chocolate taste is not very strong.
As for assembly, I really don't like the idea of cutting the eclairs in half. I think its messy and the runny pastry cream won't be able to hold its form. So I piped the cream into the pastries by making a small hole at its side. I think it worked pretty well =)
Another problem with this recipe: it made waaaay too much pastry cream. Good thing I really liked the passion fruit pastry cream, because I made it into this:
Canned pear pie with passion fruit pastry cream! I tell you, this pie was off the charts. I think I liked this way more than the eclairs itself, and its dead easy to make. Blind bake a short-crust pastry. Brush pastry with fruit jam. Pile in the pastry cream. Pile in the sliced pears. Seal the fruits with more jam. Ta Da, a fantastic pie!