Sunday, August 31, 2008

August Daring Baker's Challenge

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!


Da Bee's Knees said...

Wow! Beautiful pics! I cannot believe that I've lived as long as I have without tasting passion fruit.

Guess what is next on my list of things to try?

Thanks for the welcome to Daring Bakers and your encouraging comment.

CookiePie said...

Beautiful eclairs! I love the flavors you chose. And the pie looks great too!

Adventures in Gluttony said...

Oh my golly! That pie looks to die for! What a clever idea for the leftovers. Your pastry creams sound really delious. I bet those babies went fast!

Candace said...

I must try passion fruit pastry cream now! Passion fruit is one of my favorite foods! Lovely eclairs and cream puffs!

Lisa Michelle said...

Mmm..passion fruit eclairs and Kahluha profiteroles! I was going to do a passion fruit curd beneath the pastry cream, but since I did everything at the last minute, I had to stick with 'simple'.

That said, your photos and 'clairs look amazing! Want some of my leftover chocolate sauce? I have a TON! lol

jo said...

Oh yum. Love your ideas on the pastry cream - such a diff!

linda said...

You eclairs and puffs look wonderful! Love the fillings you used.

Pamela said...

Beautiful eclairs and I must agree on all points about the recipe I didn't follow the chcolate glaze just seemed like a crazy way to make it

Half Baked said...

Gorgeous photos! passion fruit cream sounds great! nice job:)

Mrs Ergül said...

what a success babe! Thanks for having me over :D

Eat4Fun said...

The passion fruit eclairs sound delicious! Also, thanks for providing a tip to my question in the forum. :-)

AJ said...

Your pictures look great and the pastry cream sounds yummy!