Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Chocolate-Glazed Eclairs


I made these eclairs, and I can't think of a single thing to write about them.

Well, maybe a single thing.
I really, really liked them. I think you would like them too.
There. That's two things.

Boring, right? In a situation like this, I usually just rant about something or share a funny anecdote. But this time... I truly have nothing.

Please accept as evidence the topics I've taken into consideration so far:

  • How Not to Use the Word "Literally"
  • The Bank Teller Who Counted Like a Six-Year-Old, or The Time I Almost Stabbed Someone
  • Ben Flajnik as The Bachelor: WTF?
  • Pigs, Hippopotamuses, Elephant Seals, and Other Animals My Dog Resembles
  • Stories from My Childhood: The Time I Played in My Cat's "Sandbox"
  • Am I The Only One Who Thinks San Pellegrino Tastes Like Unsweetened Dr. Pepper?
  • Cargo Pants Tucked Into Short Ugg Boots: You're Doing It Wrong

As riveting as each of these topics would probably be, I think I'll just leave you with the recipe. If you ask me, eclairs would be the perfect treat to make for your valentine this year!

(That's three things! Yesss.)

Chocolate-Glazed Eclairs
Adapted from Baking Illustrated

For the pastry cream:

1 & 1/2 cups half & half
5 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon sugar, divided
pinch of salt
3 large egg yolks
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cubed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the pastry shells:

2 large eggs + 1 large egg white
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed
2 tablespoons whole milk
6 tablespoons water
1 & 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup all-purpose flour

For the chocolate glaze:

3 tablespoons half & half
2 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup powdered sugar

Directions:

1. Prepare the pastry cream:
  • Heat the half & half, 4 tablespoons sugar, and salt in a saucepan over medium heat until it reaches a simmer, stirring occasionally. 
  • While the half & half mixture is heating, whisk together the egg yolks in a medium bowl. Add the remaining sugar (1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) and cornstarch, and whisk until combined.
  • Once the half & half mixture is simmering, gradually whisk it into the egg mixture. Don't add the half & half all at once, or it may cook the eggs. Return the mixture to the saucepan and bring it back to a simmer, whisking constantly.
  • Once the mixture is thickened and glossy, remove it from the heat and whisk in the butter and vanilla. Transfer the pastry cream to a medium bowl and cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly onto the surface of the cream to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until set, about 2-3 hours.
2. Make the pastry shells:
  • Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • In a measuring cup, beat together the eggs and egg white. This should be about 1/2 cup; discard any excess.
  • In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring the butter, milk, water, sugar, and salt to a boil. Once the mixture is boiling, immediately remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the flour until the mixture clears the sides of the pan.
  • Return the saucepan to low heat and cook for about 3 minutes, or until the mixture is slightly shiny and looks like wet sand, stirring constantly.
  • Immediately transfer the mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer and beat for about 10 seconds to allow it to cool slightly. With the mixer running, add the eggs slowly in a steady stream. Once the eggs are incorporated, scrape the sides of the bowl, and continue mixing for about 30 seconds until the mixture becomes a thick, sticky paste.
  • Transfer the paste to a pastry bag fitted with a large round tip. Pipe the paste into eight strips about 5 inches long and 1 inch wide, spaced about 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheet.
  • Bake the shells for 15 minutes without opening the oven door. Reduce the oven temperature to 375°F and continue to bake until golden brown and firm, about 6-10 minutes longer.
  • Remove the shells from the oven and cut a 3/4-inch slit in the top of each shell to release steam. Return the shells to the oven, turn off the heat, and prop the oven door open with the handle of a wooden spoon. Allow the shells to dry in the turned-off oven for about 45 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
3. Make the chocolate glaze:
  • Place the half & half and chocolate chips in a small microwave-safe bowl and heat in 30-second intervals until melted, stirring after each interval.
  • Add the powdered sugar, and whisk until smooth.
4. Assemble the eclairs:
  • Use a paring knife to cut around each pastry shell to remove the top third.
  • Spoon 3-4 tablespoons of pastry cream into each shell.
  • Place the top back on each shell, and press gently to secure.
  • Spoon 1-2 tablespoons of glaze onto each eclair, and spread it gently with the back of the spoon.
Serve within several hours. Makes about 8 eclairs.

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