I was previously under the impression that normal people are not allowed to make Eclairs. They were only for well experienced and paid pastry chefs. Like French Macaroons, they were just off-limits to me and my kitchen.
Enter the Daring Bakers challenge for this month: Pierre Hermes Chocolate Eclairs.
I did it. I made them, and they really weren't too hard. I even managed to get an entire plateful that looked, dare I say, as if born of a paid pastry chef. Unfortunately, I didn't take a picture of that plate because it was a paper plate and it needed to be delivered quickly to my neighbors before they got soggy. But I did get a picture of this little dandy, which would have been lovely if not for a few chocolate drips.
I love this recipe because the pastry creme and part of the chocolate glaze can be made ahead. The pastry dough comes together really quickly- like 10 minutes- and it can be frozen on the baking sheet for later, if you wish. You know I love food that can be made ahead of time!
Here is my bullet list for you to read if you intend to make this recipe:
-The chocolate glaze is quite a fussy glaze recipe, but delicious and worth it
-The chocolate sauce recipe is a separate recipe but you'll need it for the glaze. You will have extra leftover sauce, but don't fret. It is DELICIOUS eaten with a spoon and mixed with milk it makes a mean hot chocolate or chocolate milk.
-I did not use Pierre's recipe for chocolate pastry cream. I worship you, Pierre, and after making the glaze I thought I would do anything you asked....but then I discovered that some people who had made the chocolate pastry cream thought it tasted almost exactly like Cook n' Serve Jell-o Pudding. So I used Cook N' Serve Jell-o Pudding and I shall go to Foodie Hell for it. I opted for vanilla, because I just love the classic eclair combo of vanilla creme with the chocolate glaze. I also folded in some stiffly-whipped heavy cream, for good measure.
-When piping the eclairs onto the baking sheet, I just used a big Ziplock bag with the corner cut off to about 2 cm, and it worked perfectly. I learned to pipe slowly to make a thick, even eclair.
-The recipe says to cut in half to fill with cream, but I used a bismarck tip to inject the shell with cream, which gave them a more professional appearance.
-one more tip: be sure you bake them long enough. Notice how the baked shells on this cookie sheet look fallen? That makes them really hard to fill. The should be baked until they are darker and more firm, as the filled one in the first photo.