Today I set out to cross off a baked treat that has been on my list for quite some time. Then, while working out of the giant behemoth that is Baking Illustrated I got sucked into several other recipes that I have got to try. Baking Illustraited is amazing, not just for its tried and tested quality recipes, but for the spark that ignites inside of you every time you dust of the cover and let yourself sink into a field of cream filled, dipped, and glazed dreams.
Todays eclairs reminded me of what Pass the Sushi is supposed to be for myself. A challenge. A taking on of recipes that inspire and push me a little bit further. It's easy to get wrapped up in the fat kid friendly, delicious, quick and easy foods that I post from time to time. They are EASY! Which a lot of you want. Don't have a lot of dishes and I can snap a few pics and publish a post in no time. But I still need to challenge myself.
There will never be a day when quick dinner fixins is done away with, what's the fun in that? But it's time to remind myself of the game for me and kick things up a notch. Get my hands dirty and get back to work in the kitchen.
from Baking Illustrated
- 1 recipe Cream Puff Pastry
- 1 recipe Pastry Cream
- 3 tbs half and half
- 2 oz semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
- 1 cup confectioners sugar
For the Pastry:
Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees F. Spray a 18x12 inch baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray and line with parchment paper; set aside.
Fold down the top 3 or 4 inches of a pastry bag fitted with ½ inch plain tip to form a cuff. Hold the bag open in one hand and fill the bag with the paste. Unfold the cuff, lay the bag on the work surface, and, using your hands, push the paste towards the tip. Twist the top of the bag and pipe paste into eight 5x1 inch strips, spaced about 1 inch apart. Use the back of a teaspoon dipped in cold water to even out the shape and smooth the surface of the strips.
Bake 15 minutes, do not open the oven door, then reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees and continue to bake until golden brown and fairly firm, 8-10 minutes longer. Eclairs should not be soft and squishy. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and with a pairing knife cut a ¼ inch slit into the top of each eclair to release steam. Return the eclairs to the oven, turn off the oven, and prop the oven door open with a wooden spoon. Dry the eclairs in the oven until the enters are just moist, and the eclairs are crisp, about 45 minutes. Transfer eclairs to a wire rack to cool.
Make the glaze: Plae the half and half and chocolate in a medium microwave safe bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and microwave for 20 seconds at a time, until the mixture just begins to steam. Whisk thoroughly, add the confectioners' sugar, and whisk until smooth.
To assemble: With a paring knife, cut around the sides of each eclair to remove the top third. Dip the top of each eclair into the glaze, shaking off any excess, and transfer the tops to a wire rack to dry. Spoon 3 to 4 tbs of pastry cream into the bottom of each eclair. Once the glaze has set, set the tops back on the eclairs and press gently to secure. Serve within several hours.
Cream Puff Pastry ( pâte à choux)
- 2 large eggs, plus 1 egg white
- 5 tbs unsalted butter, cut into 10 pieces
- 2 tbs while milk
- 6 tbs water
- 1 ½ teas sugar
- ¼ teas salt
- ½ cup flour, sifted
Beat the eggs and egg white in a measuring cup or small bowl. You should have ½ cup (discard any excess). Set aside.
Bring the butter, milk, water, sugar, and salt to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring once or twice. When the mixture reaches a full boil (the butter should be fully melted), immediately remove the saucepan from heat and stir in the flour with a heatproof spatula or wooden spoon until combined and the mixture clears the sides of the pan. Return the saucepan to low heat and cook, stirring constantly, using a smearing motion, until the mixture is slightly shiny, looks like wet sand, and tiny beads of fat appear o the bottom of the saucepan, about 3 minutes. The paste should register 175 to 180 degrees F on an instant thermometer.
Immediately transfer the mixture to a food processor and process with the feed tube pen for 10 seconds to cool slightly. With the machine running, gradually add the eggs in a steady stream. When all the eggs have been added, scrape down the sides of the bowl, then process for 30 seconds until a smooth, thick, sticky paste forms. If not using right away, the paste can be stored with a lightly greased sheet of plastic wrap directly over the surface for up to 2 hours at room temperature.
- 1 ½ cups half and half
- 5 tbs sugar, plus 1 teas
- pinch of salt
- 3 large egg yolks
- 2 tbs cornstarch
- 2 tbs cold unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
- 1 teas vanilla extract
Heat the half and half, 4 tbs sugar, and the salt in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat until simmering, stirring occasionally to discover the sugar.
Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks in a medium bowl until thoroughly combined. Whisk in the remaining the sugar until the sugar has begun to dissolve and the mixture is creamy, about 14 seconds. Whisk in the cornstarch until combined and the mixture in pale yellow and thick, about 30 seconds.
When the half and half mixture reaches a full simmer, gradually whisk the simmering half and half into the yolk mixture to the saucepan, scraping the bowl with a rubber spatula; return to a simmer over medium heat, whisking constantly, until a few bubbles burst on the surface and the mixture is thickened and glossy, about 30 seconds. Off the heat, whisk in the butter and vanilla. Strain the pastry cream through a fine-mesh sieve set over a medium bowl. Press plastic wrap directly over the surface to prevent a skin from forming and refrigerate until cold and set, at least 3 hours.