I was SO excited when our August recipe was unveiled. I love eclairs. My mom used to work in a bakery and I remember her bringing these home once in a while. We loved them!
Little did I know how tough these were to make. I've seen them made before and they look like they're a snap to make. Riiiiight. Maybe after making them 100 times, I'd be better at it, too. I made them twice. The first time, they deflated and were way too flat. So I went to the DB'ers forum and checked out what others had to say.
I tried doing them a different way the second time, with a bit higher oven temp, and slightly different cooking times. Also adding water in the bottom of the oven to release steam to help them puff up and rise.
They rose higher and got puffier, but as they cooled, the bottoms kind of receded back up inside the tops. Weird, right? I still don't think I could have cut them in half, so filling them with a pastry bag and tip was the way to go. This worked well on most of them--a couple of them were still just to thin. Oh, and poking a knife in to kind of open them up helped, too.
And before I forget--this month's recipe was chosen and hosted by MeetaK at What's For Lunch Honey? and Tony Tahhan at TonyTahhan.com. GORGEOUS blogs, so get on over there and check them out! You can also find the eclair recipe at their sites.
We had to use the pate a choux part of the recipe, and either the chocolate glaze or the chocolate filling--at least one of the chocolate elements, but the rest was up to us. So I put my thinking cap on and came up with two variations.
#1--Peanut Butter Pastry Cream with Chocolate Glaze and Chopped Peanut Garnish
#2--Maple Pastry Cream with Chocolate Glaze and Crumbled Bacon Garnish.
Yes, that's right! BACON! And it's incredibly delicious with the chocolate glaze and the maple cream. The peanut butter ones are delicious, too, but the maple-bacon is definitely my favorite.
The recipe for the Maple Pastry Cream can be found here, and click here for the Peanut Butter Pastry Cream.
Would I make these again? I'm not sure. They taste amazing, but after two attempts and flat...ish results, I was discouraged. My husband reminded me that some people have to do these many times before they get them perfect, and I know he's right. He also told me these are the best eclairs he's ever had, so I guess that makes the trouble all worthwhile, right?
Individually, every single step was a cinch. It was getting the little suckers to puff and stay that way that was tricky. I think I need a French chef for a neighbor. Now that would be helpful! At any rate, I'm so glad to have tried pate a choux! The dough is so simple to make, and I'd like to try making cheese puffs one of these days.
Be sure to check out the Daring Bakers Blogroll to see how other DB'ers did the eclairs!