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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Chocolate Eclairs

 My boss is a man who doesn't mess around when it comes to desserts.  He's a guy who, in the summer months, will close our office so we can go get ice cream cones.  When he asked for Chocolate Eclairs last week I knew I should oblige.  I used Gale Gand's recipe with few modifications and wound up with delicious, though somewhat enormous, eclairs.  Perhaps I am less familiar with jumbo size hot dogs than I thought, but my 5" lengths of dough transformed into submarine sandwich sized eclairs.  For more manageable portions pipe dough into 3 - 3 1/2" lengths.

You'll Need:

 2 cups whole milk
6 egg yolks
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 Tb cold unsalted butter
1 tsp vanilla

1 cup water
1 stick (8 Tb) unsalted butter
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 eggs, plus 1 extra, if needed

Egg Wash
1 egg
1 1/2 teaspoons water

Chocolate Glaze
1/2 cup heavy cream
4 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

Now You're Cookin':

In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar until light and fluffy.

Add the cornstarch and whisk vigorously until no lumps remain.

Whisk in 1/4 cup of the hot milk until incorporated.  Whisk in the remaining hot milk.

Pour the mixture into a saucepan.  Cook over medium-high heat, whisking constantly, until thickened and slowly boiling.

Remove from the heat and stir in the butter and vanilla.

Pour pudding into a shallow dish (a pie plate works well) and press plastic wrap into the surface to prevent a skin from forming.  Chill at least two hours.  Remove from refrigerator an hour before using.

For the pastry: 
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. 

Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. 

In a large saucepan, bring the water, butter, salt and sugar to a rolling boil over medium-high heat. 

When it boils, immediately take the pan off the heat.  Add all the flour at once and stir hard until all the flour is incorporated, 30 to 60 seconds.  Return to the heat and cook, stirring, 30 seconds.  

Scrape the mixture into a bowl and add 3 eggs, 1 egg at a time.  Stop mixing after each addition to scrape down the sides of the bowl. 

Mix until the dough is smooth and glossy and the eggs are completely incorporated.  The dough should be thick, but not stiff.

Using a pastry bag fitted with a large plain tip, pipe fat lengths of dough (about the size and shape of a jumbo hot dog) onto the lined baking sheet, leaving 2 inches of space between them.  You should have 8 to 10 lengths. 

Egg Wash: 
In a bowl, whisk the egg and water together.  

Brush the surface of each eclair with the egg wash. 

Bake 15 minutes at 425.

Reduce the heat to 375 degrees and bake until puffed up and light golden brown, about 25 minutes more. 

Let cool on the baking sheet. 

Once cooled, fit a medium-size plain pastry tip over your index finger and use it to make a hole in the end of each eclair (or just use your fingertip). 

Using a pastry bag fitted with a medium-size plain tip, gently pipe the custard into the eclairs, using only just enough to fill the inside (don't stuff them full).

Chop chocolate into small pieces and place into a bowl with a wide enough base that you can dip your eclairs easily.

In a small saucepan, heat the cream over medium heat just until it boils. 

Immediately turn off the heat. 

Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and whisk until melted and smooth. 

Dip the tops of the eclairs in the warm chocolate glaze and set on a sheet pan. 

Chill, uncovered, at least 1 hour to set the glaze. 

Serve chilled.

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