This may be one of my favorite recipes ever.
I've never been crazy about eclairs or cream puffs, not like some of my family is. Mainly because I don't find them sweet enough. Now that I'm a baker, I realize that there simply isn't much sugar in the dough, and the cream fillings are known more for their texture and consistency rather than sweetness. That being said, I do love puffs or eclairs filled with a chocolate based cream, since the chocolate adds just the right amount of sweetness for me.
I was super excited last week to receive Thomas Keller's new Bouchon bakery cookbook... This and the release of the SmittenKitchen cookbook (along with the election) were events I'd been looking forward to since early summer. So far, this book does not disappoint.
It's huge--a hardback cover, filled with gorgeous photos and incredible detail to instructions, and awesomely heavy--of course, I spent hours poring over it. My collection of cookbooks is very carefully chosen and they're all my prized possessions... I still gaze at this one lovingly from time to time, that's not weird, right?
I made eclairs once before and they were quite disastrous because I didn't pipe them large enough. They turned out the size of lady fingers and I could barely fit any cream in there... of course, that didn't stop us from dipping them in cream (we don't waste food!).
This time, I decided to follow Keller's tips--he suggests using a star tip to pipe because it "allows for military precision in size and grooves". I heart TK. I also actually made them quite sizable--probably slightly bigger than they needed to be but no one complained.
Instead of pastry creams, I opted to use my leftover chocolate-espresso mascarpone frosting from when I made birthday cupcakes for my sister (I made the special occasion cake in cupcake form). I stuffed these eclairs nice and good until they felt much heavier. Keller recommends filling about 60 grams into each one, but I didn't have the patience to measure that out.
I topped each eclair with a white chocolate and cinnamon glaze because I can't leave well enough alone. Although it's said that eclairs need to be eaten within the hour because they get soggy, mine lasted for several hours just fine. After being in the fridge, they actually tasted much better with the white chocolate becoming set and crunchy.
I brought one over to my neighbor, Cate, and she stopped by hours later to grab another because she couldn't stop thinking about it. Joe says it's his favorite dessert I've made (next to his cake) and has already decided he wants this to serve at his next major lab presentation, to bribe his attendings with.
These are incredibly easy to put together, and very addictive. You can use pretty much any choux puff dough recipe for the eclairs, but I really think the star of the show is the chocolate-espresso filling combined with the cinnamon-white chocolate topping. I can't wait to make these again!
Espresso Chocolate Eclairs
Adapted from Bouchon Bakery
Makes about 6-8 eclairs
1 1/4 (175g) cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons (30g) granulated sugar
4 ounces butter, room temperature
1 cup water
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup (250 grams) eggs
Combine the flour and sugar in a small bowl.
Heat the butter, water, and salt in a saucepan until simmering and until the butter has melted.
Remove from heat and whisk in the flour and sugar--whisk constantly until it comes together in a cohesive batter.
Add in the eggs, a little at a time and whisk constantly until mixed.
Store in the fridge until cold.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Transfer the dough to a pastry bag with a star tip.
Pipe out about 6 inches of batter and leave the edge in a curl at the end of the eclair
Wet your finger and press down the curled tip at the end of each eclair so that it doesn't stick out.
Place the sheet pan in the oven and lower the temperature to 350 degrees F.
Bake for about 40 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through.
Lower the temperature to 325 degrees F and bake for about 20 minutes, until golden brown.
Lower to 300 degrees F and bake for 10 more minutes or until the eclairs feel light.
(You may break one open and check the inside--it should be completely cooked).
Let cool completely before filling or freezing.
Chocolate-Espresso Mascarpone Frosting
Adapted from here
1/3 cup natural, unsweetened cocoa powder
1 Tablespoon espresso powder
1 1/2 cups chilled heavy whipping cream
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
2 8-ounce containers of chilled mascarpone cheese
Add the espresso powder and the sugar to the cocoa powder in a bowl. Bring the heavy cream to a boil and then slowly pour the cream over the cocoa mixture, and whisk until the cocoa and espresso is dissolved.
Chill until completely cold.
Beat with an electric beater until it firms up a bit.
Add in the mascarpone and beat until it's thick and forms firm peaks.
Try not to overbeat as the mascarpone can curdle.
White Chocolate Topping
3 ounces white chocolate (use the good stuff that has cocoa butter in the first 3 ingredients)
1 tsp corn syrup
1 tsp butter
Melt in a heatproof bowl in the microwave or over the stove (do NOT let it burn!)
Use a spoon to spread some on top of each filled eclair.
Sprinkle some of your best cinnamon on top.
Store in the fridge; eat chilled or at room temp.
Best eaten the same day it's made.
Fill a piping bag with a round tip with the chocolate-espresso cream.
Poke a hole on the bottom of each eclair (or really, anywhere you see an opening) and fill with the cream until the eclair feels heavier or until the cream starts to spill out.
Use a spoon or dip the tops of each eclair into the white chocolate topping.
Let dry in the fridge or on parchment paper on the countertop and then enjoy.