I’m back, and now I officially have some baking street cred under my belt! It’s been a crazy year so far, full of change. Since the start of 2013, I have graduated culinary school, left my teaching job of five years, gotten a job as a baker at my favorite Boston bakery, and moved into the city. So many things happening at once, some bittersweet, some downright terrifying, but most very exciting. I am beyond thrilled to get to be living my dream and doing something I love so much. It doesn’t hurt that I get to snarf delicious treats all day, either.
When my WordPress account ended up auto-renewing, I realized I probably shouldn’t let this little domain name sit here collecting dust. But…if I made a comeback, I knew it had to be with a recipe worth sharing. And I’m pretty sure I found it.
To prove that my newest recipe is comeback worthy, here is an exact conversation that went on in our apartment last night:
Me: I left the stuff to assemble the eclairs in the kitchen if you want more.
Eric: Ughh I have to make them myself?
Me: What a brat! Fine I’ll make them for you, how many will you eat?
Eric: Five. And I just had one.
And yes, he did in fact eat five eclairs. Granted they’re minis, buuut still. These are filled with chocolate mousse and glazed with chocolate icing. I started by adapting Thomas Keller’s pâte à choux recipe from his fabulous “Bouchon Bakery” cookbook. This is the same dough used to make cream puffs and it is cooked twice. Once on the stove, and once in the oven.
After its first round of cooking on the stove, I chilled and piped the pâte à choux paste onto a silpat with a star tip and let them puff up in the oven.
While those were baking, I made a rich chocolate mousse by folding espresso infused ganache into a meringue.
I piped the mousse into the center of the eclairs, dipped the top into the icing, and closed ’em up.
The texture gets a little sad and soggy when they sit around so I filled them just before we ate them. In Eric’s case, I filled five and then he ate them all. To use up the extra eclair shells, my grand idea was to fill them with ice cream and freeze them. So many possibilities, go wild.
Recipe: Chocolate Mousse filled Eclairs with Chocolate Icing
adapted from Thomas Keller
For the Eclairs:
- 1 cup of water
- 4.2 ounces unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 Tablespoons + 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 4 large eggs, plus one extra if needed
In a medium saucepan, heat the water and butter on low. Once the butter is all melted, turn the heat up slightly just until the water simmers. If the butter isn’t melted by the time the water simmers, the water will evaporate too fast. That’s why it is important to use low heat at first. Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a bowl. Off the heat, add the flour mixture to the saucepan with water and butter. Stir vigorously for about a minute. Bring the saucepan back to the stove on medium low heat. Continue stirring the paste until it is shiny, forms a large ball, and pulls away from the sides of the pan. This should take a couple minutes. Remove from the heat and begin stirring in eggs one at a time. As you stir, the dough will come together more. After adding the fourth egg, test to see if you need an additional egg- if you take a big spoonful of the dough and tip it upside down on the spoon, it should slowly being falling down towards the bowl. If it is too stiff to do so, you can add in a fifth egg. Stir until uniform and smooth.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Remove the paste from the pan into a bowl and allow to cool to room temperature. Fit a piping bag, or a resealable plastic bag with a hole cut from the corner, with a large star tip, Spoon the paste into the piping bag and chill until cool. Pipe the paste onto a baking sheet with parchment or a silpat. For mini eclairs, shoot for about 3-4 inches long, for bigger ones, about 5-6 inches is good. Space the eclairs one and a half inches apart. Place the baking sheet in the oven and immediately turn the temperature down to 350 degrees. Bake for about 20 minutes until golden, turning the pan once during cooking. Turn the heat down to 325 degrees to dry out the insides and cook for about another 20 minutes. The eclairs should feel hollow, and should be dry in the center. Remove from the oven, poke a small hole into the sides of each eclair, and place on a wire rack to cool. Meanwhile, make the mousse.
For the Mousse:
- 8 ounces heavy cream
- 6 ounces high quality semisweet chocolate, chopped
- 1 teaspoon espresso powder
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- pinch salt
- 2 egg whites
- pinch cream of tartar
- 1/2 cup sugar
In a small saucepan, heat the cream, espresso powder, salt, and vanilla on low. When warm and simmering, pour over chopped chocolate in a bowl. Whisk until smooth and glossy, with no chunks. Cool to room temperature.
Meanwhile, make the meringue. In a stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, or a handheld mixer, begin beating the egg whites. Once foamy, add a pinch of cream of tartar. When the whites begin forming soft peaks, slowly pour in the sugar and beat until stiff and fluffy. Fold a big scoop of meringue into the ganache until incorporated, then carefully fold the ganache into the rest of the meringue, being careful not to over mix. Chill for about an hour.
For the Chocolate Icing:
- 3/4 cup powdered sugar
- 1 Tablespoon cocoa powder (I used Dutch Process)
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 Tablespoons whole milk, plus more to loosen if needed
In a small bowl, whisk powdered sugar, cocoa powder, and vanilla. Add milk, one tablespoon at a time, until mixture forms a thick glaze. Too much milk will create a runnier texture. You can always add more milk or sugar to adjust the texture.
Cut cooled eclairs in half and fill bottom with chocolate mousse. I piped mine in, but feel free to spoon in. Dip the top into the icing and place on top of the mousse. You can add chopped nuts, chocolate sprinkles, etc.