Hazelnut Éclairs

To my defense, I did warn that there could be a lack of posting around here. I gave my oven and taste-testing husband a break during this eventful month. There are plenty of you who travel frequently either for work or leisure much more often than I do, which honestly isn’t all that often, and I don’t know how you do it. I do love plane rides – yes, even the ones overseas – and I’ve always had a fascination with airports, but I’m not cut out for the jet-setter lifestyle.

A big reason why is because I’d miss everyday life within a community. I’ve mentioned before the joy I experience during the monthly women’s prayer meetings, and well, my summer travel schedule made me unavailable for them. It’s not just the prayer meetings, it’s being available to spontaneously hang out with friends and family in the area. I feel like I’ve missed out on a lot of that this summer, and I could blame it on the little travel I did, or really, what could just be poor time management. All this really has nothing to do with hazelnut éclairs, but I do believe it has to do with baking and my blogging. See, I bake for others, it’s how I show my love for people. And when I’m not as involved within my community, I’m not baking as often. If it weren’t for the Daring Bakers, maybe I wouldn’t have made these!

Thank goodness for the Daring Bakers, and the online community found there. Y’all have saved me from my slump, and I’m ready to get back into the swing of things. I used the praline paste recipe I discovered through last month’s Filbert Gateau for a hazelnut cream filling, and the eclairs turned out just lovely. I’ll bet my taste-tester is glad to be needed again.

Hazelnut Éclairs
adapted from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé

Pierre Hermé’s Cream Puff Dough
from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé

1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
5 large eggs, at room temperature

1. In a heavy bottomed medium saucepan, bring the milk, water, butter, sugar and salt to the
2. Once the mixture is at a rolling boil, add all of the flour at once, reduce the heat to medium and start to stir the mixture vigorously with a wooden spoon. The dough comes together very quickly. Do not worry if a slight crust forms at the bottom of the pan, it’s supposed to. You need to carry on stirring for a further 2-3 minutes to dry the dough. After this time the dough will be very soft and smooth.
3. Transfer the dough into a bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each egg has been added to incorporate it into the dough. You will notice that after you have added the first egg, the dough will separate, once again do not worry. As you keep working the dough, it will come back all together again by the time you have added the third egg. In the end the dough should be thick and shiny and when lifted it should fall back into the bowl in a ribbon.
4. The dough should be still warm. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Divide the oven into thirds by positioning the racks in the upper and lower half of the oven. Line two baking sheets with waxed or parchment paper.
5. Fill a large pastry bag fitted with a 2/3 (2cm) plain tip nozzle with the warm cream puff dough. Pipe the dough onto the baking sheets in long, 4 to 41/2 inches (about 11 cm) chubby fingers. Leave about 2 inches (5 cm) space in between each dough strip to allow them room to puff. The dough should give you enough to pipe 20-24 éclairs.
6. Slide both the baking sheets into the oven and bake for 7 minutes. After the 7 minutes, slip the handle of a wooden spoon into the door to keep in ajar. When the éclairs have been in the oven for a total of 12 minutes, rotate the sheets top to bottom and front to back. Continue baking for a further 8 minutes or until the éclairs are puffed, golden and firm. The total baking time should be approximately 20 minutes.

Chocolate Glaze
from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé
(makes 1 cup)

1/3 cup heavy cream
3 1/2 bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
4 teaspoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces, at room temperature
7 tablespoons Chocolate Sauce (recipe below), warm or at room temperature

1. In a small saucepan, bring the heavy cream to a boil. Remove from the heat and slowly begin to add the chocolate, stirring with a wooden spoon or spatula.
2. Stirring gently, stir in the butter, piece by piece followed by the chocolate sauce.

Chocolate Sauce
from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé
(makes 1 1/2 cups)

4 1/2 bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup water
1/2 cup, or heavy cream
1/3 cup sugar

1. Place all the ingredients into a heavy bottomed saucepan and bring to a boil, making sure to stir constantly. Then reduce the heat to low and continue stirring with a wooden spoon until the sauce thickens.
2. It may take 10-15 minutes for the sauce to thicken, but you will know when it is done when it coats the back of your spoon.

Hazelnut Cream
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons praline paste (recipe below)

1. Chill mixing bowl and paddle attachment in freezer for about 20 minutes.
2. Add cream, sugar, and praline paste to chilled bowl. Beat on low speed until small bubbles form, about 30 seconds. Increase speed to medium and continue beating until beaters leave a trail, about 30 seconds. Increase speed to high and continue beating until cream is smooth, thick, and nearly doubled in volume, about 30 seconds for stiff peaks.

Praline Paste
from Great Cakes by Carol Walter

1 cup hazelnuts, toasted/skinless
2/3 cup sugar

1. Put the sugar in a heavy 10-inch skillet. Heat on low flame for about 10-20 min until the sugar melts around the edges. Do not stir the sugar. Swirl the pan if necessary to prevent the melted sugar from burning.
2. Brush the sides of the pan with water to remove sugar crystals. If the sugar in the center does not melt, stir briefly. When the sugar is completely melted and caramel in color, remove from heat.
3. Stir in the nuts with a wooden spoon and separate the clusters. Return to low heat and stir to coat the nuts on all sides. Cook until the mixture starts to bubble.
4. Then spread evenly onto a jelly roll pan lined with parchment. As it cools, it will harden into brittle. Break the candied nuts into pieces and place them in the food processor.
5. Pulse into a medium-fine crunch or process until the brittle turns into a powder. To make paste, process for several minutes. Store in an airtight container and store in a cool dry place. Do not refrigerate.

Éclair Assembly

1. Slice the éclairs horizontally, using a serrated knife and a gently sawing motion. Set aside the bottoms and place the tops on a rack over a piece of parchment paper.
2. The glaze should be barely warm to the touch (between 95 – 104 degrees F. Spread the glaze over the tops of the éclairs using a metal icing spatula. Allow the tops to set and in the meantime pipe the bottoms with the hazelnut cream.
3. Pipe the hazelnut cream into the bottoms of the éclairs. Make sure you fill the bottoms with enough cream to mound above the pastry. Place the glazed tops onto the pastry cream and wriggle gently to settle them.
4. Served the éclairs immediately after assembling.

Matcha Profiteroles

“You’ve gotta try these cream puffs, they’re so light.”
“Actually, they just taste light”

A snippet of a conversation at the bridal shower held last weekend. Profiteroles, or cream puffs, do taste light largely because of the hollow pastry and the usual whipped cream filling. But it’s just like that light and airy cheesecake I made the other day – tasting light and being light are not the same thing. I suppose I can call this week Deceitfully Light Week. If I can squeeze in my last recipe tomorrow, it definitely will fall right in line with that theme.

It’s been a long time since the last time I participated in a Hay Hay it’s Donna Day! and there have been some good changes. Suzana’s the host for Hay Hay it’s Donna Day#20 and chose choux for the event. And as much as I wanted to stick with Donna Hay’s recipe, I found one at Cook’s Illustrated that had all the detail I felt I needed for my first time making the choux. There must have been too much detail as I overlooked an important one – the size of the pastries. I made such tiny puffs, barely any cream fit inside them. That aside, I was pleased with how they turned out, and now have found a new love for choux.

Matcha Profiteroles
adapted from Cook’s Illustrated

2 large eggs
1 large egg white
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 10 pieces
2 tablespoons whole milk
6 tablespoons water
1 1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup flour, sifted

1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon matcha, sifted

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Line large cookie sheet with parchment paper; set aside.
2. Beat eggs and egg white in measuring cup or small bowl. Set aside.
3. Bring butter, milk, water, sugar, and salt to boil in small saucepan over medium heat, stirring once or twice. When mixture reaches full boil, immediately remove saucepan from heat and stir in flour with heatproof spatula or wooden spoon until combined and mixture clears sides of pan.
4. Immediately transfer mixture to food processor and process with feed tube open for 10 seconds to cool slightly. With machine running, gradually add eggs in steady stream. When all eggs have been added, scrape down sides of bowl, then process for 30 seconds until smooth, thick, sticky paste forms.
4. Fill mechanical pastry bag with paste and pipe into 1 inch mounds on prepared baking sheet, spacing them about an inch apart (you should be able to fit about 24 mounds on baking sheet).
5. Bake 15 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 375F degrees and continue to bake until golden brown and fairly firm, 5 minutes longer. Remove baking sheet from oven and cool.
6. With an electric mixer, beat heavy cream on medium until it holds soft peaks. Add in sugar and sifted matcha, beat again until soft peaks form.
6. Clean mechanical pastry bag and fill with matcha whipped cream. Using the filling tip, gently pipe cream into choux.
7. Store puffs in freezer, thaw right before serving.