Friday, October 14, 2011

Ooh la la, Eclairs!

I have a friend that shares my love of baking so much so that when we get together (which is not too often), we would rather don our aprons and create some fantastic dessert than go out on the town. That's actually not quite true... Wearing my apron is actually a practice I wish I followed. Usually, at the end of a day of baking I am covered head to toe in flour, eggs, and the like. Somehow my friend, a non-apron wearer as well, never manages to get messy.... Go figure. To make matters worse, I wear a lot of black....

This week we were lucky enough to get some time to bake, so we opted to make eclairs. Eclairs are a french pastry made of pate a choux (literally translated to "cabbage pastry" as the pastry resembles cabbage when baked) which is a dough that is cooked over the stove in a quite finicky manner. This dough is piped out and baked at two different temperatures, the first to achieve the puff and the latter to brown the pastry. Once cooled they are injected with a beautiful vanilla custard and then dipped in chocolate ganache. Profiteroles, or cream puffs, can be made with the same pastry, cream, and chocolate, the only difference being the shape. For these adorable little puffs, pipe out little blobs rather than logs of pate a choux. Contrary to what you are probably thinking, making eclairs is not difficult as one might imagine. As long as the steps are followed exactly, it's a fun experience! These eclairs are best fresh. But if you bake too many (and with eclairs, any more than 2 is too many), you may want to freeze them. After baking this batch, I froze a few and voila! Stick one in the microwave for a few seconds and I can have an eclair any time I want.... Not really the best thing, actually. If you plan on freezing them, make sure you do so completely assembled (filled with custard and dipped in chocolate).

I have another friend who absolutely dies for these beauties. I don't know if he just loves eclairs in general or specifically the ones I make, but he's been raving about them for years now. :) I have been using this recipe for all those years. Check it out, make yourself some, and save one for me.

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