You know that ecstatic top-of-the-world feeling when you crack something successfully in the first attempt? That high you get when you’ve created something really and truly delicious that wins you a steady stream of compliments even days after the dish has been savoured? That’s exactly what I felt like after making the Filled Pate A Choux Swans!
|Temptation on a platter|
Now I had some choux pastry dough leftover from the first time and I really wanted to try something else with it. I knew I had to make eclairs, they’re a huge favourite and it would be criminal not to make them. After piping out 8 eclairs, I still had a bit of batter left and I was pondering again. That’s when I remembered this scene from the movie Bridesmaids where the cop tells the baker girl that he used to be a huge fan of her erstwhile store and just couldn’t get over those ‘sweet, fluffy, cream-filled buns’. Yes, he was referring to cream puffs and I had the answer to my question there.
Double chocolate cream puffs
For the cream puffs, instead of filling them with ice cream, which I didn’t have in the freezer at that point in time, I did a simple chocolate custard by adding melted chocolate to regular vanilla custard, thickening it and using that. To top off these little melt-in-the-mouth delights I drizzled some bitter chocolate ganache on them and finished with a dusting of icing sugar just before serving. Gosh! (At the risk of boasting) I should admit that they tasted heavenly and disappeared minutes after they were done and to think that it takes so long to make them. Phew!
Choux pastry recipe from here
Chocolate ganache recipe from here
Pipe little circular discs of about 11/2 inches on a greased, lined baking tray and bake them for about 10-12 minutes until they are golden and done.
Using the tip of a sharp knife pierce the puffs when they are still in the oven and bake them for another two minutes. This allows the steam trapped from within to release and helps the pastry to cook from within.
Remove from the oven and let them cool down completely. Slice the top of the puffs but don’t cut them off completely.
Fill some of the chocolate custard into this, drizzle some chocolate ganache on top of this and dust with icing sugar. Chill for about 10 minutes before serving to allow the pastry to absorb all the chocolate.
Black forest eclairs
Since the cream puffs were everything about chocolate I wanted to do something different with the eclairs. I knew I could have filled them with fresh cream or pastry cream but I thought that it would be too sweet and I wanted something to cut through that sweetness. Just as I was wishing I had some fresh strawberries or kiwi fruit at hand, I spied on a bottle of strawberry jam. I remember using this to make Black forest cupcakes once, long ago, and they worked really well in lieu of cherries. So that’s just what I did and it was a real high when I saw what a second’s inspiration did – give birth to another favourite in the family, so much so that my Mom who doesn’t fancy eggs in desserts couldn’t stop popping them into her mouth and she had to actually ask me to hide them from her! That, for me, is just the icing on the cake.
Choux pastry recipe here
Chocolate ganache recipe here
1/2 cup of fresh cream, whipped with 1 tsp of powdered sugar
3 tbsp of Strawberry jam
Pipe the choux pastry batter into thick lines of about 3 inches on a greased baking tray and bake them for about 10-12 minutes until they are golden and done.
Using the tip of a sharp knife pierce the eclairs when they are still in the oven and bake them for another two minutes. This allows the steam trapped from within to release and helps the pastry to cook from within.
Remove from the oven and let them cool down completely. Slice the top of the eclairs but don’t cut them off completely.
|Just out of the oven|
To fill and finish the eclairs:
Apply a layer of cream on the bottom half of the eclair and then follow with a thick layer of strawberry jam.
Next, press the two parts of the eclair together and then apply a layer of chocolate ganache on top.
|On the way to the fridge|
Place the eclairs in the fridge for about 5-10 minutes before serving.
|And, we are done…|
*Ice cream and chocolate ganache is the classic combination for a cream puff and it is worth going that classic route even if it is just once as this will give you a better idea of what flavours you can introduce while experimenting.
*For filling the eclairs, don’t stop at jam or fresh fruit – there’s always maple syrup, a berry coulis, a compote of fresh fruit. Top it with caramel, butterscotch sauce, cinnamon glaze… the list goes on!
*While it is tempting to eat these cream puffs and eclairs the minute you are done, refrigerating them for a minimum of 10 minutes will help the pastry and the filling to hold together and seal the flavours too.