After all that white chocolate used in my L’Opera, I was craving for something dark and bittersweet. Dark and bittersweet are, after all, how I like my chocolate. I love the sophisticated yet sinful taste it has, the exquisitely long time it takes to melt, and the little tug it leaves at the back of your mouth when it’s all but gone.
And now it’s supposed to be a Super Food! It is loaded with antioxidants that can improve health. Flavonoids, the antioxidant found in dark chocolate (and tea!), can help lower blood pressure and keep your arteries from clogging. The more cocoa solids the better, so check your label and look for the stuff that’s 70% and up! I always knew dark chocolate was super...flavonoids or no :)
So as not to wait too long to get a dark chocolate fix, I decided I would incorporate it into my very next baking project lined up (Donna Day!). Ok, that was a sneaky excuse...it would have been quicker just to buy a bar of it! But humor me and my whims, and let me bake when I want to (even if there is hardly anyone around to eat what comes out of my oven!**).
I had already been eyeing the double chocolate éclairs in Donna Hay’s Simple Essentials Chocolate when Suzana from Home Gourmets (delicious food, gorgeous photos...oh my!), winner of the last round of Hay Hay It’s Donna Day, announced this round’s theme to be choux. Hooray! I love it when a plan comes together...especially if it results in chocolate confections for me to eat :)
Double Chocolate Éclairs
(from Donna Hay’s Simple Essentials Chocolate, page 50)
- 1 cup water
- 100 grams butter, chopped
- 3/4 cup all purpose flour
- 5 eggs
- 1 quantity chocolate crème pâtissière
- Melted dark chocolate, for topping
- Place the butter and water in a saucepan and cook until butter is melted and mixture starts to simmer.
- Add flour to the saucepan and beat with a wooden spoon until smooth. Keep stirring over low heat until the mixture leaves the sides of the pan.
- Remove from heat and place the mixture in the bowl of an electric mixer. Add eggs one by one, beating well in between each egg (make sure the one is incorporated before adding the next!).
- Spoon mixture into a piping bag with a 1/2 plain nozzle. Pipe onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet: in 3-inch lengths for the éclairs and 1-inch in diameter mounds for the puffs.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes in a 180C (350F) oven until golden and puffed up (mine stayed in for longer than 25 minutes).
- Cool on wire racks.
- Halve éclairs and puffs and fill bases with chocolate crème pâtissière. Dip the top halves in the melted chocolate and let set (I took the photo above before the chocolate set). Sandwich tops to bottoms.
Chocolate Crème Pâtissière
(from Donna Hay’s Simple Essentials Chocolate, page 88)
- 2 cups/500 ml milk
- 200 grams chopped dark chocolate (I used Valrhona 70%)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 4 egg yolks
- 1/3 cup caster sugar
- 1/3 cup cornflour/cornstartch
- Place milk, chocolate, and vanilla in a saucepan and bring to a boil (be watchful that it doesn’t burn!).
- Whisk together egg yolks and sugar until thick and pale. Add the cornflour and whisk to combine.
- Slowly pour in the hot milk, whisking continuously.
- Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and simmer rapidly while whisking continuously for 5 minutes or until thick. Remove from heat.
- Place a piece of parchment paper directly on top of the pastry cream and set aside to cool.
I have made choux only one other time in my life so I was not that confident. It ’s really not that difficult though...considering the puffy and proud results! Definitely a case of maximum bang for minimal buck. I did encounter a spot (or two) of trouble. The two things Suzana specifically warned us about! Sigh...why do I not listen when I’m supposed to?
The first thing she mentioned was that she had to add more flour because the mixture was looking too soft even before adding the eggs. I should have taken note! And I live in a place that is chock-full of humidity...so you can just imagine! Next time I am definitely adding a bit more flour. The second tip was to make sure not to under bake the choux. Although I gave it a few more minutes in the oven, my first batch came out undercooked and deflated slightly after a while. (insert good cry here) I baked my second batch longer (longer than the recommended 20-25 minutes) and they came out nice and puffed and stayed that way...yay! I may even bake it slightly longer next time. I decided to make a combination of éclairs and puffs because, although I like the filling to pastry ratio of éclairs more, puffs are more fun to watch rise in the oven!
The chocolate crème pâtissière was lovely! Rich, creamy, not too sweet...and I have some extra! Suggestions on what to do with it (aside from eat with a spoon because I’ve already done that) are welcome :)
For the glaze I just melted a bar of dark chocolate and it worked fine. The combination of dark chocolate on dark chocolate was perfect...at least for me. I’m the type of girl that likes chocolate ice cream on her brownie a la mode you see. I will definitely make this again...I need to perfect my choux! And get my share of super foods ;)
HHDD Update: Barbara of winosandfoodies.com, the brilliant creator of Hay Hay It's Donna Day has decided, after building HHDD into the fabulous blog event that it has become, that it is time to let her spread her wings and leave home :) HHDD is now continuing to blossom under the caring eye of Bron, her new gaurdian :)
On another note: I am loving Simple Essentials Chocolate! I may be horribly biased, being such a Donna Hay fan, I know. Normally, I am no proof against Donna’s beautiful styling and temptingly simple recipes. But all in Chocolate? I am lost (sigh of bliss)...totally and irrevocably. Now, don’t think I only want to stick to what looks simple! I also have this book (another sigh of bliss)...and I mean to use it (soon)!
**I am happy to report that all the éclairs found good homes with friends!