Sunday, August 31, 2008

Daring Baker Challenge and many more challenges for me!!!

First off are my computer crashed on me. Yesiree folks my hard drive took the final spin an said good bye. I am devastated. I had backed up all of my documents so I think I am okay there but it is just such a pain and one of the worst times in my life to have had this happen. I know it is not the end of the world. I can still get emails via my iPhone and we still have T.'s laptop but it's just not the same. I also have most of my favorite blogs bookmarked on my computer so while I will be trying to keep up with you all I may fail miserably. My computer should be back up and running towards the middle of next week! I have the hard drive replaced but with it being the long weekend and all I am having some trouble getting the help I need! So see ya soon!

Anyway all of the pictures of this month's Daring Baker Challenge are in my computer. I do have one really crappy pic in my phone and one eclair that I shaped into a cream puff type shape in the fridge. so sadly these will have to do!

Onto my Daring Baker Challenge for this month. We got to make eclairs...Chocolate Eclairs to be exact. The challenge this month was hosted by Tony Tahhan and MeetaK.

This was such a fun challenge. I was even looking forward to doing it. I started it and finished it in one day. It really took only a couple of hours (that was even with me running to the grocery store for more eggs halfway through!!!). I think the reason that I really like this is because it was something that we all liked! Usually the challenges are a huge amount of food that takes days to make and no one in my house will have anything to do with it!!! I even had it done earlier in the month then normal.

I did have one major catastrophe. My eclairs came out of the oven looking wonderful. They were all high and puffy and I thought "well do I ever rock"!!! Two minutes after they were out of the oven they crashed and burned. They became flat as a pancake. I could barely even get a knife in between to cut them open. I think this may have something to do with the amount of humidity in South Florida in the summer time. Or is it something to do with baking at sea level? I seem to always have problems with things that need to puff or rise really fluffy. Even the bread that I bake in the summer is different from the bread that I am able to bake in the winter. Anyone know anything about baking in low altitude or high humidity?

Regardless I got them filled with some of the richest chocolate cream puff filling in the world and topped with some really incredible chocolate sauce. I decided not to do the glaze because I really thought there was quite enough chocolate in this already!

Thanks for a great challenge once again!!! Here is the recipe if anyone wants to try their hand at this incredible dessert!

Pierre Hermé’s Chocolate Éclairs Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé(makes 20-24 Éclairs)•
Cream Puff Dough (see below for recipe), fresh and still warm
1) Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). 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.2) 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.3) 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.

Notes:1) The éclairs can be kept in a cool, dry place for several hours before filling.Assembling the éclairs:•

Chocolate glaze (see below for recipe)

Chocolate pastry cream (see below for recipe)

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 or 35 – 40degrees C, as measured on an instant read thermometer). Spread the glaze over the tops of the éclairs using a metal icing spatula. Allow the tops to set and in the meantime fill the bottoms with the pastry cream.3) Pipe or spoon the pastry 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.
1) If you have chilled your chocolate glaze, reheat by placing it in a bowl over simmering water,stirring it gently with a wooden spoon. Do not stir too vigorously as you do not want to create bubbles.2) The éclairs should be served as soon as they have been filled.
Pierre Hermé’s Cream Puff Dough Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé(makes 20-24 Éclairs)
• ½ cup (125g) whole milk• ½ cup (125g) water• 1 stick (4 ounces; 115g) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces• ¼ teaspoon sugar• ¼ teaspoon salt• 1 cup (140g) all-purpose flour• 5 large eggs, at room temperature1) In a heavy bottomed medium saucepan, bring the milk, water, butter, sugar and salt to the boil.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, or using your handmixer or if you still have the energy, continue by hand. 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. It is now ready to be used for the éclairs as directed above.Notes:1) Once the dough is made you need to shape it immediately.2) You can pipe the dough and the freeze it. Simply pipe the dough onto parchment-lined baking sheets and slide the sheets into the freezer. Once the dough is completely frozen, transfer the piped shapes into freezer bags. They can be kept in the freezer for up to a month.
Chocolate Pastry Cream Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé
• 2 cups (500g) whole milk• 4 large egg yolks• 6 tbsp (75g) sugar• 3 tablespoons cornstarch, sifted• 7 oz (200g) bittersweet chocolate, preferably Velrhona Guanaja, melted• 2½ tbsp (1¼ oz: 40g) unsalted butter, at room temperature1) In a small saucepan, bring the milk to a boil. In the meantime, combine the yolks, sugar and cornstarch together and whisk in a heavy‐bottomed saucepan.2) Once the milk has reached a boil, temper the yolks by whisking a couple spoonfuls of the hot milk into the yolk mixture.Continue whisking and slowly pour the rest of the milk into the tempered yolk mixture.3) Strain the mixture back into the saucepan to remove any egg that may have scrambled. Place the pan over medium heat and whisk vigorously (without stop) until the mixture returns to a boil. Keep whisking vigorously for 1 to 2 more minutes (still over medium heat).Stir in the melted chocolate and then remove the pan from the heat.4) Scrape the pastry cream into a small bowl and set it in an ice‐water bath to stop the cooking process. Make sure to continue stirring the mixture at this point so that it remains smooth.5) Once the cream has reached a temperature of 140 F remove from the ice‐water bath and stir in the butter in three or four installments. Return the cream to the ice‐water bath to continue cooling, stirring occasionally, until it has completely cooled. The cream is now ready to use or store in the fridge.
1) The pastry cream can be made 2‐3 days in advance and stored in the refrigerator.2) In order to avoid a skin forming on the pastry cream, cover with plastic wrap pressed onto the cream.3) Tempering the eggs raises the temperature of the eggs slowly so that they do not scramble.
Chocolate Glaze Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé(makes 1 cup or 300g)
• 1/3 cup (80g) heavy cream • 3½ oz (100g) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped• 4 tsp (20 g) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces, at room temperature• 7 tbsp (110 g) 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. Notes: 1) If the chocolate glaze is too cool (i.e. not liquid enough) you may heat it briefly
 in the microwave or over a double boiler. A double boiler is basically a bowl sitting over (not touching) simmering water.2) It is best to glaze the eclairs after the glaze is made, but if you are pressed for time, you can make the glaze a couple days ahead of time, store it in the fridge and bring it up to the proper temperature (95 to 104 F) when ready to glaze.
Chocolate Sauce Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé (makes 1½ cups or 525 g)
• 4½ oz (130 g) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped • 1 cup (250 g) water• ½ cup (125 g) crème fraîche, or heavy cream • 1/3 cup (70 g) 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.
1) You can make this sauce ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator for two weeks. Reheat the sauce in a microwave oven or a double boiler before using.2) This sauce is also great for cakes, ice-cream and tarts.

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!



Anonymous said...

OK...your eclairs look fattening, decadent and everything an eclair should be! GREAT photo...congrats

Thistlemoon said...

It looks great Judy! I am so sorry that you have had to deal with all these issues, but at least it is a good excuse to go to the beach! :)

My eclairs fell flat too - even though we put up the AC like you suggested??? Not sure what the deal is, but now that you mention it, my bread has fallen flat a few times this summer too!

Judy said...

I'm by the ocean, too -- sea level and humidity, but I experimented last night with a slightly different baking approach. Start at lower heat, increase the temperature for about 15 minutes or so, then drop the temperature again. Worked like a charm. Good luck with everything.

hexe said...

Now that is true dedication to being a Daring Baker - a computer crash and still you have your post up. Great work!

Dragon said...

Sorry to hear about your computer but I'm glad you were able to find a couple of photos of these lovely eclairs. I had the same problem with my first batch of pastry. So you're not alone. Great job!

Lot-O-Choc said...

Hope your computer is ok :).
I still think your photos look great though and I bet the eclairs were delicious :)
well done :)

Anne said...

Aww, hope your computer feels better soon! :) Great job on the challenge.

Judy@nofearentertaining said...

Thanks Tenina!

Hey Jenn we were all set to beach it but we seem to be having some issues from Gustav. So beach day was canceled. I guess there is always tomorrow!

Hi Judy-Love the new approach to this and will definitely be trying that method!

Hi hexe-I sucked it up and got on with business!

Hi dragon-Thanks for the sympathy!

Hi natalie-Isn't it sad how attached we are to our computers? The eclairs were delicious!

Hi anne-Thanks so much for the sympathy and the comps!

Chou said...

Horrid computer. I actually like collapsed eclairs (blush), they're just so chewy and yummy. And then you don't feel bad dipping them right into the pastry cream and cramming your mouth full.

glamah16 said...

I hop[e the com[uter issues clear up. Thats a pain. But you shpuld be proud of your eclairs! Collapaed or not I bet they were delicious. The vream looks excellent.

Anonymous said...

I had the same problem with collapsing eclairs... The recipe didn't call for enough baking time. I used my convection feature for the 2nd batch and they doubled in size! Yours still look great, though!

Lunch Buckets said...

Sorry to hear about your loss, but I'm glad you all liked the eclairs. Here? Not so much...

Anonymous said...

Sounds like you had more challenges than you needed this month! Your eclairs, however, look effortless and beautiful!

Wendy said...

Great looking eclairs! I lost all my bookmarks once... discovered - a wonderful place where you can save your bookmarks and retrieve them anywhere (great when you work in a different place than home!) I can not wait to try these eclairs - perhaps this weekend!

Danni said...

Ohhhh Yummmmm....I *love* chocolate eclairs. But why in the world didn't you call ME when you ran out of eggs? :-) I've got 4 dozen just sitting in my refrigerator right now!
I would love to try this recipe, but I find myself a bit daunted by any recipe that I have to scroll multiple times downa page to read! LOL
you are the Queen of desserts, judy....make me some of these, puhleeeze? :-) :-)

Núria said...

Hola Judy!!! I think the pictures of your Eclairs look beautiful! You were quick to take the pictures before they became flat ;D. Am I too bad if I tell you that it makes me laugh a little when I imagine them desinflating in front of your eyes? Ai, forgive my nonsense!
So sorry about your computer darling. Maybe it's time to get your own laptop? ;D

Anonymous said...

Your eclairs look delicious, Judy! I'm so sorry about your computer...I recently went through some issues as well, and it ain't fun. :P Here's to quick service for you!

Anonymous said...

I like your eclairs a lot! They look great!

Judy@nofearentertaining said...

Hi chou-You are right about the horrid computer! Not too sure about you liking collapsed eclairs!LOL

Hey Courtney-It is a pain! They really were delicious!

Hi Candace-Yeah I think between the baking time and the humidity. I used convection but they started to get too brown too fast!

Hey Lunch buckets-Thanks for the sympathy. Sad that you all don't like eclairs!

Hi Ann-Definitely full on the challenges for last month!

Hi Wendy-Thanks for the info. You'll love the eclairs!

Hey Danni-I thought of you as that last egg went sliding down my sink! Honestly it just looks intimidating. Email me and I can tell you the shortcuts!

Hey Nuria-You are bad but that's why I love you! I stole my daughter's laptop so I am in business again until mine is properly fixed!

Hey Nikki-Thanks for the well wishes!

Elle said...

So sorry about your computer! Hope you get it back sooner than later.

your photo still looks great to me!

Dharm said...

Sorry about your computer but those eclairs look just lovely! Sorry its taken me so long to get to you this month but..well, I've just been lazy! LOL