Thursday, November 15, 2007

The best dessert that I've ever made!

Last year, I asked Andreas' mom what her favourite dessert that her mother had made was. She said that it was chocolate eclairs. I was surprised that you could make them at home because I always connected them with expensive french pastry shops. This fall, I found the recipe for chocolate eclairs in what is now my favourite cookbook! I was planning on making them for my cousin who just turned 18. A few days before, I was siting around with two friends, Bridget and Isa, and we were talking about this dessert, and since they were going to be at this dinner where I was going to serve the wonderful pastries, they got quite involved in suggesting different ways to serve these. Their main suggestion was that instead of pre-glazing the eclairs with chocolate, why not wait until serving them and then pour the hot chocolate all over them. In France, these are called profiteroles and are shaped like balls instead of...well...cylinders. They were surprisingly easy to make.

Here is the recipe from the "River Cottage Family Cookbook":

makes about 15 balls:
Butter, 75g
Water, 200ml
A pinch of salt
Strong plain flour, 100g (I used half regular flour and half bread flour, but I think that just regular flour is fine)
3 eggs
250ml whipping cream

Caster sugar, 100g (I used regular sugar)
Water, 100ml
Dark chocolate, 50g
Unsalted butter, 25g

1. Switch on oven to 200C. Dice the butter, put it into medium saucepan with the water and salt and switch on the heat to low. Stir with wooden spoon. While butter melts, sift flower into a small bowl.

2.When the butter has melted, turn up the heat and bring to a boil. Switch off the heat and quickly add the flour into the saucepan. Immediately beat the flour into the liquid with the wooden spoon to mix all together. After a few seconds, you'll find that the mixture swells into a smooth dough that comes away from the sides of the saucepan.

3. Let the mixture cool for 3-4 min. Crack the eggs into a bowl and whisk with a fork. Pour a little of the egg into the flour mixture and beat it in well. Keep adding and beating in the egg, a little at a time, until the dough looks thick,smooth and shiny and holds its shape well. You may not need to add the last 2 tbsp. of egg if they were large eggs. I should look like this:

4. Spoon the mixture into a freezer bag, fold down the top of the bag to squeeze the dough to the bottom. Snip off one of the bottom corners of the bag to give you a hole about 1cm long.(I just used a piping bag and it worked as well).

5. THIS IS WHERE YOU DECIDE TO MAKE ECLAIRS OR PROFITEROLES: Line the baking sheets with baking parchment paper (foil would probably work too). Squeeze the mixture into small sausage shapes for eclairs or into blobs for the profiteroles, allowing about 4cm space between them (they double in size). You should be able to make between 12-17.

6.Place the baking sheet in the hot oven and leave for about 30 min. When they are ready, they should be puffed up, a good golden brown all over and feel hard when you poke one with a knife. Take out of oven.

7. Immediately take each off the sheet and cut a small slit in each of them to release the steam (if not, they'll go soggy). Leave them to cool on a rack.

8. While cooling, whip the cream. Put in fridge while you make the icing.

9. For the icing, put the sugar and water in small saucepan, place on stove and turn it on low. Heat gently, stirring all the time with a wooden spoon to dissolve the suggar. bring to a boil for 3min. Switch off the stove and wait a few minutes for the syrup to cool down.

10. When it's warm, rather than very hot, add teh chocolate and chunks of butter. Stir until both have melted and blended to a smooth, glossy sauce. If making the profiteroles, add a bit of milk to thin it out a little. Leave to cool, stirring occasionally. When the sauce starts to thicken, it's ready to ice the eclairs.

11. When the buns are cool, pipe in the cream from the slit that you made before (you could also use a teaspoon instead of the piping bag). If making the eclairs, take a teaspoon and smear the chocolate generously over each eclair. If making the profiteroles, put about three in a small bowl for each guest and pour the warm chocolate over it.

I had leftovers so I brought them to a friends house the next day. I prepared the sauce from home and before leaving, i just poured it over the dessert in a tupperware.

They loved them! i loved them! I'm going to try to make them for Christmas this year, maybe for Andreas' mom if we get there early enough on christmas eve. I'm also submitting the recipe to a contest on the She-Knits Ravelry page.

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