I was very, very excited about this month's Daring Baker Challenge. I was starting to get discouraged with the sheer amount of butter cream I was making every month. I've never been a fan of the taste of butter cream and so it was starting to feel like it was seeping out of my pores.
So I was so happy to see the Challenge take a new turn this month. Eclairs!!!!! The basic form for the recipe this month was from famed Pierre Herme. The rules stated by our lovely host blogger said that we needed to keep at least one chocolate element. Hmmm, nice. That wasn't going to take much arm twisting for me.
Lately, I've been craving Nutella. I can't keep it in the house because much like dulce de leche, Nutella falls into the category of Crack for me. So I thought I'd do a challenge that included nutella in some way, shape or form.
I decided that I'd make a Nutella "pastry" cream by mixing it with whipped cream and piping it into the pastry shells. This challenge was not only going to be interesting to me (as all of them are) but actually was going to be something I was excited about eating too.
I've never worked with choux pastry before and because there is a heating step to making the dough, I always assumed that choux was hard to make. And that couldn't have been further from the truth!
Luckily, E had already gotten all the ingredients together for us to use. So all I had to do was measure and mix. After I quickly measured and dumped everything into the heavy bottomed pan for heating, including the flour! Eeeek, I had to dump out my first try on the mix due to my flour mistake, but even still, the dough came together fast.
It looked really cool in the bottom of my pan. One cute little dough ball that later because a fairly sticky and gooey dough. Because I'm a fairly utiliartian cook/baker, I don't know a pastry bag or tips. Instead I loaded the dough into a 10 gallon plastic bag and cut off the tip. I considered making mini eclairs like Elizabeth had done but hers were very cute and I didn't want to compete with such cuteness. So I went the opposite direction and made big fat rounds out of the piped out choux pastry. Into the oven they went. I will say that we had to double, maybe even triple our baking time (well I did, of course, but so did E and she made the mini ones). So the baking time on the challenage seem a bit off. In any event, the puffs came out of the oven looking awesome. Behold!
They smelled divine. Egg-y and buttery. I was really excited. I let them cool and went about making a hole in the side of each of them so I could pipe in my whipped cream/nutella. Once I did that, I went ahead and nuked the nutella (or whole food equivelant that E found for me, thanks babe!) for 40 seconds. It was melty and perfect. After whipping my cream to firm peak form, close to butter, but not quite there, I folded in the melty nutella. Using yet another plastic pouch from my stash. I loaded the nutella whipped cream in and cut off the tip.
Much to my dismay, I couldn't pipe the cream into the holes I made. The choux pastry puffs were a bit more dense that I had imagined. So I gave up and just sliced them down the side and put the cream in the middle. It actually worked out better for me because it meant I could really load up the pastries with that yummy nutella whipped cream. Mmmm....
Afterwards, I drizzled on the glaze that Elizabeth had made for her eclairs. It had Iclandic dark chocolate in it. I broke off a piece and liked it alot. But I'll be honest. I didn't see much difference between that chocolate or hershey's dark chocolate. I guess I'm just a low brow girl ;)
I was very pleased with the final product.
Look at how cute they are! How did they taste? Um, let's see chocolate, nutella, whipped cream and freshly made choux pastry...that's a recipe for delicious!!! Needless to say, I was really pleased with the results. The choux was airy and eggy but still more dense than what I imagined it would be. I was actually very happy with the resulting pastry. Fairly simple to make, fairly cheap ingrediants and teedaaahh, eclairs!
The nutella whipped cream wasn't as complex in flavors as what Elizabeth did with hers. She used local Mexican chcolate bitters and added other spices as well to her filling. But there's something to be said for the simple. And since I was craving nutella, this challenge hit the spot with me!
Thanks for picking this as August's challenge. I absolutely loved it!!