Hi Everyone, it's Jane writing as the August Daring Bakers Challenge is revealed today. What was this month's challenge you ask? Something different for me anyway... chocolate eclairs! And while my eclairs may not win any beauty pageants, they tasted scrumptious! I will make this recipe for company next time.
So, details... This month's challenge was issued by MeetaK and Tony Tahhan. The original recipe comes from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Herme (visit Meeta or Tony for the challenge recipe). An eclair consists of a Pâte à Choux (dough), Pastry Cream (filling), and Chocolate Glaze. The challenge recipe called for a chocolate filling, which is not how Lane and I remember eclairs, but I was making enough modifications to the recipe (and a little more chocolate is usually a good thing).
Of course, the Pâte à Choux wasn't written as a vegan recipe, so I looked for a bit of help from the Alternative Daring Bakers. The suggested recipe the ADBs can be found here. I halved the recipe because we didn't want to wind up with a zillion eclairs, and wound up with 8 very small eclairs, which was perfect for the 4 of us who were tasting my results.
I'd never done this type of baking before and really enjoyed how the dough worked up.
Here's the recipe for the cream puff/eclair dough I used, including my modifications (note, this is the full recipe):
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 tablespoons Earth Balance
2 tablespoon Ener-G Egg Replacer whipped until stiff with 1/3 cup water
1 cup almond milk
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Line baking sheet with non-stick mat. Prepare egg-replacer. Stir together flour, sugar, salt, cream of tartar. In a non-stick sauce pan, bring the milk and margarine to a boil, stirring constantly. Add the flour mixture all at once, and reduce heat to low. Stir constantly until the dough forms a ball that pulls away from the pan and the spoon and is glossy and smooth. Smooth the dough and stir together a few times. Cooking time after flour is added should be about 3-5 minutes. Working quickly, remove from heat and add the egg replacer, about a third at a time, beating well after each addition until the dough is glossy, smooth, and pulls away from the pan. (I used my mixer with dough hook attachment, but that didn't work so wel.)
Shape the dough as desired. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, then lower heat to 350 for another 20 minutes, then turn off oven and allow to cool, with door slightly cracked for another 30 minutes, then cool completely on wire racks before serving or filling.
Some of the Daring Bakers had issues with their eclairs deflating. The general consensus was that the pastries were undercooked. Some of the ADBs used baking powder in place of the cream of tartar. I didn't make that change but baked everything much longer than the original recipe called for. None of my eclairs deflated and they were all cooked through and a light golden brown.
Also, I tried to pipe my eclairs, but that didn't work so well. So after I piped them, I wound up rolling them around in my palms a bit. Next time, I'll skip the piping.
As for fillings.... I did a chocolate filling and chocolate glaze. Hubby was very complimentary. The crust was light and flaky and definitely tasted as we remembered an eclair to taste. However, we both remember eclairs as having a custard-like filling, so the chocolate seemed a bit odd, but hey, it was chocolate and yummy anyway. I'm not including my recipe for the filling and glaze as they didn't come out well enough to recommend. But the original recipe is easy enough to veganize, if you're interested.