Chocolate eclairs with dulce de leche pastry cream

Yes, it´s all about dulce de leche around here lately, but in my defense, it was too tempting not to go that route. You see, this month´s Daring Bakers challenge, as chosen by Meeta and Tony is Pierre Herme´s Chocolate Eclairs.

His are filled and glazed with chocolate, but I´ve never been one of those people who enjoy chocolate on chocolate. Maybe a chocolate cake with a ganache, but the cake has to have some extra flavor in there at least. And we were given the choice to either change the filling or the glaze, so I decided to change the filling since I figured the glaze would be straightforward enough. Wrong! I couldn´t believe my eyes when I was reading the recipe and realized that the chocolate glaze called for chocolate sauce as one of the ingredients, yes, recipe within a recipe, gotta love that.

In Herme´s defense though, that base chocolate sauce was great, very simple, and there was plenty leftover, so I got to test its awesomeness over and over again. But still, I like to keep things simple, so a simple ganache would have worked perfectly for me as a glaze for the eclairs.

But enough bitching, and let´s get down to business. For the filling, I immediately thought of dulce de leche since that´s one of the traditional fillings for cream puffs here in Argentina. And you would be right if you assume that to be over-the-top sweet. At least for me it is. But many traditional desserts with dulce de leche in Argentina are what we call “empalagoso” (meaning the kind of sweet that makes your mouth “cringe”). So you can imagine that if there´s a special word for it, there must be plenty of times when that word is necessary… even if my older brother says there is not such thing in the world as a dessert that is empalagoso, but anyways, I´m getting sidetracked here.

What I was pointing towards with this little detour of mine is that, at least for my taste, the filling couldn´t be just dulce de leche, straight up. So I decided to do a little experimentation and create a dulce de leche pastry cream. What I did is just using a regular pastry cream recipe (Dorie Greenspan´s to be precise), and adding 1/2 cup of dulce de leche to each cup of room temperature pastry cream. So I did half of that, and I used the other half of the pastry cream I had prepared as a lemon-infused filling, by adding tons of lemon zest to the half of the pastry cream I was using for this as soon as I took if off the heat (of course, if you are doing it all lemon, you can add the zest to the milk from the beginning). Another good choice for a dulce de leche filling would be to mix whipped cream with dulce de leche and use that as a filling. I personally liked the pastry cream version better for this, but the other one is still great, and it is faster, so I won´t judge you if you go that route.

Overall, the recipe wasn´t too difficult, just a little fuzzy. But it did have the unpleasant side effect of wrecking havoc in my poor little kitchen… I swear, every little thing in there was covered in chocolate.

Oh, and another thing, beware of the recipe layout, it can make you a little dizzy, like when it tells you to use the cream puff dough while it´s warm, but you had forgotten to preheat the oven early enough because it must have said that in the first page, leading to a nice freakout, and a not-hot-enough oven. And you want a hot oven when it comes to eclairs.

Don´t get me wrong, though, I did enjoy the results, oh, yes I did!

And for a thousand ideas for eclair fillings and toppings, check out what the other Daring Bakers did with this recipe.

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 – 40
degrees 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.

Notes:
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 temperature

1) 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.

Dulce de leche pastry cream (adapted from Dorie Greenspan´s recipe found here)

- makes about 2 cups -

Ingredients

2 cups whole milk
1 plump, moist vanilla been, split and scraped (or vanilla extract added after you remove the cream from the heat)
6 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch, sifted
3 1/2 tablespoons (1 3/4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened and cut into 3 pats
1 cup of dulce de leche

Procedure

1. Bring the milk and vanilla bean (pulp and pod) to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cover the pan, turn off the heat, and allow the milk to infuse for at least 10 minutes or for up to 1 hour.

2. If the milk has cooled, it will need to be reheated now.

3. Whisk the yolks, sugar, and cornstarch together in a heavy-bottomed medium saucepan. Whisking constantly, drizzle one-quarter of the hot milk over the yolks. When the yolks are warm, whisk the remainder of the milk into the yolks in a steadier stream; remove and discard the pod (or save it to make vanilla sugar).

4. Put the pan over medium heat and, whisking vigorously, bring the mixture to the boil. Keep at the boil—still whisking energetically—for 1 to 2 minutes before pulling the pan from the heat and pressing the cream through a sieve into the small bowl. Let the cream sit for 5 minutes, then whisk in the butter. (You can also do a pastry cream infused with lemon adding lemon zest to the milk or adding it to the pastry cream as soon as you take it off the flame, as I did because I was using only half of it for lemon, and the other half for the dulce de leche variation.) Cover the cream with a piece of plastic wrap—press the wrap against the cream—and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled. You can speed up the chill by putting the bowl in a larger bowl filled with ice cubes and cold water. Once it has chilled at least to room temperature, add the dulce de leche and mix it all in.

(Keeping: Covered tightly with plastic wrap, pastry cream can be refrigerated for 2 days. To smooth the chilled cream, whisk it for a few seconds.)

Chocolate Pastry Cream
Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by PierreHermé

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 temperature

1) 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.

Notes:
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.

Notes:
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.

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39 Comments

Filed under Daring bakers, food, sweet

39 responses to “Chocolate eclairs with dulce de leche pastry cream

  1. I was confused by the directions too – too much flipping back and forth between printed out pages! I love the dulce de leche pastry cream idea, and I have to agree with your brother; there is no such thing as a dessert that is empalagoso :)

  2. sleepingbear

    Marcela, no way you could have gone wrong with Dulce de leche, even if you weren’t in Argentina!!!! I know you think it too sweet but it is an all time favorite for me. And lemon as well, great choices!!!! I agree about the recipe within a recipe, simple is the way to go, if ya ask me!!! Great go at it and I hope all is well!!!!

  3. cookingupafamily

    I love your eclairs, sounds great with dulce de leche. I too can not do the double chocolate. just not my thing, need more flavors!

  4. Yummy! I love your flavor combo ideas! Delish!

  5. BTW, Thanks for the dulce de leche pastry cream how to. I’m going to have to try it!

  6. OK, next time I make this cream I’m using your recipe for the dulce de leche cream. I wonder how that tastes on….

  7. Great job! Looks yummy!

  8. I think this is a great idea for a filling. I love how gooey the dulce turned out. Your marble icing sure is pretty too.

  9. Oh my. I xould eat one of those with some strong coffee to balance out the sweetness. Great idea for the fillings.

  10. Very well done! Your Eclairs look terribly good!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  11. HAR! You so funny :)

    I had chocolate everywhere too.. from my kitchen out to our deck (where I took the pictures). Was hard keeping Nigel & Chloe away. :P

    I agree, too, dulce de leche & chocolate might make my back teeth sing.. but I can’t do caramel & chocolate so that’s why – but hot damn if I wouldn’t “force” myself to try one if you set them in front of me!!

    Love the lemon & chocolate – that’s the way I went too.

    Hugs to you and my niece!!

    xoxxoxoxo

  12. Just love the way your finished eclairs look. And my husband would agree with your older brother, wholeheartedly.:)
    This challenge was good but the cleaning up wasn’t, true.

  13. I love dulce de leche. I read and reread the recipe several times or I’d have had the same issues. Of course, I had my own issues. Great blog.

  14. i love the addition of dulche de leche!! what a fabulous challenge you did here!! love them!

  15. ARGHH!! Dulce de leche!! Great pairing you have there! ;)

  16. Oh my goodness. Those look wonderful! I’m a dulce de leche eater myself so can imagine that they must have been great.

  17. Marce, our heads were in the same place on this in so many ways. I did caramel, too. Not quite dulce de leche, but pretty decadent. Yep, recipe in a recipe in a recipe for it. And yep — a kitchen covered in chocolate! Your eclairs look luscious!

  18. The marbling on top is very lovely. I’ve recently fallen in lust with duce de leche–I should keep this filling flavour in mind…

    j

  19. Aaron

    Dulce de leche is from Argentina, sudamérica..;)
    Good byee

  20. No matter how careful I am, I always get chocolate all over my kitchen whenever I have to glaze anything. I wish I could try one of your dulce de leche eclairs. They sound great!

  21. Not only did my kitchen end up covered in chocolate, but I did too :)

    Your eclairs are delectable! I adore dulce de leche but I would never have thought to use it in a pastry cream. I’ll definitely be trying that out myself.

  22. I used lemon too – YUM! Your eclairs are gorgeous!

  23. Hey it just had to be dulce de leche cream! Really beautiful flavor, had to be. And the marbling: awesome!

  24. Well,if Lisa can’t do chocolate and dulce de leche together…I sure can!!! They are perfect….and you getting sidetracked?!!! Ahahahah :)

  25. Wow, beautiful decorations on top. And I love the flavors you chose. Well done.

  26. lovely idea! dulche de leche in eclairs sounds delightful. marce they look great and thanks for giving these a go!

  27. Dulce de leche cream is an inspired choice. Yum!

  28. Amber

    How can you go wrong with dulce de leche ever ever ever. The only thing I like almost as well as chocolate. This was a great idea.

  29. Oh my goodness, dulce de leche filling, you had me at eclair!

  30. Great job on your eclairs!!! And yum on the dulce de leche filling…good choice.

  31. These look fab. The chocolate saucy was messy but worth it. Love the idea of using dulce de leche for the filling

  32. Your eclairs look fabulous! I love the drizzled design on top. Dulce de leche sounds yummy. Wendy

  33. I would expect nothing less than dulce de leche from you, it looks fabulous!

  34. Delish! Can you send me one via email:)))).

  35. I liked knowing very much your blog it has very good receipts.

  36. Fist time on your blog..wow is the word…simply astounding posts !

  37. I like your posts, its so yummie.

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