Friday, April 15, 2011

ffwd - vanilla eclairs

This week's recipe is for a treat that you'd normally pick up at a fancy French bakery. But as you read through the recipes, you find that it's really a combination of a couple of fairly easy components - a baton-shaped cream puff and vanilla pastry cream. These are combined and topped with a simple glaze. Though Dorie offered a few suggested variations, I decided to stick with vanilla. 

for the first part of the recipe - the puffs, I assembled my ingredients

the liquids and butter are brought to a boil in a saucepan

flour is added all at once, and then combined until it holds together
you can see the film on the bottom of the pan - that's when you know you're ready
to move on to the next step

in my years of making these, until I found Dorie,
I'd always mixed in the eggs by hand
luckily, she has great ideas, and I'll never go back to using
anything other than a stand mixer
it makes for the perfect shiny dough once the eggs are incorporated

since these puffs needed to be shaped, I decided to use
my favorite trick - a ziplock bag - to form them
I'll get to throw away that whole mess once I'm done

I formed about half of the dough for the eclairs

but since I didn't need them all, I formed the remainder into
mini cream puffs and also circles
the next recipe in AMFT is for Paris-Brest
a treat created to celebrate a bike race!
it sounds wonderful, and on another day, I'd like to try them
so I wanted to form some to put into the freezer to bake later
see my bag at the bottom? empty and ready to throw away!

once the puffs were piped out, I used my finger, dipped in water, to
flatten out the points so that they will bake into nicely-shaped rounds 

the baked puffs
I should have let them sit in the turned-off oven for a bit
they eventually fell a bit and flattened

on to the pastry cream!

this was my first little challenge - my yolks and cornstarch mixture was pretty clumpy

after whisking and whisking with the milk, it was still a mess
so I used my trusty hand-blender and smoothed it all out!
(I wish I'd just used a bit of the cold milk with the yolks and cornstarch
to get a smooth paste, and then added the simmering milk)

next semi-disaster? as the mixture heated up, it got lumpy again!
but with a little vigorous whisking, it came back together to the smooth
creaminess I was looking for

in goes the vanilla

and then the butter
once this is complete, it goes to the refrigerator to get chilled

my cream puffs, ready to serve
the icing came off a bit on the wrap as they chilled in the refrigerator

and these are the Coconut Friands that I made
using the leftover egg-whites
I've made them plain, but here I added a little bittersweet chocolate to some, and
macadamias to others
I liked these and they were fun to make. But I think I'll leave the eclairs to the pastry shop. I'd probably enjoy variations (still looking forward to the Paris-Brest), but not something that I'm compelled to make again anytime soon.

On the other hand, the coconut friands are definitely a terrific find. I'm looking forward to playing around more with changing them up. And it's super-nice to have a dessert that's super-yummy, tiny, and stays nice for a few days.

I'm looking forward to seeing what everyone else came up with. Should be fun!!


  1. These look great! I'm glad you left some of them without the glaze. I prefer a glaze-less pastry!

  2. Love the circles! (I am right with you on the zip lock...nothing to clean & you can get a tip any width you want it on demand).

  3. Oh...I want to try the Paris Brest one too! Nice post.

  4. Oh what a great tip about wetting your finger and smoothing down the points on the tops of the pastry! Next time I am totally going to do that =) Great post and I love your pictures!

  5. I'm looking forward to the Paris Brest too. Great process photos!

  6. You mixed the dough by hand pre-Dorie...are you an arm wrestler? That must've taken a lot of strength! Your eclairs look pretty fine and puffy, while the Paris-Brest circles have me intrigued.

  7. They look good and I'm excited to try the friands.

  8. The friands look fantastic as the eclairs. I thought of getting an arm workout and whisking the eggs into the pate choux myself, but after making two half-batches of pastry cream... NAH! I'd love to see the finished Paris Brest.

  9. Lovely eclairs and friands! I made italian meringue with the leftover whites to cover a layer cake :)

  10. The coconut friands look yummy - can't wait to try those.