9/27/08

Lavash Crackers served with Mousse Truffeé

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Well, well, well... I decided to show my face here again... Where have I been?! Well, I'll tell ya. I got that LOVELY cold that's been going around (at least at my office) and seemingly the entire blogosphere. I got it the Monday before last and had it for a good week. I just could not bring myself to do much more than rest, so sitting in front of the computer was not an option. I haven't cooked much lately and I am missing it terribly. I also really missed all of you and sharing with you my favorite recipes. But I'm back now, feelin' good (finally!), and ready to kick this thing into high gear.

While I was away from here, I did spend some time on the internet seeing what else is out there for foodies. I came across sites like Foodbuzz and really liked the community aspect of it and the ability to share my recipes with more people. It's also an easy way to find great new food blogs. It's like MySpace, only made just for me!

But the reason I'm here today is to tell you about my latest completed Daring Bakers challenge! For September, the challenge was chosen by fellow Daring Bakers Natalie from gluten a go go and Shelly from Musings From The Fishbowl. They chose a savory challenge, which I was totally thrilled about because I'm first and foremost a savory person. The challenge was to make Lavash Crackers from Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice (pp 178 - 180).

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I found this challenge to be the easiest by far, but still very enjoyable. I now know that making my own crackers is not at all difficult and the possibilities in flavoring them and shaping them are endless.

I chose to flavor mine with cheese and chives. They ended up tasting like homemade Cheez its, but with style. For the cheese, I used gruyere and the chives were straight from the herb garden. I LOVE the taste of chives and to this day I cannot understand why some people don't like them.

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These crackers could have easily been eaten alone, but with some delicious Trois Petits Cochons' Mousse Truffeé, which is a mousse pâté made with pork and chicken livers and black truffles. I could have made my own pâté, and I'm sure I will in the future, but when it's this good bought off the store shelf, you almost have to ask yourself, why? Pick some up; it's to die for.

So how do you make these cute little crackers you ask? Here's how:

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In a mixing bowl, stir together the flour, salt, yeast, sugar, oil, and just enough water to bring everything together into a ball. You may not need the full 1/2 cup + 2 Tb of water, but be prepared to use it all if needed.

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If you're going to flavor your crackers, this is the time. I added a cup of grated gruyère cheese and a heaping 1/2 cup of chopped chives. Turn your mixer back on and knead the dough (using the dough hook) until the flavorings are all incorporated into the dough. Continue kneading the dough for about 10 more minutes until the dough becomes silky smooth and soft and it passes the window pane test (which basically means that you are able to stretch a small portion of the dough enough to wear you can see through it without it ripping on you).

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After your finished kneading the dough, lightly oil a bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Ferment at room temperature for 90 minutes, or until the dough doubles in size.

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When the dough is done fermenting, it's time to roll it out and shape the crackers. I chose to make them into cute little heart and star shapes using cookie cutters. It's because I'm a dork. I've come to terms with it, though. :-)

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Put your cracker cut-outs onto a sheet of parchment paper on a baking sheet and pop them into a 350 degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the crackers begin to brown evenly across the top. You're supposed to mist the raw crackers with water before baking them, but I totally forgot to do that. I think it might have made them shinier, but that's about it.

When they come out of the oven, hit them with some sea salt and they're done! Easy, huh? I will definitely make them again because I have a bunch more ideas of how to flavor them and they were just plain fun to make.

Well, gotta go for now. I'm off to the West Side Market to pick up some goodies for tonight's dinner. I'm back, baby!

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Lavash Crackers
RECIPE - Recipe Reference: The Bread Baker's Apprentice: Mastering The Art of Extraordinary Bread, by Peter Reinhart. Ten Speed Press, Berkeley, CA. Copyright 2001. ISBN-10: 1-58008-268-8, ISBN-13: 978-158008-268-6.

Here's a simple formula for making snappy Armenian-style crackers, perfect for breadbaskets, company and kids...It is similar to the many other Middle Eastern and Northern African flatbreads known by different names, such as mankoush or mannaeesh (Lebanese), barbari (Iranian), khoubiz or khobz (Arabian), aiysh (Egyptian), kesret and mella (Tunisian), pide or pita (Turkish), and pideh (Armenian). The main difference between these breads is either how thick or thin the dough is rolled out, or the type of oven in which they are baked (or on which they are baked, as many of these breads are cooked on stones or red-hot pans with a convex surface)...

The key to a crisp lavash,...is to roll out the dough paper-thin. The sheet can be cut into crackers in advance or snapped into shards after baking. The shards make a nice presentation when arranged in baskets.

Makes 1 sheet pan of crackers

* 1 1/2 cups (6.75 oz) unbleached bread flour or gluten free flour blend (If you use a blend without xanthan gum, add 1 tsp xanthan or guar gum to the recipe)
* 1/2 tsp (.13 oz) salt
* 1/2 tsp (.055 oz) instant yeast
* 1 Tb (.75 oz) agave syrup or sugar
* 1 Tb (.5 oz) vegetable oil
* 1/3 to 1/2 cup + 2 Tb (3 to 4 oz) water, at room temperature
* Poppy seeds, sesame seeds, paprika, cumin seeds, caraway seeds, or kosher salt for toppings

1. In a mixing bowl, stir together the flour, salt yeast, agave, oil, and just enough water to bring everything together into a ball. You may not need the full 1/2 cup + 2 Tb of water, but be prepared to use it all if needed.

2. For Non Gluten Free Cracker Dough: Sprinkle some flour on the counter and transfer the dough to the counter. Knead for about 10 minutes, or until the ingredients are evenly distributed. The dough should pass the windowpane test (see http://www.wikihow.com/Determine-if-Bre … ong-Enough for a discription of this) and register 77 degrees to 81 degrees Fahrenheit. The dough should be firmer than French bread dough, but not quite as firm as bagel dough (what I call medium-firm dough), satiny to the touch, not tacky, and supple enough to stretch when pulled. Lightly oil a bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.

or

2. For Gluten Free Cracker Dough: The dough should be firmer than French bread dough, but not quite as firm as bagel dough (what I call medium-firm dough), and slightly tacky. Lightly oil a bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.

3. Ferment at room temperature for 90 minutes, or until the dough doubles in size. (You can also retard the dough overnight in the refrigerator immediately after kneading or mixing).

4. For Non Gluten Free Cracker Dough: Mist the counter lightly with spray oil and transfer the dough to the counter. Press the dough into a square with your hand and dust the top of the dough lightly with flour. Roll it out with a rolling pin into a paper thin sheet about 15 inches by 12 inches. You may have to stop from time to time so that the gluten can relax. At these times, lift the dough from the counter and wave it a little, and then lay it back down. Cover it with a towel or plastic wrap while it relaxes. When it is the desired thinness, let the dough relax for 5 minutes. Line a sheet pan with baking parchment. Carefully lift the sheet of dough and lay it on the parchment. If it overlaps the edge of the pan, snip off the excess with scissors.

or

4. For Gluten Free Cracker Dough: Lay out two sheets of parchment paper. Divide the cracker dough in half and then sandwich the dough between the two sheets of parchment. Roll out the dough until it is a paper thin sheet about 15 inches by 12 inches. Slowly peel away the top layer of parchment paper. Then set the bottom layer of parchment paper with the cracker dough on it onto a baking sheet.

5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit with the oven rack on the middle shelf. Mist the top of the dough with water and sprinkle a covering of seeds or spices on the dough (such as alternating rows of poppy seeds, sesame seeds, paprika, cumin seeds, caraway seeds, kosher or pretzel salt, etc.) Be careful with spices and salt - a little goes a long way. If you want to precut the cracker, use a pizza cutter (rolling blade) and cut diamonds or rectangles in the dough. You do not need to separate the pieces, as they will snap apart after baking. If you want to make shards, bake the sheet of dough without cutting it first.

5. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the crackers begin to brown evenly across the top (the time will depend on how thinly and evenly you rolled the dough).

6. When the crackers are baked, remove the pan from the oven and let them cool in the pan for about 10 minutes. You can then snap them apart or snap off shards and serve.

9/11/08

Michelle Obama on Paula's Party!

Visit Yumsugar to find out more!

http://www.yumsugar.com/1980725

I'll definitely be watching!

Zucchini Pappardelle with Fine Herbs and Tomato

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I say let's go ahead and keep the zucchini theme going for another day today, shall we? If you have a garden, you're probably pulling your hair out right now trying to think of something different to do with all that zucchini; am I right? Sure, slicing it up, dipping it in flour, egg, and breadcrumbs and frying it is D-LICIOUS, as is the grilled version of the slices drizzled with olive oil, and seasoned with sea salt and pepper. But isn't there something MORE? Something a little more creative you can do with this delicious vegetable? ANYTHING?!?!

Well, that's how I was feeling about a month or so ago when I made this dish and I kid you not... I'm pretty sure I ate this whole dish with a perpetual smile on my face. The textures are great, the flavors are fantastic, and the look of it is just fun. Pasta noodles made out of zuccini? Cool! Well, at least that's how my brain works. It doesn't take much, folks... it doesn't take much.

I found this recipe on the Food Network site and it is courtesy of Emeril Lagasse back in 2003. On my list of people that I'd love to have a beer with, Emeril is definitely in the top 10. He just seems fun and you know has that "who gives a f..." attitude when it comes to what other people think. I love it.

This dish can be served as a side dish, or the base of a main dish (as I did), or a main dish as it is if you're not THAT hungry (or feel like eating like a bird that day). I made this recipe my own by browning up some hashbrown-style potatoes, then topping that with the zucchini pappardelle, along with some leftover browned ground pork, and well... I might have topped the whole thing off with a fried egg before I ate it. But once I did that, it just wasn't pretty anymore, so you don't get to see, ha!

So how do you make it? Well here's how:

Start with a beautiful zucchini,

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then, using a mandolin, thinly slice the zucchini into long strips that look like this:

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They'll still feel a little stiff, but that's ok... they get bendy and pasta-like after they've been cooked for a few minutes. So don't slice them too thin just so you can get them to feel like pasta right off the bat.

Now, I made this recipe a bit differently and cooked the vegetables in a different order, so you can decide which procedure sounds best to you. I started by heating olive oil in a large pan, then added the garlic and tomatoes and hit it with some salt and pepper. I simmered that for a few minutes, then added the basil. Remove the tomato mixture into a bowl and set aside.

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In the same pan, brown the ground pork. If you don't have ground pork, I think italian sausage would taste great in this or even chicken. Whatever meat you choose (or if not meat, just skip this step), add a little more olive oil to the pan, then brown the meat. Remove the browned meat from the pan into another bowl and set aside.

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In the same pan again, add a little more olive if needed, then add the onions (I used yellow onion instead of green because that's what I had), and hit them with salt, pepper, and red pepper flake for some heat. Saute them for a few minutes until softened. Then remove them from the pan into another bowl and set aside. (I really love to do dishes, ok!? haha)

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If you want to do like me and add some heartiness to this recipe, brown yourself up some hashbrowns. Just take a potato or two (depending on how many people you're cooking for) and shred it up in a food processor or on the biggest holes of a cheese grater. Then using a paper towel or cheesecloth, squeeze out the excess water from the shredded potatoes. Heat olive oil in a pan and add the potatoes to the pan. Season with salt and pepper.

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Allow the potatoes to cook for a few minutes, the scrape up with a spatula and repeat until they're as browned as you want them. Remove them from the pan and place a portion of them as the base of your finished dish.

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If you have any extra hashbrowns, set them aside. Now add the onions back to the same pan and your zucchini slices. Drizzle with a little olive oil and add the vermouth. Saute them for a few minutes until tender.

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Now add back the tomato mixture.

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And if you browned some meat, add that back to the pan now too. Cook for a few more minutes just until heated through. Toss in the herbs right at the end and stir.

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Serve the zucchini mixture on top of the bed of hashbrowns, then sprinkle some freshly grated parmesan on top. And hell, top it with a fried egg... because it's GOOD. ;-)


Zucchini Pappardelle with Fine Herbs and Tomato
Recipe courtesy Emeril Lagasse, 2003
Show: Emeril Live
Episode: Healthy Classics

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2 pounds medium zucchini (about 4)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves minced garlic
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 cup sliced green onions
2 tablespoons dry white vermouth
1 1/2 cups fresh tomato sauce, recipe follows
1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
1/4 cup fines herbs--equal parts minced fresh tarragon, sliced chives, pickled chervil, and chopped parsley leaves
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Trim the blossom off the zucchini. Use a mandolin and slice the zucchini lengthwise into very thin strips. Discard the center seedy pieces and separate the slices.

Warm the olive oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add the garlic, red pepper flakes, and green onions and cook until fragrant. Add the zucchini and toss until just barley wilted, about 3 minutes. Add the vermouth and bring to a boil. Add the tomato sauce and bring to simmer while tossing. Add cherry tomatoes and remove from heat. Add fines herbs and toss again. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Divide the pappardelle onto plates and shower with the cheese. Serve immediately.

Fresh Tomato Sauce:

2 pounds plum tomatoes (about 10), peeled, seeded and diced
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 large cloves garlic, smashed
1 sprig fresh basil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Put the tomatoes along with the olive oil, garlic, and basil in a saucepan. Season with salt and pepper, and bring to a simmer. Cook until saucey, about 15 minutes. Discard the basil leaf and transfer the sauce to a blender* and puree. Put the sauce in a bowl and set aside.

*When blending hot liquids: Remove liquid from the heat and allow to cool for at least 5 minutes. Transfer liquid to a blender or food processor and fill it no more than halfway. If using a blender, release one corner of the lid. This prevents the vacuum effect that creates heat explosions. Place a towel over the top of the machine, pulse a few times then process on high speed until smooth.

9/10/08

Vegetable Tian

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This right here might just be the best side dish ever made. This is a recipe by Ina Garten of Food Network's "Barefoot Contessa" and it is delicious. I've made it a couple times, Mark's mom has made it a few times, and every time it turns out great. The original recipe just calls for a bed of onions topped with slices of potato, zucchini, and tomato. Since I had an eggplant to use up, I decided to slice that up as well, grill it first, then add the grilled slices to the mix. This is also one of the easiest side dishes to make compared to how it looks when served. It's very "showy", which as you know, I really like. :-)

Here's how you put this dish together:

Start by slicing up your veggies and picking your fresh herbs.

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Next, heat some olive oil in a large pan and slowly cook the sliced onions for about 10 minutes until they are soft and begin to caramelize.

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I grilled up my eggplant drizzled with olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper over high heat.

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Lightly oil a glass baking dish with olive oil, then line the bottom with the caramelized onions. Next, alternate the different types of vegetables slices until the whole dish is filled.

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Drizzle olive oil over the whole thing, then season with salt, pepper, fresh thyme and add basil as I did if you like.

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Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake in a 375 degree oven for 40 minutes. Remove the dish from the oven and uncover.

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Sprinkle your choice of cheese over the whole thing, then bake uncovered for another 30 minutes.

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After you remove the tian from the oven, let it sit for a few minutes, then serve. Yum!



Vegetable Tian
Copyright, 2004, Barefoot in Paris, All Rights Reserved
Show: Barefoot Contessa

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Good olive oil
2 large yellow onions, cut in half and sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound medium round potatoes, unpeeled
3/4 pound zucchini
1 1/4 pounds medium tomatoes
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, plus extra sprigs
2 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Brush a 9 by 13 by 2-inch baking dish with olive oil. In a medium saute pan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil and cook the onions over medium-low heat for 8 to 10 minutes, until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Spread the onion mixture on the bottom of the baking dish.

Slice the potatoes, zucchini, and tomatoes in 1/4-inch thick slices. Layer them alternately in the dish on top of the onions, fitting them tightly, making only 1 layer. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, thyme leaves, and thyme sprigs and drizzle with 1 more tablespoon of olive oil. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the potatoes are tender.

Uncover the dish, remove the thyme sprigs, sprinkle the cheese on top, and bake for another 30 minutes until browned. Serve warm.

9/1/08

Pierre Hermé’s Chocolate Éclairs

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So how was everyone's Labor Day weekend? Mine was really good and really busy. So busy that I forgot to post my éclairs yesterday! Yes, these éclairs mark yet another Daring Baker's challenge finished and in the books.

Proud member of Daring Bakers I was so excited when I found out that August's Daring Baker's challenge was going to be éclairs. I had been wanting to try making a cream puff dough, or pâte à choux, ever since I saw Amy Finley make them on her short-lived Food Network show, The Gourmet Next Door. They looked easy, yet fun and the finished product is something everyone loves, even a person that isn't THAT into desserts.

The August DB challenge was hosted by Meeta K. of What's For Lunch Honey? and Tony of Olive Juice.

I decided to make these for a friend of mine's son's graduation party and from what I heard from a few party goers, they were quite tasty. I agreed; the finished product was a very light éclair filled with a chocolate custard that tasted very close to pudding. They were topped with a chocolate glaze and I decided to finish them off with some chopped pistachios since I have a bunch of them left from past recipe adventures. I decided to make them mini-sized since they were going to be party fare. Chocolate, chocolate, chocolate... just the way I like it!

Want to try these for yourself? Make up a batch! The weather outside will be cooling off in a few weeks, so what better time to make up a batch of yummy éclairs? Here's how to make them:

I started by making the chocolate sauce that is eventually used in creating the chocolate glaze. Note: you will have chocolate sauce left over and I can only imagine the countless things I can do with it... (Hey, I meant top some ice cream with it or something, geez! Get your mind out of the gutter!)

All you have to do to make the chocolate sauce is combine bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped, water, heavy cream, and sugar in a heavy bottom sauce pan and cook on low heat for about 10 to 15 minutes or until it's thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. See this chocolate sauce aside until you're ready to make the chocolate glaze, which really shouldn't be made until you're ready to use it.

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Next, I made the chocolate pastry cream. I started by bringing the milk to a boil in a sauce pan. In the meantime, I combined egg yolks, sugar and cornstarch together.

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Once the milk reached a boil, I tempered the yolks by whisking a couple spoonfuls of the hot milk into the yolk mixture.

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I continued whisking and slowly poured the rest of the milk into the tempered yolk mixture. Next, I strained the mixture back into the saucepan to remove any egg that may have scrambled. Next, I placed the pan over medium heat and whisked vigorously (without stop) until the mixture returned to a boil.

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I kept whisking vigorously for 1 to 2 more minutes (still over medium heat) until the mixture had a custard consistency.

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I then stirred in the melted chocolate and removed the pan from the heat.

I scraped the chocolate pastry cream into a 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. Once the cream reached a temperature of 140 F, I removed it from the ice‐water bath and stirred in the butter. I then returned the cream back to the ice-water bath stirring occasionally, until it had completely cooled. I stored the cream in the fridge until I needed it.

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Next, it was time to make the cream puff dough and pipe out the éclairs. To make the dough, start by bringing the milk, water, butter, sugar and salt to a boil.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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The dough should be still warm. It is now ready to be scooped into a pastry bag to pipe out the éclairs. I didn't use a tip at all, that way I was able to pipe chubby fingers onto the parchment paper. These "chubby fingers" will turn into the bodies of the éclairs after baking. As I mentioned before, I made mine miniature sized.

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Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Divide the oven into thirds by positioning the racks in the upper and lower half of the oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Using a pastry bag filled with the cream puff dough, pipe the dough onto the baking sheets. 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.

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Now, you can assemble these one of two ways. You can slice the pastries in half and fill them with the chocolate pastry cream that way, kind of like little sandwiches, and then drizzle the glaze on top. Or, you can do like I did and fill your pastry bag with the chocolate pastry cream, use a small star tip, and puncture the end of each pastry, squeezing the pastry bag gently to fill each éclair. Sometimes they would fill up the first try. Other times I had to fill them on both ends. As you can see in the finished-product picture, the pastry cream oozes out a bit, but it doesn't make a difference. It's still delicious.

So, if you're feeling a little "daring" and want to make something a little out of the ordinary, give these a try!



Pierre Hermé’s Chocolate Éclairs
Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé
(makes 20-24 Éclairs)

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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.



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.