My online bake-a-long group is making Dorie Greenspan’s Bubble Éclairs from her Baking Chez Moi cookbook this week, and I chose to make them with a crackle topping. They were definitely tasty, and also definitely more of a learning experience than I expected, even with previous éclair-making experience.
Things I learnt while making them:
- If the DH says that something is burning, the éclairs are NOT burning, and in fact, are underdone.
- One should leave the éclairs in the oven until browner than one thinks is good (remember that ‘French bake’!) or they’ll collapse on you faster than you can say ‘souffle’. Ask me how I know. *le sigh*
- 1/2 the amount of crackle-top topping that Dorie recommends is just right.
- When Dorie says to use two cookie trays, she doesn’t mean squeeze it all onto one tray. Really. Because your bubble éclairs will become one giant éclair, and then separate into mini éclairs. Missing the point of the bubble.
- My eyes are bigger than my stomach, aka I can eat fewer éclairs than I think and I should have halved the recipe. *groans and clutches stomach* But I also should have doubled the amount of whipped cream that I made.
I think that sums up my experience! Now let me break it down:
Éclairs are such a fancy looking dessert, but they’re really not that hard to make. You mix up the (very egg-y) batter, pipe it onto a baking tray, bake it, let it cool, and then pipe it full of something delicious, such as pastry cream, chocolate mousse, or whipped cream.
I chose to do the crackle-top éclairs, as I couldn’t find any of the coarse pearl-type sugar that Dorie talks about. I even dragged the DH to IKEA on the weekend, ostensibly to look at buying a wall unit, but in reality, to search out the sugar that Dorie says is available there. And if the DH is reading this: “Hi Honey! Hey, it was two birds with one stone, yes? Now have an éclair!” And by the way, the sugar wasn’t available at IKEA. (On the bright side, we’ve settled on a wall unit for the bedroom!)
How to make the éclairs? One makes the crackle-top dough (tastes like sugar cookie dough, btw), cuts out little circles (I used a champagne glass), and freezes them.
Then you mix up the éclair batter by boiling the butter, milk, sugar, salt, and water in a saucepan, then mixing in the flour until a paste-y sort of dough forms. Switch the batter to a mixer, and add in the eggs one at a time, until batter is shiny. Pipe it onto a silicone mat lined cookie tray, place the frozen crackle top circles on top, and pop it into the oven to bake.
As I said, éclairs really aren’t hard to make. Unless you under-bake them, and then all your hard work goes ‘poof’. Some pictorial proof.
When I took the éclairs out of the oven, they were perfect! All golden-domed and perfectly baked, high and proud. Admittedly, I did squeeze all the dough onto one cookie tray, and Dorie does say to use two, but I thought hey, it fits! Until it baked up and it didn’t. The tray became one giant bubble éclair. Which isn’t a problem, really, right? It’s like a croquembouche, but flat! A new dessert design! Then 5 minutes passed and the lovely golden domes went pffft, becoming crackled-topped pancakes. Ok, so not that bad, but that’s what it felt like. All my hard work, gone in one puff of air.
So. Next time. Bake until more brown than I think is right! I did bake for the minimum time that Dorie says to do, but next time I’ll go for the maximum. And possibly beyond.
Then I filled the prettiest ones with whipped cream. But ran out of whipping cream and so froze the rejects. I know that they’re best the day that they’re made, but, eh. And maybe ice cream will puff them back up to pleasing plumpness.
Speaking of plumpness, my hips will never be the same after this cookbook, I tell you. (I may have eaten an éclair or four. That crackle topping though — not only tasty, but adds this fabulous textural element to each bite!)
Next Post: Something low-cal, I think. After those deliciously rich éclairs, I’m craving some veggies!