Chocolate Éclairs by Pierre Hermé

Pierre Herme Chocolate Eclairs

Making pâte à choux has always been intimidating but now that I’ve tried it once, I can’t wait to use it again. Gazing at the colorful options behind glass display cases in local pastry shops, I’m thinking, “I can’t make any of this.” Now I can proudly cross out éclairs, cream puffs, profiteroles, and Paris-Brest out of The Long List of Things I Can’t Must Make.

The pastry dough is cooked twice, first on the stovetop to create a paste and then finished in the oven after piping the desired shape. Choux is French for “cabbage,” referring to the irregular shape that a round piece of pâte à choux takes. While baking, steam is trapped inside the dough to create a crisp hollow shell. It can serve as the perfect wrapper for fillings such as ice cream for profiteroles and in the case of éclairs, decadent chocolate pastry cream.

Daring Bakers Pierre Herme Chocolate Eclairs
The Daring Bakers – Pierre Herme’s Chocolate Éclairs
hosted by Tony Tahhan and MeetaK

This recipe from Pierre Hermé, one of the most famous pastry chefs in the world, seems overwhelming at first but if a complete pastry newbie like me can do it, then so can you. The bane of home cooks everywhere, a long list of sub-recipes, is out in full force but such is the nature of pastry recipes. The different elements can also serve as an advantage — everything can be prepared ahead of time and the éclairs can be assembled just before serving. Even if your pastry bag is nothing more than a Ziploc with a cut-off corner, you will be dubbed Culinary God by the time you finish star-piping your first éclair.

The baked and unbaked pâte à choux can be stored in the freezer and used as needed. The unbaked pâte à choux just needs to be thoroughly defrosted before baking and it will work as well as freshly made.

recipe adapted from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé

Pierre Hermé’s Chocolate Éclairs

makes 20-24 Éclairs

Cream Puff Dough / Pâte à Choux (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.

Pierre Herme Pate a Choux Eclairs Piped
Piped pâte à choux.

  1. 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.

Pierre Herme Pate a Choux Hollow
Baked pâte à choux sliced horizontally. It actually came out hollow!

Notes:

  • The éclairs can be kept in a cool, dry place for several hours before filling.

Assembling the Éclairs:

Mise en Place:

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:

  • 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.
  • The éclairs should be served as soon as they have been filled.

Pierre Hermé’s Cream Puff Dough
Pâte à Choux

makes 20-24 Éclairs

1/2 cup (125g) whole milk
1/2 cup (125g) water
1 stick (4 ounces; 115g) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/4 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.

Pierre Herme Pate a Choux Cream Puff
Pâte à choux before adding the eggs.

  1. 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.
  2. The dough should be still warm. It is now ready to be used for the éclairs as directed above.

Notes:

  • Once the dough is made you need to shape it immediately.
  • 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

2 cups (500g) whole milk
4 large egg yolks
6 tbsp (75g) sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch, sifted
7 oz (200g) bittersweet chocolate, preferably Valrhona Guanaja, melted
2 1/2 tbsp (1 1/4 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:

  • The pastry cream can be made 2-3 days in advance and stored in the refrigerator.
  • In order to avoid a skin forming on the pastry cream, cover with plastic wrap pressed onto the cream.
  • Tempering the eggs raises the temperature of the eggs slowly so that they do not scramble.

Chocolate Glaze

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.

Pierre Herme Chocolate Glaze Butter
Adding the pieces of butter to the chocolate glaze.

Pierre Herme Chocolate Glaze Sauce
Adding the chocolate sauce to the glaze to finish.

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

makes 1 1/2 cups or 525 g

4 1/2 oz (130 g) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup (250 g) water
1/2 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.

Pierre Herme Chocolate Sauce Thin
Not ready yet.

  1. 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.

Pierre Herme Chocolate Sauce Thick Nape
Nape – coating the back of a spoon. Now it’s ready.

Notes:

  • 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.
  • This sauce is also great for cakes, ice-cream and tarts.
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77 Responses to “Chocolate Éclairs by Pierre Hermé”

  1. maybelles mom (feeding maybelle) says:

    great process pictures and finihsed product. I expected nothing less from you.

    last blog post: Fennel Handpies

  2. Dragon says:

    Oh my goodness. You eclairs turned out perfect! This was my first daring baker’s challenge. My kitchen was mess but they were worth it, weren’t they? Bravo!

    last blog post: Chocolate Éclairs

  3. MyKitchenInHalfCups says:

    Ho, ho Jude – from I can’t to I can too! It’s sort of like magic! But wonderful fun and eating!!
    Beautiful eclairs!

  4. Caitlin says:

    It’s nice to put more on the list of things you must make, isn’t it? I love the pic of the chocolate syrup swirled into the chocolate glaze – so pretty. Beautiful looking eclairs as well!

    last blog post: August DB Challenge: Eclairs

  5. Mike says:

    These look delicious and are beautifully put together! I also appreciate the notes about the dough freezing well–I never would have thought, but that definitely makes it more convenient to work with.

  6. Pixxienix says:

    Beautiful! When I first saw your piped batter, I actually exclaimed “whirligiggs!” Yummy ones at that.

    last blog post: French it up! With The Daring Bakers August 2008 Challenge: Pierre Herme’s Eclairs

  7. Natalie says:

    Your pictures are excellent!
    Love the look of your éclairs too, your glaze is so shiny! Yummm!

    last blog post: Daring Bakers : Chocolate Éclairs

  8. Beth says:

    Great Job!

  9. Anne says:

    Really really great job! Your eclairs look wonderful, and I love the photos.

    last blog post: Is an éclair supposed to be like this?

  10. rainbowbrown says:

    Dang, you sure have a knack for making everything you create look professional, even when it’s your first time. Glad you got to make something you thought you couldn’t. They really do look delicious.

    last blog post: Daring Bakers Éclairs

  11. Marija says:

    I love your presentation! And I love how you piped the dough for baking! Everything you make is so beautiful!

    last blog post: Daring Bakers, August 2008 – Pierre Hermé’s Chocolate Éclairs

  12. kat says:

    yeah you did it! isn’t it a wonderful feeling to have mastered pate a choux?! I froze my unbaked shapes & actually cooked them while still frozen & they still turned out perfect.

    last blog post: Daring Bakers – Eclairs

  13. Michelle Mcwhisky says:

    Your shots are superbly clear and gorgeous. Pretty luscious looking eclairs you have. Love the first shot – because it simply spells temptation! :)

    last blog post: Eclair Meets East

  14. Lisa says:

    Your pictures make me want to go eat another one – even though I KNOW I don’t want one! Welcome to the group :)

  15. Natashya says:

    How cute are those eclairs! I love your mini guys, I will take two. Great work and great photo of them all lined up with their hats on.

    last blog post: The Daring Bakers Bake the Éclairs and Run.

  16. Mary says:

    Beautiful…and phenomenal photos! Cheers to your first challenge!

    last blog post: Daring Bakers August Éclairs

  17. claire says:

    Such cute little puffs! I love the spoon picture.

    last blog post: Chocolate…erm…Raspberry E’Clair(e)

  18. Eileen says:

    Welcome to Daring Bakers! Lovely éclairs.

  19. Candace says:

    Beautiful job! Nice presentation too!

    last blog post: Choux Whore

  20. Audaz Artifex says:

    What a photo excellent job and great work on the details on how to make them. Ana welcome to DBs I’m a first timer also. Love BDs. Yours Audax

  21. cheryl says:

    wow, those came out amazingly! yahoo on crossing off items on your list.

    last blog post: Cream (un) puffs: a challenged daring baker

  22. Ranee @ Arabian Knits says:

    I love the photography, and I, too, will remember the hint about freezing the dough. That would make it much more convenient. Thank you for your great post.

    last blog post: Daring Bakers Challenge: Eclairs

  23. Mary says:

    I would’ve never known that this was your first attempt at pate a choux. Your eclairs turned out great!

    last blog post: The Fog Is Lifting

  24. Arundathi says:

    Your eclairs look fabulous!! Great going!

    last blog post: Savory Muffins

  25. sweetbird says:

    As always, you’re amazing…

    last blog post: Pierre Hermé’s Éclairs

  26. aisha says:

    Thanks for stopping by! Your eclairs are gorgeous. The glaze is so lustrous, and i loved the way you piped the eclairs. Great job!

    last blog post: Daring Bakers August Challenge: Chocolate Eclairs

  27. arundati says:

    they look awesome!!

    last blog post: Chocolate Making Classes

  28. Rosa says:

    Very well done! Your Cream Puffs look very pretty and delicious! Great piping job!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

    last blog post: CHOCOLATE ÉCLAIRS – THE DARING BAKERS

  29. Foodie Froggy says:

    Ohlala ! (Excuse me, could not help, I am french after all !), they are so so so cute !!

    last blog post: Eclairs au Chocolat Daring Bakers, Daring Bakers Chocolate Eclairs

  30. Meeta says:

    simply adorable! they look great and i think i will make them mini the next time too! thanks for giving these a go!

  31. BC says:

    My pastry bag IS a ziploc bag… however, I”ve yet to turn into a culinary god! I just never felt my pastry bag was big enough and was not the easiest to clean.

    last blog post: Mon Petit Choux Pastry

  32. aran says:

    i love the dripping chocolate glaze shot. deliciousness!

    last blog post: Daring Bakers and a Classic

  33. Baking Soda says:

    Great step-by-step pics, love the shape and glossy results, very yum!

  34. grace says:

    perfection. frankly, i’d tilt that bowl of ganache and pour it down my throat. :)

    last blog post: blowing hot and cold

  35. Zita says:

    OOooh… those every steps drooling pics… ;) I love your marching eclairs :)

    last blog post: Chocolate Glazed Mini Éclairs with Peanut Butter Cream

  36. Barbara says:

    The glaze in the picture looks so tasty I just want to lick it.

    last blog post: Daring Baker Chocolate Eclairs

  37. april says:

    Beautiful job! I am loving all the chocolate!

    last blog post: Happy Blogiversary!!

  38. Tartelette says:

    All that wonderful shiny glaze….makes me wish I still had some to make hot chocolate with this morning! They turned out wonderful!

  39. Erik McCarty says:

    Your eclairs look wonderful, I like the star tip piped filling, fantastic.

    last blog post: August Daring Bakers – Éclairs!!!

  40. Lynn says:

    WOW!! I love your eclairs. they look so good!!! I do not mind to have some of it now… hehe.. Welcome to DB :)

  41. Alexa says:

    Your Eclairs look heavenly. I love the pictures you posted on the different stages of the chocolate sauce.

    last blog post: Izmir Kofte– A Meatball Dish With a Hint of Cinnamon

  42. bonnie baker says:

    wow!
    so wonderful.

    last blog post: daring baker’s august challenge

  43. clumbsycookie says:

    You did so good! Your éclairs lokk amazing and you should be so proud! Isn’t it nice to know that now you can make them as the one in pastry shops?! lovely pictures!

    last blog post: For the Daring Bakers it doens’t matter if you’re Black or White!

  44. jasmine says:

    Love that sheen on the chocolate and the step-by-step photos are very helpful.

    yum :)

    j

    last blog post: Daring Bakers: Chocolate Eclairs

  45. Brianna says:

    Beautiful Eclairs! I love your photos as well. :)

  46. Ossi says:

    Beautifuly explained and great pictures. Thanks.

  47. Kevin says:

    Your eclairs look great!

    last blog post: Chocolate Eclairs

  48. Leonor says:

    Your eclairs look amazing!! what a shinny glaze… just perfect!

    last blog post: Daring Bakers éclairs

  49. Joanna says:

    I simply love that picture of the piped choux dough; they look like little beehives! Your eclairs look so professionally done; way to go on your first DB challenge :)

    last blog post: Malaysia Day Celebration: Satay Garden Restaurant

  50. Tanya says:

    Your eclairs are beautiful, as are all of the photos! They look delicious! Wonderful job.

    last blog post: Daring Bakers – WIN

  51. Michele says:

    Your eclairs are super-cute. I remember learning in school that if you leave the salt out of pate a choux, you can pipe it straight into water to make what they call gnocchi parisienne: http://www.jacquespepin.net/recipes/june2002.html

    This fascinated me for some reason, but I’ve never gotten around to trying it. Maybe I’m just hoping you will!

    last blog post: 87/100

  52. Hannah says:

    Your little army of eclairs looks delicious- And quite adorable all lined up like that, too!

    last blog post: If the Choux Fits…

  53. PIXIE O says:

    lined up that way, your eclairs seem destined for the mouth!

  54. Diane says:

    Your glaze looks decadent. Mine was a bit weak from the sauce. Don’t know why because I cooked it until it was thick.

    last blog post: Decadent Chocolate Eclairs…

  55. Y says:

    Beautiful looking photos, especially the first one.

    last blog post: Daring Bakers Challenge: All because we love.. Chocolate Eclairs

  56. Elizabeth says:

    look at that chocolate! good job jude!

    last blog post: Daring Baker’s Challenge: Chocolate Éclairs

  57. Elizabeth - Cake or Death? says:

    Oh my, your pictures are so gorgeous! I especially love the chocolate glaze pics–I want to dive in that bowl of chocolate, mouth-first. :) Gorgeous job.

    last blog post: The Daring Bakers Do Éclairs

  58. Vera says:

    I love step-by-step photos as well as the finished éclairs themselves!

    last blog post: Mocha Éclairs with Espresso Crème Anglaise

  59. Thanks for the kind words, guys. This -first- challenge was not as crazy as the ones that I just missed but I’m doing the next one no matter what. Hope it’s not a wedding cake or something.

  60. Madam Chow says:

    Beautiful results! I’m so impressed!

    last blog post: Daring Bakers and TWD

  61. Susan/Wild Yeast says:

    Glossiest glaze I’ve ever seen, and the presentation is just beautiful!

    last blog post: Lemon Barley Loaf

  62. Miri says:

    I think these are the most beautiful eclairs I’ve seen on this challenge! Just perfect!

    last blog post: Red, fruity and Spanish – Sangria

  63. celiaK says:

    Hello tokayong blogname. ;)
    Lovely lovely pictures of your fabulous eclairs!
    I especially admire the shiny glaze you used.

    last blog post: Chocolate Eclairs

  64. Sweet Freak says:

    Congratulations – these look like a huge success to me!

    last blog post: Jammies and chippers

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  70. Tanya says:

    Thanks for sharing this!! Between the photos and everything else so wonderfully described I just finished making these…and am currently ignoring the stack of dishes in my sink, LOL.

    They are amazing and the most scary thing I have ever attempted to make. I tempered eggs for the first time!!
    Can’t wait to make them again!!

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