Hayley the pâtissier…c’est possible?

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Who needs a local pâtisserie (which we don’t have), when I am around?! Last weekend I attempted for only the second time, to make éclairs. Armed with all the ingredients, a spare afternoon and a slightly unreliable oven, I set out to improve on my last effort which were slightly overdone and contained crème pâtissière which was a bit too thick. The first tray of éclairs into the oven were interesting shapes. It took a while to get used to using the piping bag again, but by the second tray, I had it down pat. Éclairs cooked, it was time to move onto the vanilla crème pâtissière and for wait for that to cool before I could squeeze it into the pastry. Waiting, waiting, waiting…and then it was ready 🙂

Once the crème pâtissière was in and the éclairs were nicely puffed up with the filling, I made chocolate ganache to top them off. The 70% dark chocolate was a nice bitter accompaniment to the sweet filling – and also a sticky mess!

Since I made these éclairs, and had spent most of the afternoon in and out of the kitchen, my thoughts on how good they were may be biased. But they were pretty good. The pastry was much lighter than my first attempt, the crème pâtissière was a good consistency and tasted great, and the chocolate helped balance out the sweetness. I actually went as far to claim to my sister that the pastry might have been better than Jean-Pascal’s…at which point she told me not to get too excited (I still think it was).

The only downfall was that I forgot to double the crème pâtissière recipe, so I ran out. I filled the good éclairs (batches 2 and 3) and left the others (batch 1) unfilled.

Since I am quite quick to critique other éclairs on this blog, I thought it only fair that I seek an independent review. I took three éclairs to work with me for three ‘testers’ to try. The feedback was good. Tester 1, Ben, claimed they were better than La Maison de L’Éclair in Sydney (thank you Ben), Toni said she could have eaten another one (thank you Toni), and Tegan provided me with a written review…so here is what she thought:

1. Looks proper. Good weight. Smells like chocolatey goodness!
2. First taste. Soft pastry with perfect choux. Even though it’s been refrigerated the chocolate is still melting onto fingers which is a good sign.
3. Two bites in. Deargodvanillabeancustardi’minheaven.
4. Three bites in: I am having trouble typing because my eyes are rolling back in my head from pure bliss.
5. Five bites in. It’s nearly over and I’m getting a little upset….
6. It’s finished. I’m coming to eat Ben’s.

Overall: Utterly delicious. The best part was that it wasn’t too sweet, the chocolate had a good level of bitterness which complimented to silky smooth custard perfectly. Even straight from the fridge it was very flavourful (I was too impatient to wait for it to warm up).

Well done Hayley! Consider me your future guinea pig for all treats!

Here is a photographic journey of my afternoon…

Step 1: Get all the bits ready
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Step 2: Stand back and marvel at all the odd sizes and vow to get better next time
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Step 3: Make crème pâtissière and hope it works
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Step 4: Get ganache on the go and wonder if this all took so long last time
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Step 5: Decide against waiting for ganache to set and bite into éclair. Consider career change…
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