Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Chocolate Hazelnut Eclairs {and homemade truffles!}


After receiving the Petite Sweets by Beatrice Ojakangas cookbook a week ago from my mom, I have been poring over the pages of mini custards, cakes and tarts, every one as precious and seemingly delicious as the last. The idea of miniature desserts appeals to me because they are the perfect portion for a sweet snack or final note to a meal. With the help of your votes last week, I settled on baking my first real pastries: eclairs with chocolate hazelnut filling. I know I always say this, but I was once again surprised by the simplicity of this recipe; each component has 4 ingredients or less! If you have the right tools (namely, a pastry bag), this recipe is a snap to make and you'll be satisfied knowing you conquered the slightly intimidating - yet totally worth it - delicious tiny eclairs.

Like I said, all of the components are made up of 4 ingredients or less. For the eclair dough, all you need is water, butter, flour and eggs. No sugar, no salt. I was surprised to see that the dough is made over the stove; this was a technique I've never tried before.

I was a little apprehensive with the over-the-stove method, but everything worked according to directions! I probably could have left my dough over the stove for a few seconds longer as mine was still a little sticky putting it into the piping bag.

Once you pipe finger-sized strips onto the baking sheet, the eclairs bake for 15-20 minutes. During this time, they puff up, gaining an airy cavity ready for filling on the inside, and a crisp golden shell on the outside.

Make sure to let the eclairs cool completely before filling! Then, using a pasty bag with a long tip for filling, squeeze the chocolate hazelnut cream into the eclairs until you feel the pressure of the cream along the sides of the pastry. Filling tip: take your time combining the Nutella and whipped cream. The two start out as very different textures, and you want them to combine smoothly without losing the lightness of the whipped cream - keep a light touch with your spatula and it will turn out perfect! I rushed my filling, and a glob of Nutella getting stuck in the piping tip made me explode my pastry bag... woops!

Brush (or spoon) on a chocolate glaze over the top of the eclair and serve chilled.

These eclairs are a perfect two bite treat. The slightly crispy shell contrasts with the light, airy filling, and the bittersweet chocolate glaze balances out the sweet hazelnut filling. Magnifique!

{Bonus tip} Throw leftover chocolate glaze into tupperware in the fridge and let harden into a ganache. When firm, roll into tablespoon size balls (your hands will get dirty!) and roll in your favorite topping, such as cocoa powder, cinnamon, or finely chopped nuts for sophisticated and rich homemade truffles.

Recipe: Chocolate Hazelnut Eclairs from Petite Sweets
Makes 36 (mine only yielded about 28)
1 cup water
1/2 cup butter
1 cup all purpose flour
4 large eggs
  1. Preheat the oven to 425F. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a saucepan, combine the water and butter. Place over high heat and bring to a boil, melting the butter.
  3. Add flour all at once and stir until mixture forms a ball, about 1 minute.
  4. Remove pan from heat and cool 5 minutes.
  5. Turn mixture into a food processor with the steel blade in place. With the motor going, add the eggs, one at a time, making a smooth mixture.
  6. Put dough into a pastry bag and pipe into strips about the size of your index finger on the baking sheet.
  7. Bake for about 15 minutes or until puffed and golden.
  8. Remove to a rack and cool.
Chocolate Hazelnut Filling
1 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup chocolate hazelnut spread such as Nutella
  1. In a large bowl, whip the cream until stiff and fold in the chocolate hazelnut spread. Chill for up to 2 days, if desired.
Chocolate Glaze
6 tablespoons whipping cream
6 tablespoons light corn syrup
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
  1. For the glaze, in a small heavy saucepan, combine the cream and corn syrup.
  2. Heat to boiling. 
  3. Reduce heat to low.
  4. Add chocolate; whisk until smooth. Remove from heat.
  5. Let cool until glaze thickens slightly but can still be poured, about 25 minutes.
To assemble: 
Fill a pastry bag with the Chocolate Hazelnut Filling. Punch a hole in one end of each eclair and pipe the filling into the hole until you feel the pressure of cream against the sides of the pastry. Brush each eclair with the Chocolate Glaze and let dry. They may be kept at room temperature up to 2 hours or refrigerated up to 8 hours before serving (Ed. Note: I refrigerated mine a while longer and they are still fine).

For Truffles:
Cool extra chocolate glaze in the fridge until firm. Roll tablespoon-size scoops into balls and roll in favorite topping; possible ideas include cocoa powder, cinnamon, or chopped nuts. Tap off excess. Chill until ready to serve.

1 comment:

  1. Truly beautiful :) Im tempted to just make those truffles, although making choux pastry has always been on my to-do list so 2 birds with one stone sounds like a pretty good plan to me! :)