Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Eclaires, choux with cream and chocolate ganaché

We lost all of our chickens.  Every last one.  A genet discovered that they are easy prey and just devoured them systematically.  One a night.  It was quite sad for us, but part of the circle of life I guess.  

I became so used to having lots and lots of eggs available at any given moment and it has been a bit of a rude awakening to suddenly realize I have the flour, sugar, vanilla and mixer ready but no eggs.  No more running to the chicken coop for some fresh eggs but off to the little shop at the garage close by instead.  For now we will not replace them.  We'll wait a while in the hope that the genet moves on.

We had a busy weekend with lots of people coming to visit and friends for lunch and dinner.  That of course translates into more baking and lots of cooking.

My daughter had a little friend over on Saturday as well and I prepared a huge batch of cookie cup batter for them to bake in her own silicone baking trays.  Special girls cakes also calls for special pink icing and lots and lots of pink sprinkles.  They had a blast icing and licking and sprinkling and eating.  They ended up with some pink icing in their hair of course and lots on the cheeks too but with big smiles and happy laughs as well.

When friends came round for tea on Sunday I needed a quick, delicious treat.  Eclairs is perfectly easy and quick and always delicious and always appreciated around here.  They are not difficult, contrary to popular belief and are really worth a try.

Choux pastry (makes about 20)
55g butter
150ml water
70g plain cake flour, sifted
pinch of salt
2 eggs, beaten

Preheat the oven to 200°C.
Cut the butter into cubes and put in a saucepan with the water, then bring slowly to the boil.  The butter must be completely melted by the time the water boils.
As soon as the mixture is boiling, tip in all the flour and salt and remove from the heat.
Beat the mixture hard with a wooden spoon, working as fast as you can.  It will become thick and smooth and will come away from the sides of the pan.  Leave to cool.
When the mixture is cool, beat in the eggs gradually, until the mixture becomes shiny and smooth and reaches a dropping consistency.
Use a teaspoon and drop spoonfuls of the mixture about 5cm apart on a baking sheet, lined with baking paper.  Before placing the baking sheet in the oven, quickly open the door and poor a few tablespoons of cold water into the bottom of the oven.  Close the door and after a few seconds, place the sheet in oven and bake for 30 minutes until brown and crisp.
Remove from the oven and let dry completely.

250ml whipping cream
icing sugar to taste (10-15ml)

Whip the cream until just stiff and sweeten with the icing sugar.  Cut the buns in half (don't cut all the way through) and place spoonfuls of the cream inside.


100g 70% chocolate
100ml cream

Smash the chocolate into small pieces.  Heat the cream slowly over a low heat until just starting to boil.  Pour over the chocolate pieces and let sit for a few minutes before stirring until cool, but still pourable.  Use a teaspoon to anoint the buns.

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