Sunday, August 31, 2008

Eclair Meets East

Have been missing in action for some time now - for catch up's, meet up's, updates in the blogosphere and the past Daring Baker's challenges. Our bad.

Even fur-cut or better known as a grooming session scheduled for our monstrous-looking precious pea; Rufus, wasn't running on the right time. Planned but things meant to go out of our plan. Consequently, Rufus had outgrew his pure roots; from a white miniature Schnauzer to a white furry Poodle. That's not too bad, we have ventured into a new breed though. Of pom-poms and poodles.

No, we aren't guilt-free yet. Explanations are necessarily needed to diminish our guiltiness - be it lame or logic. We have been tied up with uncountable college's brain-straining workload, final exams and multiple errands for the past months. Past month. Past months sounds better, it signifies us in a word - diligent!

Last but not least, an event to work with; the Arts & Culture @ The Podium, solely organized by the Multicultural Arts Malaysia. Arts & Culture @ The Podium opens during the weekends, every Saturday and Sunday, from 11am - 6pm at Menara Hap Seng, Kuala Lumpur. It is located in Jalan P.Ramlee, opposite Shangri-La Hotel, which is a 10 minutes walk from the nearest monorail station of Raja Chulan. There are various spread of talented artist with their work-of-art, ranging from paintings, sketches, handicrafts, custom-made jeweleries, patch works and independent T-shirt label designers. These vendors are listed as below:

Penny Yuen - Eco Products
Pei Chee - Handmade Cards
Sue - Soft Toys
Agnes - Handmade Accessories
Sarah - Handmade bags
Zou - Handmade scarf and broaches
Ahmad Fauzi, Azhar, Amir - Acrylics Painting
Gajah Gajah Gallery - Native Arts
Fatass Michelle - Cupcakes (Oh, how rude! Nah, just kidding)
Azria - Chocolate Roses
Shermaine Ng - Costume jeweleries
Angkatan Baju Malaya - Independent t-shirt label
Oh Boxes Enterprise - Gift boxes
Heavenly Beauty Enterprise - Wax products
Patches of Love - Patch works
Karen Tan - Handmade earrings
Jennifer - T-shirt printed design
The Kraft Store - craft designer's products
Hermes - Batik Art

Of arts, some may say. We will then labelled our cupcake bakesale as the art in edible form. Edible arts; the cupcakes! We are working it by being adventurous and generous. Generous, ahem.

We are having a bakesale at the podium and will be selling various exotic flavors and old time favourites of cupcakes. In the meantime, here's a few good schweets to be showcased, and yet, more flavors to come:

1. Moist Chocolate

2. Cookie Monster (Flavored Cookies and Cream)

3. Lavande' (Flavored Lavender with Chantilly Cream Filling)

4. Elmo (Flavored Raisin And Rum)

5. The Zombie (Chocolate Brownie
With Cookie Crumbs)

6. Ispahan (Flavored Rose Cupcake With Whole Lychee & Raspberry Cream

7. Green Tea (Flavored Green Tea With Chantilly Cream Filling

8. Red Velvet (Flavored Red Velvet Cake With Chocolate Filling And Cream Cheese Frosting

9. Chickadee (Flavored Moist Chocolate Cake with Banana Frosting)

10. Chocolato (Flavored Moist Chocolate Cupcake With Chocolate Cream Filling

Speaking of which, these cupcakes are priced at RM3.90 each and you can get it from The Podium @ Menara Hup Seng for only:

on every weekends!

Moving onto the next topic, we have been fiddling with puff's batter lately; with the aid of Pierre Herme's eclair recipe from his book collection; a cookbook written by Dorie Greenspan: Chocolate Desserts By Pierre Hermé . After finding out that Daring Bakers Challenge for the month of August was the eclairs, we crossed our fingers tightly as to walk our plan in order. We planned to post. And this was it, our Daring Bakers Challenge #3.

By proceeding to our third challenge of Daring Bakers, we are too happy for words when we knew that Pierre Herme's book can now put into good use. The very 1st challenge that we have participated were Cheesecake Pops, followed by the 2nd challenge; the Opera Cake. Daring Bakers challenge has always been fun and oh well, challenging. The 3rd challenge was experimental, and was hosted by Tony Tahhan and MeetaK. The challenge was made known that the eclairs must include at least one portion of the chocolate family, whereby we were given the option to choose whether to fill the eclairs with chocolate pastry cream or topped with a chocolate glaze with the recipe given, or both.

We have taken a rather exotic route where mix-and-match happens. We opted for something more "Asian" and came up with the Chocolate and Green Tea Eclairs. Alterations were made. The original recipe calls for a chocolate pastry cream instead of the one below; which is the green tea and white chocolate pastry cream.

The beautifully puffed up eclair is paired up with a smooth and fluffy portion of Green Tea pastry cream with a hint of white chocolate sweetness, and then glazed with dark chocolate glazing. The eclairs became iresistible and sinful when green tea were matched up with the whites (white chocolate). Like they say, that is to spice things up.

The eclairs consist of three vital parts; the puffs, the pastry cream and the glaze. Whipping up the eclairs was easy as D-O-G, baking them was tougher than we thought. The last time we tried our hands on the puffs; which was many years ago, we ended up with pretty puffed up cream puffs, but not this time. The first batch was a failed attempt. The do
ugh puffs puffed up (or shall we say, inflate?) prettily and it does looked thrice bigger during the baking session. But good things come to an end when we started to poke our nose and fiddle with the oven door. The puffs deflated, our hearts crushed onto the baking trays and we did shook our heads while checking out on our flat puffs. Flattened puffs were used as disguise for an elongated oval shaped pancake.

By googling back and forth, we were overjoyed and glad to know the problem incurred which made our puffs deflate and deform into something weirder than how the actual pancake would look like. That's what most of our gramps would say, success comes from multiple failures. That proves the point. As for the situation for deflated cream puffs, this is due to the fact that the babies are somewhat premature. Premature babies is a no-no for cream puffs. Thus, it is clearly unambiguous that underbaked is the case. Though the cream puffs may have exceeded the baking time, believe your poochie-instinct that the puffs aren't ready yet unless the puffs are baked until golden brown, firm and has freaky cracks on its surface. The recipe is followed below. We divided it into 5 parts, ranging from part A to part E; which dwells in between of Pierre Herme's Cream Puff Dough, Green Tea and White Chocolate Pastry Cream, Chocolate Glaze, Chocolate Sauce and Ways to Assemble The Perfect Eclairs.

Pierre Hermé’s Éclairs

Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé (makes 20-24 Éclairs)

A.) Pierre Hermé’s Cream Puff Dough

• ½ cup (125g) whole milk

• ½ cup (125g) water

• 1 stick (4 ounces; 115g) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces

• ¼ teaspoon sugar

• ¼ 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.
3) 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.
4) The dough should be still warm. It is now ready to be used for the éclairs as directed above. 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.
5) 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.
6) 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.

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

B.) Green Tea And White Chocolate Pastry Cream

• 2 cups (500g) whole milk

• 2 tablespoons green tea powder

• 4 large egg yolks

• 6 tbsp (75g) sugar

• 3 tablespoons cornstarch, sifted

• 7 oz (200g) white chocolate, melted

• 2½ tbsp (1¼ oz: 40g) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1) In a small saucepan, bring the milk to a boil. Mix in green tea powder into boiled milk and stir till combined. 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. 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.

C.) Chocolate Glaze
Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé (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.
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. 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.

D.) Chocolate Sauce

Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé
(makes 1½ cups or 525 g)

• 4½ oz (130 g) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

• 1 cup (250 g) water

• ½ 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.

2) 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.

E.) Assembling the éclairs:
• Chocolate glaze

• Green Tea And White Chocolate Pastry Cream

• Cream Puff Dough or Eclairs

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

Here's a sneak peek of what will prevail the up-coming post (shot below)...

And we will be counting days, just to get our darling Arisa's butt back to Malaysia - 125 days that is. Last but not least, Happy Merdeka peeps.

P/S: Season greetings Holy Molly. Amen. :-)