I experienced trepidation at the thought of making the eclairs. But I was determined to make them, after all, they are a quintessential French dessert. If I was going to learn french cooking and baking from Around My French Table, I couldn't skip the eclairs. So when the monthly schedule came out, I marked last Saturday on my calendar as eclair day. Saturday morning I went to the grocery store for my ingredients, and then did what I do with any project I'm nervous about - I procrastinated. There was a featured recipe for risotto at the grocery store, complete with a sampling of the wine they wanted you to use in the dish. I'd never made risotto before, but knew what it entailed. Nothing says quick Saturday lunch before baking like risotto, right? ;)
So after my risotto was finished, I had no more excuses and started the eclairs. This was more like 3 recipes in one. First I made the cream puff filling recipe so that it could chill in the fridge.
Six egg yolks later (6!) I was whisking away, under heat, and suddenly noticed a clump in my pot. "Oh no! I must have cooked part of the egg when I was tempering the eggs," was my thought. So I turned around to grab a spatula to pull it out, and when I turned back around, my entire pot had solidified. I took a taste, and it tasted like custard - success! I was really surprised that this was when it solidified though, because Dorie didn't say anything about it solidifying while whisking over heat, and she is normally so detailed in her directions.
As that was chilling, I approached the pate a choux. Since I joined FFwD late, I've never made the gougeres, the first recipe, so I'm behind some of the other bloggers in this experience. The dough came together without problems, and soon I was filling a ziploc with the dough, cutting off the tip, and piping out my eclairs.
Next came baking, and boy did my kitchen heat up when I stuck the wooden spoon in the door for the final baking.
My eclair shells came out just fine! I found that when I flipped them over, they had the natural seam that Dorie mentioned. I tried cutting them open as Dorie described, but it didn't work well for me. I ended up just peeling them open by hand, sort of like opening a hotdog button.
I ended up not glazing the top - I thought they were sweet enough. Also, the ganache glaze was the one that appealed to me, but I try to avoid chocolate because Mr. Hobby won't touch it if I use chocolate.
They were really good! I took most of them into work on Monday, and now my co-workers think I'm some sort of weekend pastry chef. Ha! If only they knew about FFwD where they could see what all the bloggers did this week for the eclairs.