Double Chocolate Eclairs

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This recipe is from Culinary Concoctions by Peabody. Peabody says she adapted it from several sources: Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Herme by Dorie Greenspan, Baking at Home With the Culinary Institute of America, and The French Pastry Chef. It has been on my list for quite some time and I am glad I finally got around to making it. It has a large number of steps but I was pleasantly surprised by how quickly it all came together, so don’t be scared away by the directions. (No, run, run! Be afraid, be very afraid!). ;)

The pastry cream and chocolate glaze recipes made enough for two batches of the choux pastry but I found myself out of eggs after the first batch. I thought this would be perfect to try out an egg-free version. However, though many sell vegan eclairs, there are not many recipes available at all. The one I found, from :-0 at Yahoo Answers, which came from Mame at Vegweb, used Ener-G egg replacer, of which I have none of in the house, so I went looking for egg replacer alternatives. After finding out that there are many egg replacers available but none that suit choux pastry, I finally decided on the one that I thought most likely to work, from The Cooking Inn.

The vegan eclairs turned out better than I expected. I used oil and mine exuded a bit of oil, I believe because there were no eggs to emulsify. Adding less oil might help. I waited nervously as they baked, and breathed a sigh of relief when I saw them puffing up. They are a tad more dense than the non-vegan version but good. My egg replacer worked just fine. As with the non-vegan eclairs, it is important to watch these when baking. They can burn easily, more easily than the non-vegan version. They take longer to puff up but they make it in the end. The pictures above and below the vegan pate a choux recipe are of the vegan eclairs.

From reading Kelly’s post over at Celiac Chicks, it is easy to make dairy-free eclairs. Her recipe is adapted from The Gluten-Free Gourmet by Bette Hagman. You could use shortening instead of oil as well. The pastry cream recipe below can easily be adapted, just use a non-dairy milk, oil or shortening instead of butter, and leave out the egg. Since it is a pudding and uses cornflour (corn starch) or arrowroot starch, it will still thicken. For the diplomat cream you could use whipped coconut cream. The coconut cream recipe I included is from Charlene in Bakespace’s Global Cookbook. For the chocolate glaze, non-dairy milk and oil or shortening again.  Thanks Peabody, Kelly, and Charlene for sharing these great recipes.

If you prefer a plain eclair and/or plain pastry cream, just omit the cocoa from the pate a choux and the chocolate from the pastry cream. You could add vanilla to the pastry cream at the end instead or in addition. You don’t need to make the pastry cream into diplomat cream. The chocolate sauce is probably not entirely necessary in the chocolate glaze and it would be rather thin to stand up as a glaze on its own. Of course you could always fill these with your favourite creamy pudding or even plain whipped cream or coconut cream. They are pillows of puffy, creamy heaven.

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Double Chocolate Eclairs

Pate a Choux

207 ml (7 ounces) water

1/2 teaspoon salt

78g (5 1/2 tablespoons) butter or shortening or 125 ml (1/2 cup) oil

140g (1 1/4 cups) gluten-free flour blend (xanthan gum is not necessary)

5 extra large eggs

7g (1 tablespoon) cocoa powder (I used 15g (2 tablespoons))

Boil water, salt, cocoa, and butter in a saucepan. Add flour and stir, stirring constantly until the mixture gets hot and uniform in consistency. Transfer mixture to an electric mixer with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed for 2-3 minutes until mixture is cool.

Mix on low and add the eggs, one at a time. After the addition of each egg, wait until the mixture absorbs it and becomes completely smooth again. Using a pastry bag, dispense the choux paste onto a parchment-lined or nonstick baking tray. Alternatively, you may use two spoons to form eclair shapes or simply drop spoonfuls to form puffs.

Bake at 220C (425F) until they have puffed and gotten some colour, then reduce the heat to 170C (350F) until they dry out inside. Do not underbake or they will fall flat. Cut one open to check the inside for wetness, before removing from the oven, if you are not sure if they are done. It takes longer than you would think. Mine took 15 minutes to puff up and 20 minutes to dry out. Watch them carefully. I got 12 eclairs. Peabody says the recipe makes 25 to 30 small puffs or 8 to 10 large eclairs.

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Vegan Pate a Choux

110g (1 cup) gluten-free flour blend (xanthan gum is not necessary but won’t hurt if your blend has it)

5g (2 teaspoons) caster sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar or baking powder

7g (1 tablespoon) cocoa powder (I used 15g (2 tablespoons))

30g (2 tablespoons) shortening or 30 ml (2 tablespoons) of oil

250 ml (1 cup) non-dairy milk (I used water)

equivalent of 4 eggs, 2 tablespoons Ener-G egg replacer whipped until stiff with 80 ml (1/3 cup) water

(I used:

15 ml (1 tablespoon) oil

15 ml (1 tablespoon) vinegar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon cornflour (corn starch) or arrowroot starch

enough carbonated water (plain soda water) to equal 60 ml (1/4 cup)

Combine, oil, vinegar, baking powder, cornflour (corn starch) or arrowroot starch and water in a medium bowl to allow mixture room to expand. Whisk together. )

Prepare Ener-G egg replacer, if using. Stir together flour, vegan sugar, salt, cream of tartar, and cocoa. In a saucepan, bring the non-dairy milk or water and shortening or oil to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat for a moment and prepare alternative egg replacer, if using. Add the flour mixture all at once, return to heat, and reduce the heat to low. Stir constantly until the dough forms a ball that pulls away from the sides and the spoon and is smooth. Working quickly, remove from heat and add the egg replacer in thirds, beating well after each addition until the dough is glossy, smooth, and pulls away from the sides.

Using a pastry bag, dispense the choux paste onto a parchment-lined or nonstick baking tray. Alternatively, you may use two spoons to form eclair shapes or simply drop spoonfuls to form puffs. Mame says she made 20 small puffs. I got 10 eclairs from my batch.

Bake at 205C (400F) for 10 minutes, then lower the heat to 170C (350F) for another 10 minutes. Turn oven off and allow to cool, with door slightly ajar, for another 20 minutes. Allow to cool completely on racks before serving or filling.

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Chocolate Pastry Cream

475 ml (2 cups) whole milk or non-dairy milk

2 large egg yolks (may omit)

85g (6 tablespoons) caster sugar

25g (3 tablespoons) cornflour (corn starch) or arrowroot starch

200g (7 ounces) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

35g (2 1/2 tablespoons) butter or shortening or 40 ml (2 1/2 tablespoons) oil

Fill a large bowl with ice and water. Set aside a smaller bowl that can hold the finished pastry cream and be placed in the ice bath. In a small saucepan, bring the milk to a boil. Meanwhile, if you are using eggs, whisk the yolks, sugar, and cornflour (corn starch) or arrowroot starch together in a medium saucepan. Continue whisking as you slowly add a quarter of the hot milk into the yolks. Still whisking, pour the rest of the liquid in a steady stream into the tempered yolks. If you are not using eggs, then whisk the sugar and cornflour (corn starch) or arrowroot starch together in a medium saucepan. Slowly add the hot milk, continuing to whisk to prevent lumps, until all the milk is added.

Strain the mixture into the saucepan, place over medium heat, and whisking vigourously and without stop, bring the mixture to a boil. Keep the mixture at the boil, mixing energetically, for 1-2 minutes. Still over heat, stir in the chocolate, then remove from heat and scrape the pastry cream into the small bowl. (I skipped the straining step, as my pastry cream was not lumpy.)

Set the bowl into the ice-water bath and, stirring frequently so that the mixture remains smooth, cool the pastry cream to 60C (140F), as measured on an instant-read thermometer. Remove the pastry cream from the ice-water bath and stir in the butter, shortening, or oil in three or four additions. Return the pastry cream to the ice-water bath and keep it there, stirring off and on until it is completely cool.

Diplomat Cream

7g (2 1/4 teaspoons) powdered unflavoured gelatine or agar-agar

60 ml (1/4 cup) water

1/2 of the pastry cream

250 ml (1 cup) cream or 1 coconut cream recipe

Sprinkle the gelatine, if using, over the water in a small bowl and stir to break up any clumps. Let the gelatine soften in the water for 2 minutes. Heat the softened gelatine over simmering water or in a microwave for about 20 seconds on low power until the granules melt and the mixture is clear. For agar-agar, bring the water to a boil, sprinkle the agar-agar over the top and stir until dissolved. Stir the gelatine or agar-agar into the pastry cream by hand until blended.

Whip the cream until it holds a medium peak or prepare the coconut cream. By hand, fold the whipped cream or coconut cream into the pastry cream in 2 or 3 additions, folding just until evenly blended.

Coconut Cream

1 400 ml (14 oz) tin coconut milk, chilled overnight

30g (2 tablespoons) caster sugar (original used 15g (2 tablespoons) icing sugar)

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Chill a mixing bowl and beaters. Open the chilled coconut milk and spoon the cream from the top, avoiding the thin liquid underneath. If you don’t, then your cream will not set properly. Beat the coconut cream in the chilled bowl until stiff peaks form. Beat in the icing sugar and vanilla extract.

Chocolate Sauce

125g (4 1/2 ounces) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

250 ml (1 cup) water

120 ml (1/2 cup) cream, coconut milk, or other non-dairy milk

75g (1/3 cup) caster sugar

Place all the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, until the mixture thickens slightly and coats the back of the spoon. Be patient–this can take 10 to 15 minutes and shouldn’t be rushed. This is the part of the process that seemed to take the longest for me.

Chocolate Glaze

120 ml (1/2 cup) cream, coconut milk, or other non-dairy milk

100g (3 1/2 ounces) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

20g (4 teaspoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature, or shortening, or 20 ml (4 teaspoons) oil

105 ml (7 tablespoons) chocolate sauce

In a small saucepan, bring the cream or milk to a boil over medium heat. Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the chocolate, bit by bit, stirring the mixture gently. Measure the temperature of the mixture with an instant-read thermometer: it should be 60C (140F). If it is too cool, warm it and remove from heat as soon as it reaches the proper temperature. If the mixture is too hot, let it cool to 60C (140F).

Stirring gently, blend in the butter, piece by piece, or the shortening or oil. Take the temperature of the glaze. It should be between 35C (95F) and 60C (140F) for prime pourability. If the glaze is too cold, it can be warmed in a hot water bath or microwave at low setting.

To Assemble:

Slice the eclairs horizontally in half. Set the bottoms aside and put the tops on a rack over a sheet of parchment. Spread the glaze over the tops. Allow the tops to set.

Pipe or spoon the chocolate diplomat cream into the eclair bottoms. You can do this as you wait for the tops to set. Place the tops over the filled bottoms, jiggling the tops to settle them, and serve the eclairs as soon as possible. Enjoy! If they don’t all get eaten in one sitting, as mine didn’t, they do fine stored overnight, the filling just shrinks a bit.

Casein-Free Option:

The vegan pate a choux is casein-free. To make the first pate a choux recipe casein-free, substitute trans-fat free shortening or oil for the butter. For the chocolate pastry cream, use your favourite dairy-free milk (such as hemp milk, rice milk, almond milk, coconut milk, or soy milk) or goat’s milk instead of the whole milk and substitute trans-fat free shortening, oil, or ghee for the butter. You could leave the butter out of the pastry cream as well. It would not be quite as rich, but plenty rich enough. If you wish to make the pastry cream into diplomat cream, use coconut cream instead of the whipped cream. For the chocolate sauce, use your favourite dairy-free milk or goat’s milk, or you could leave out the milk and it will still be tasty. For the chocolate glaze, substitute trans-fat free shortening, oil, or ghee for the butter and dairy-free milk or goat’s milk for the cream.

5 Comments »

    5 Comments to “Double Chocolate Eclairs”

  1. on 06 Jan 2008 at 9:02 am Sheltie Girl

    Great job on tackling Peabody’s recipe. I love the way you turned the recipe into a vegan one. Thank you for sharing all your efforts with us.

    Sheltie Girl @ Gluten A Go Go

  2. on 07 Jan 2008 at 1:48 pm Willa

    I’m glad you enjoyed it. It was fun! I made the vegan variation because there are many who eat gluten-free who are egg and casein-free as well. Though I am not myself and do not bake vegan most of the time, I like being able to offer recipes that more people can eat. Thank you for the comment.

  3. on 17 Aug 2008 at 1:03 pm Cheryl

    How very impressive! You were so thorough, and have so many great ideas. I can’t wait to check out more of your recipes!

  4. on 17 Aug 2008 at 11:06 pm Willa

    Hello Cheryl, I’m glad you liked it :) . Most of the fun in cooking/baking for me is trying new recipes. Have fun! Thank you for the comment.

  5. on 11 Feb 2013 at 5:17 pm patricia grodberg

    Hi. I’ve been searching the internet for a vegan choux pastry recipe. We are not gluten-free though we are egg and casein free (which initiated our turn to veganism). Anyway, I would love to try out your recipe for Valentine’s Day this week. Is there a specific gluten-free flour blend? I know next to nothing when it comes to gluten-free baking. Thanks.

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