Invent

Spumoni Eclairs | French Pastry + Italian Ice Cream


 

This pate a choux recipe is adapted from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Herme.  The eclair, an oblong shape pastry, is filled with ice cream rather than custard or whipped cream and glazed with chocolate covered rice crunch rather than icing or caramel.

Choux pastry (pâte à choux) is a thick batter made from flour, milk, butter, and eggs; when baked, it rises and the finished product has a crispy shell and a hollow center. “Choux pastry is said to have been invented in 1540 by Popelini (Panterelli), Catherine de’ Medici’s chef, but the pastry cook’s art only truly began to develop in the 17th century and greatest innovator at the beginning of the 19th century was indubitably Careme” [Larousse Gastronomique, Jenifer Harvey Lang, editor [Crown:New York] 1988 (p. 777-8)].

Antonin Careme (1784-1833), a famous pastry chef for French royalty might have created something akin to éclairs during the nineteenth century in France where it was called “pain à la duchesse” [Le livre de pâtisserie,  Jules Gouffé, 1873 (p. 288)] or “petite duchesse” until 1850.  The oldest recipe we have for éclairs in an American cookbook was published in 1884:

Boston Cooking School Cook Book, Mrs. D.A. Lincoln [1884] (p. 389)  ↓

1 cup hot water
1/2 teaspoonful salt
1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 cup pastry flour
5 eggs, yolks and whites beaten separately

Boil the water, salt, and butter.  When boiling, add the dry flour, stir well for five minutes, and when cool add the eggs.  This is such a stiff mixture, many find it easier to mix with the hand, and some prefer to add the eggs whole, one at a time.  When well mixed, drip, in tablespoonfuls, on a buttered baking-pan, some distance apart.  Bake twenty to thirty minutes, or till brown and well pugged.  Split when cool, and fill with cream.

Eclairs–bake the Cream Cake mixture in pieces four inches long and one and a half wide.  When cool, split and fill with cream.  Ice with chocolate or vanilla frosting.

1 pint milk, boiled
2 tablespoonfuls cornstarch
3 eggs, well beaten
3/4 cup sugar
1 saltspoonful salt, or
1 teaspoonful butter

Wet the cornstarch in cold milk, and cook in the boiling milk ten minutes.  Beat the eggs; add the sugar and the thickened milk.  Cook in the double boiler five minutes.  Add the salt or butter, and when cool, flavor with lemon, vanilla, or almond.

 

SPUMONI ECLAIRS

To make the choux pastry: in a saucepan bring milk, water, butter, sugar and salt to a boil.  Sift both flours into a bowl and mix to combine.  Once milk mixture is at a rolling boil add all the flour at once and mix vigorously.

The dough will come together very quickly; you know it is ready when a slight crust forms at the bottom of the pan.

Add eggs one at a time – dough will separate but will come together once more.

The batter should be smooth and thick enough to hold its shape when piped, have a light sheen and when lifted fall back into the bowl in a ribbon .

Pipe warm dough into 4-inch long logs, smooth-out pointy tips with a metal spoon dipped in hot water and lightly brush tops with egg-wash.

Bake until éclairs are puffed, golden and firm.  They are baked at lower temperatures to minimize puffiness and create that slim elongated ‘French Bakery’ look.  The pastry will turn out rather dry, on the soft side yet stand firm with shells that hold well under moisture; making them ideal for ice-cream fillings.

To make chocolate ganache: bring milk and corn syrup to a boil; remove from heat.  Immediately add chocolate and butter and stir with a wire whisk to a smooth mixture.  Cool slightly then add in rice crunch.

To assemble pastry: slice éclairs horizontally.  Dip the top halves into the ganache and set aside to set.  Spoon enough ice-cream into the bottom halves to mound above the pastry then place the tops and wriggle gently to settle; serve immediately.

 

SPUMONI ECLAIRS

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Pâte à Choux:
½ cup (125 ml) whole milk
½ cup (125 ml) water
1 stick (4 oz / 113 g) unsalted butter, cubed
1 tablespoon granulated white sugar
¼ teaspoon fine salt
½ cup unbleached bread flour, sifted
½ cup pastry flour, sifted; (or 1/3 cup all-purpose + 2Tb-plus-2tsp cake flour)
5 large eggs, at room temperature

Optional egg-wash:
1 egg + 1/8 tsp salt, lightly whisked

Spumoni ice-cream, store-bought

Chocolate Ganache:
4 oz (125 g) bittersweet or extra-dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed
1/4 cup (2 fl oz / 62 ml) whole milk
1 teaspoon light corn syrup
Rice crunch, optional

Make choux pastry: in a heavy bottomed medium saucepan bring the milk, water, butter, sugar and salt to a boil.  Sift both flours into a bowl and mix to combine (or, if not available, use 1 cup plain all-purpose flour instead).

Once the milk mixture is at a rolling boil add all the flour at once.  Reduce heat to medium and start to stir the mixture vigorously with a wooden spoon.  The dough will come together very quickly; you know it is ready when a slight crust forms at the bottom of the pan.  Stir-cook for another 2-to-3 minutes until batter feels dry, very soft and smooth.

Transfer dough into a bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Add eggs one at a time; beating well after each addition.  You will notice that after you add the first egg the dough will separate; do not worry.  As you continue adding remaining eggs the dough will start to come together again.  Batter should be smooth and thick enough to hold its shape when piped, have a light sheen and when lifted fall back into the bowl in a ribbon – after adding 4 ½ eggs examine batter and add remaining only if needed.

Preheat oven to 375F (190C) and divide into thirds by positioning the racks in the upper and lower half of the oven.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

The dough should be still warm when you start piping.  Fill a large pastry bag fitted with a 2/3 (2cm) plain tip nozzle with dough (* see notes below).  Pipe onto the baking sheets into 4 inches (about 11 cm) long chubby fingers leaving about 2 inches (5 cm) space in between each dough strip to allow room to expand; pipe 20-to-24 éclairs.  Smooth-out pointy tips with a metal spoon dipped in hot water and lightly brush tops with egg-wash if desired.

Slide both baking sheets into oven and bake for 7 minutes.  After 7 minutes, slip the handle of a wooden spoon into the oven door to keep it ajar.  When the éclairs have been in the oven for a total of 12 minutes, rotate the baking sheets top to bottom and front to back.  Continue baking for another 8 minutes or until éclairs are puffed, golden and firm.  Total baking time should be approximately 20-25 minutes.

Make chocolate ganache: In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, bring milk and corn syrup to a boil; remove from heat.  Immediately add chocolate and butter and stir with a wire whisk to a smooth mixture.  Cool slightly then add in rice crunch.

Assemble pastry: slice éclairs horizontally using a serrated knife.  Set aside the bottoms and place the tops on a rack over a piece of parchment paper.  Holding the top half upside down, dip the top surface into the ganache or spread on using a spatula.  Turn the dipped half right side up and place on a wire rack to set.

Spoon ice-cream into the bottom halves; making sure you fill the bottoms with enough to mound above the pastry.  Place the glazed tops onto the ice cream and wriggle gently to settle; serve immediately.

* Once dough is made you need to pipe it immediately when it is still warm.  Piped batter can be frozen and baked at a later time.  When baking choux pastry, try to fill the oven quite full (a filled up oven creates more moisture); the initial built up of steam will help with the expansion and reduce cracking as well.  Pipe your shells evenly spaced and examine which oven temperatures work best for you.  Smaller piped items need to be baked at lower temperatures or you will end up with an overly cracked surface.  If you find that your shells are still cracking significantly, you may want to add a bit more salt to the choux pastry base recipe to minimize cracking.

** The secret to professional looking logs lies in the use of a star piping tip (16 or 18 teeth with 1 to 1.5 cm in diameter) to pipe the pâte à choux onto the baking sheet.  The ridges made by the star dip create gaps that allow the dough to expand evenly with minimal cracking during baking.
 

choux pastry recipe adapted from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé; with Dorie Greenspan

 

 

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