If February means Valentine’s Day, and Valentine’s Day means chocolate… does February mean 28 days of chocolate? Logicians might beg to differ, but we say yes. You have plenty of time to join our Dark Chocolate Eclairs Bakealong challenge, a heartfelt tribute to the pleasures of deep-dark chocolate. Take the Dark Chocolate Eclairs #bakealong challenge, just in time for Valentine’s Day.

eclair1

Now, you might think éclairs are way beyond your experience level but trust me – they’re not. If you can stir together flour, melted butter, and water, you’ve got the savvy for your shells. If you can simmer milk and cocoa in a saucepan, then mix it with egg yolks, sugar, and cornstarch (plus chocolate and butter), you’ve nailed the filling. And the glaze on top? Just two simple ingredients. And the result? Deep-dark deliciousness!

DARK CHOCOLATE ECLAIRS

Ingredients:

For the Choux Pastry

1 cup lukewarm water

1/2 cup unsalted butter

3/8 teaspoon kitchen salt

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

For the Dark Chocolate Filling

1/2 cup white granulated sugar

5 tablespoons cornstarch

4 large egg yolks, room temperature

2 cups whole full cream milk

1/2 cup Dutch-process cocoa

1/3 cup chopped baking chocolate

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

For the Chocolate Glaze

2/3 cup semisweet chocolate

1 1/2 teaspoons corn syrup

1/2 cup heavy cream

Method:

  • Combine water, butter and salt in a saucepan. Heat until the butter has melted, and bring to a rolling boil.
  • Add the flour all at once, stirring vigorously. Return the pan to the burner and cook it over medium heat.

  • Stir until mixture smooths out and follows the spoon around pan. This should take far less than a minute.
  • Remove the pan from the heat, and let the mixture cool for 5 to 10 minutes to a temperature below 125°F.

  • Transfer the mixture to mixer, and beat in the large eggs one at a time. Mixture will look curdled at first.
  • When you add the last egg it should become smooth. Beat for at least 2 minutes after adding the last egg.

  • Scoop batter into a pastry bag, and add a 3/4″ plain tip. If you don’t have a pastry bag, take a plastic bag.
  • Stuff it in a tall glass, and scoop batter into the bag. Push batter to bottom of bag, and cut off one corner.

  • To shape the éclair shells, pipe the batter on the prepared pan in 5-inch logs about 3/4-inch in diameter.
  • Make sure to squeeze as much of the sticky batter out of bag as possible; a bowl scraper works well here.

  • You should be able to make about 20 éclair shells out of the recipe. Bake the éclair shells for 15 minutes.
  • Then reduce temperature to 350°F and bake it for an additional 25 minutes, until medium golden brown.

  • Remove from oven and make a slit in the top of each, and return to the oven to bake for 5 more minutes.
  • This will allow any steam to escape from the shells. Let the shells rest till they are cool enough to handle.

  • If you plan on filling and finishing them right away, split each shell in half to make top and bottom pieces.
  • For the dark chocolate filling, combine the sugar and cornstarch in mixing bowl. Whisk in the egg yolks.

  • Mixture will look like scrambled eggs. Bring milk and cocoa to simmer in a saucepan over medium heat.
  • Pour about a quarter of the hot milk and chocolate into the egg yolk mixture, whisking till incorporated.

  • Return the egg yolk mixture to the saucepan and put the saucepan back on the burner over medium heat.
  • Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture becomes very thick and just starts to boil. Remove pan from heat.

  • Add the baking chocolate and butter, stirring until it is melted and smooth. Transfer the filling to a bowl.
  • Cover it with plastic wrap, pushing the wrap right down onto the filling and cool it to room temperature.

  • Refrigerate the filling for at least 2 hours. For the glaze, combine the semisweet chocolate and corn syrup.
  •  Heat heavy cream to simmering, then pour it over chocolate. Sit for about a minute then stir until smooth.

  • To assemble the éclairs, pipe or spoon about 1 ounce (30g) of the chocolate filling into the pastry shells.
  • Set the éclair tops over the filled bottoms and drizzle the glaze over top. Makes 20 dark chocolate éclairs.

KAF February 2017 Challenge

This particular rice flour pudding was by all means the result of keeping a box of rice flour and a tin of condensed milk side by side in my kitchen drawer for weeks with no inkling that the two could be combined in a single creamy dessert. Originally from Northern parts of India, phirni is a well loved milk dish traditionally served in small earthen pots. Its preparation is somewhat similar to kheer, which is made from whole rice, whereas phirni is prepared using ground rice or rice flour. Best served after it has been chilled for a couple of hours, the traditional recipe calls for full cream milk though I wanted to go along with the condensed milk to make it thick and smooth.

Rose water and saffron are usually added to enhance flavours but please do not omit the freshly ground cardamom to maintain its authenticity. In contrast to the classic semolina pudding we always prepare for puja ceremonies, this light rice flour pudding was my offering to Lord Shiva for Maha Shivratree. Celebrated with unwavering devotion in honor of one of the main deities of Hinduism, the great night of Shiva is preceded by the pilgrimage to Ganga Talao. Every year, thousands of Mauritians undertake the journey on foot, some carrying heavily decorated kanwars and chanting the powerful Om Namah Shivaya mantra as they make their slow progress towards the sacred lake.

PHIRNI

Ingredients:

500 g fine rice flour, sifted

392g condensed milk

2 1/2 cups full cream milk

2 cups lukewarm water

1/4 cup unrefined sugar

2 teaspoons cardamom powder

1 1/2 teaspoon rose water/ gulab jal

Small pinch of saffron strands

3 tablespoon almonds, chopped

3 tablespoon pistachios, chopped

Method:

  • Sift the rice flour into a large mixing bowl to remove any large lumps. Add the condensed milk and stir.

  • Slowly add milk and water till a batter of dosa-like consistency forms and place in a heavy bottomed pan.

  • Cook on low heat, stirring continuously for 10 to 12 minutes. The texture should be coarse and little thick.

  • Add the unrefined sugar to the mixture and mix well. Continue to cook on low flame the sugar dissolves.

  • Before removing the pan from the heat, add the cardamom powder and rose water and give it a good stir.

  • Leave to cool to room temperature then chill in the refrigerator for a couple of hours before serving time.

  • Serve phirni in small bowls and garnish with chopped almonds, pistachios and saffron strands. Serves 6.

Phirni – Rice Flour Pudding

While you can make use of your good, old coffee machine to brew fresh granules for this sensational summer drink, I tried to adapt it for those who do not have or cannot be bothered with filtered coffee. For those purists who swear by the genuine stuff, go straight to the unaltered recipe on Epicurious.com. Those who are not so squeamish over instant coffee, grab your jar of regular Nescafe and start by making the coffee jelly which is the magic ingredient in this drink. I would suggest that you go for a stronger dose than you are used to as the freezing process will, to some extent, numb the intensity of the coffee flavour that comes through. Chill for a couple of hours, then stretch yourself under a beach umbrella and sip lazily through a bubble straw [ideally with a view on the beach] on a scorching summer day.

FROZEN ICED COFFEE + COFFEE JELLY

Ingredients:

For the Coffee Jelly

1 tablespoon agar agar

4 teaspoons instant coffee

2 tablespoons caster sugar

2 cups cold water

For the Whipped Cream

3/4 cup heavy cream

1 teaspoon caster sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Frozen Iced Coffee

1 tablespoon instant coffee

1 1/2 cups cold whole milk

1 1/2 tablespoons cocoa powder

2 tablespoons golden syrup

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Method:

  • Dissolve agar agar in 3 tablespoons cool water in a small bowl. Let stand till bloomed, about 2 minutes.
  • Meanwhile combine cold coffee and sugar in a large container. Gently stir agar agar mixture into coffee.

  • Do not stir too vigorously else air bubbles will appear. Chill the mixture until it is firm for about 2 hours.
  • Using an electric mixer on medium-high speed or whisk, whip cream in a large bowl till soft peaks form.

  • Add sugar and vanilla and whip to medium peaks. Chill whipped cream while preparing the iced coffee.
  • For the iced coffee, blend coffee, cocoa, milk, syrup, vanilla, and 3 cups ice into a blender until smooth.

  • To assemble, cut coffee jelly into 3/4″ cubes and fill serving glasses with 1/2 cup cubed coffee jelly each.
  • Spoon 3 tablespoons of whipped cream over each and spread it around to create a solid layer of cream.

  • Divide frozen iced coffee (about 1 cup each) among glasses and carefully pour on top of the cream layer.
  • Top glasses with more whipped cream and serve immediately with bubble tea straws. Makes 4 servings.

Frozen Iced Coffee

About Me

PrerrnaMirchi
Mauritius

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