I blow my nose, which happened an unfortunate number of times during my chocolate éclair class today. Apparently, there is a large amount of pollen in the air right now (and, apparently, I am allergic to it).
But, no matter! I washed my hands with hot water and soap after every nose blowing incident, and Kat and I managed to make some beautiful chocolate éclairs in our private class today. We learned the art of éclair making from Diane Anthonissen, a wonderful woman who runs Paris Cooking Company, which includes teaching both French pastry and cooking classes.
To start the process, we learned how to make pastry cream, a staple filling for many French desserts. Pastry cream is made of milk, butter, sugar, egg yolks, pastry cream powder (or flour), and whatever flavoring you want. Though we used cocoa powder (told you that I’m a chocolate crazy) to flavor, you can also do vanilla, pistachio, orange, or almost anything your heart desires. It’s sort of like Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans…though I wouldn’t recommend trying all of the flavors. After we did some exciting egg tempering (it’s seriously risky…you could end up with scrambled eggs!) and pastry cream boiling, we set the cream aside to cool.
Next up, we worked on making the choux (pronounced “shoe,” but much tastier) pastry. Choux pastry is also employed in many French desserts, such as profiteroles and the Paris-brest pastry. We used milk, water, butter, sugar, flour, and a little salt to make our Choux pastry, and piped them out immediately to be baked in the oven. I’m glad to announce that my piping skills, after suffering a devastating blow at the macaron class, have returned to par.
In addition to piping out the éclairs, we also made quite a few little chouquettes – French pastry puffs!
After the éclairs had finished baking, it was time to fill them with the chocolate pastry cream.
To achieve this end, we cut a few in half lengthwise, and used the star pastry tip to make a hole in the rest of them, then squeezed in the chocolate pastry cream.
We then dipped them in chocolate fondant and, because they clearly weren’t decadent enough, sprinkled them with toppings.
The final products!
I am sad to announce that this post ends the Paris portion of the trip. Tomorrow, though, begins the 10-day journey through the land of gelato and tiramisu…Italy!
Au revoir for now,