Lately, I have developed a huge interest on all things Julia Child. I have ordered many of her books and her DVDs from Amazon. It is no surprise that a lot of people are obsessed with her. It is much more obvious after reading “My Life in France”. As the title suggests, it is a memoir of her life and culinary adventures during her years in Paris. Her passion about food, all the details she can remember about the food she ate 50 years ago and how she takes all of these so seriously is mind blowing. More on my recent Julia Child obsession later…
I also ordered “Baking with Julia”, another amazing cookbook, this time adorned with Dorie Greenspan’s wonderful writing. Her detailed descriptions, expertise and passion makes all the difference. I am hooked on her writing ever since I bought “Chocolate Deserts by Pierre Herme”.
Unable to stop my shopping craze, I also ordered “Paris Sweets” by Dorie Greenspan. She had put together her delicious discoveries of thirty years from the world renowned Parisian patisseries. She provides not only the recipes (that have never been printed before), but also background on how she discovered that specific patisserie and how she likes to serve the dessert at hand.
After reading it cover to cover, it was time to practice. I needed to digest the information a bit. So I started looking for a recipe to try a couple of days before dinner at Mahir and Vera. I had been baking muffins, tarts, cookies and cakes for so long and I got quite tired. I even stopped baking for Pure by Cuppa. So it had to be something I have never tried before. I decided to try Coffee Eclairs, recipe from Fauchon.
To make it visually more interesting I decided to shape my eclairs as swans. Also, instead of coffee pastry cream and coffee fondant, I prepared raspberry pastry cream for the filling (and melted chocolate for the wings). At this point, I am considering maybe to call these profiteroles rather than eclairs as they look more like it.
With careful planning (as photographed below), I was able to come up with quite decent swans. I hope you enjoy the process as much as I do.
Swan Raspberry Eclairs
Ingredients – The Cream Puff Dough
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 stick (115 grams) unsalted butter
- Pinch of sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 5 large eggs, at room temperature
Method – The Cream Puff Dough
Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 375 F (190 C). On a parchment paper, draw eight swan heads (with the neck) and set aside. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Fit a pastry bag with a large round tip and keep nearby.
Bring the milk, water, butter, sugar and salt to a rapid boil in a heavy bottomed medium saucepan over high heat. Add the flour all at once, lower the heat to medium low and quickly start stirring with a wooden spoon, until a light crust forms on the bottom of the pan. Keep stirring for a couple more minutes to dry the dough and until smooth. Take off heat. Add eggs one by one while beating the dough until it is shiny and thick. Once all the eggs have been incorporated, the still-warm dough should be used immediately.
Spoon half of the dough into the pastry bag and pipe out circles of dough that are each about 2-3 inches (6-7 cm) in diameter, making sure to leave about 2 inches (5 cm) puff space between them. Repeat with 2/3 of the dough. Bake for 10 minutes before slipping the handle of a wooden spoon into the oven to keep the door slightly ajar. After the 15th minute, rotate pans front to back and top to bottom and continue baking for another 10 minutes (total baking time is 25 minutes) until the eclairs are golden, firm and puffed (adjust cooking time accordingly). Transfer the eclairs to a rack and let cool.
Place the parchment paper with the swan drawings on a table, put the blank parchment paper on top and pipe inside the border with the smallest tip you have. Repeat until you run out of dough. Bake for 7 minutes before slipping the handle of a wooden spoon into the oven to keep the door slightly ajar. After the 10th minute, rotate pans front to back and top to bottom and continue baking for another 5 minutes (total baking time is 15 minutes) until the swan heads are golden, firm and puffed (these will not puff as much – adjust cooking time accordingly). Transfer the swan heads to a rack and let cool.
Ingredients – Raspberry Pastry Cream
Note: The whole process is much faster if you prepare the pastry cream the day before.
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
- 6 large egg yolks
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup cornstarch, sifted
- 3 1/2 tablespoons (50 g) unsalted butter, cut into three pats, at room temperature
- 2 1/2 cups (450 g) raspberry (I used frozen, thawed)
- Optional – Red food coloring
Method – Raspberry Pastry Cream
- Bring the milk and vanilla bean to a boil, cover the pan, turn off the heat and allow the milk to infuse for at least 10 minutes (up to an hour). Fill a large bowl with ice cubes and set aside. Whisk the egg yolks, sugar and cornstarch together in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Whisking constantly, drizzle one quarter of the hot milk over the yolks. When the yolks are warm, whisk the remainder of the milk into the yolks in a steadier stream; remove and discard the vanilla pod.
- Put the pan over medium heat and whisking vigorously, bring the mixture to the boil. Keep at the boil (still whisking) for 1-2 minutes, then take off heat and press the cream through a strainer into a small bowl. Set the bowl into the ice bath and stirring frequently cool the cream to 140 F (60C). Remove the cream from the ice bath and whisk in the butter. Take another strainer, put the raspberries in it and by pushing with a wooden spoon, crush and squeeze the berries into the cream. Whisk to blend. If you are not happy with the color of the pastry cream (I wasn’t), you can add tiny drops of red food coloring until you achieve a nicer pink color. Transfer the bowl into the ice bath and cool completely.
- Covered tightly with plastic wrap (press the plastic against the cream’s surface to create and airtight seal), pastry cream can be refrigerated for 2 days.
- Carefully cut the round eclairs horizontally in half, lift of the tops and cut the tops vertically into two (these will become the wings). Melt 6 ounces (160 g) of bittersweet chocolate, dip the wings into the chocolate, lay on a parchment paper and cool in the refrigerator for the chocolate to set.
- Spoon the pastry cream onto the base, position the chocolate covered wings vertically (chocolate side facing outside) and put the swan head in the middle. Refrigerate the eclairs for at least 1 hour before serving.