Day 244: Chocolate Éclairs with Espresso Mascarpone Cream


This morning I was pummeled awake at 7 am by a 3 year old and his 65 pound puppy. It was chilly and rainy and grey, so I pulled on my big brown socks with the orange stripes (damn sexy, they are) and went downstairs, made oatmeal for W, put on his beloved (and very dated) Green Eggs and Ham DVD, and made cream puffs.

Today is the day for my Daring Bakers challenge – and this month our assignment was chocolate eclairs. Happy is the day when someone else tells me I have to make eclairs, absolving me of any guilt.

When I was a kid, I literally used to fantasize about chocolate eclairs. I would choose a cream-filled chocolate eclair over almost anything; it seemed to me the biggest and best thing with the most elements – doughnut, chocolate and cream. If the choice was between cream puffs and Nanaimo bars, I would have had a hard time. Fortunately I can’t remember ever being in that predicament.

It turned into a good eating day, albeit an extraordinarily unhealthy one; kind of like Christmas and my birthday all at once. Mike and I got to be judges at the BBQ on the Bow barbecue competition this afternoon – our categories were chicken and pork ribs – a tough job, but somebody’s gotta. So we sampled 6 barbecue teams’ chicken and 5 teams’ ribs – each judge is given a large baggie so that he/she may take just a nibble and then doggie-bag the rest, but you must all know by now I’m not one for restraint. I made another judge laugh so hard a rib almost came out her nose when I scarfed down our first in its entirety while everyone else sniffed and licked and pondered their dainty bites. (We weren’t allowed to talk – it was like laughing at your friend in math class, which made it even funnier.)

That was mid-afternoon, and afterward we were so cold and damp that we needed big cafe mochas, and then ate a few handfuls of Glossette peanuts at Mom & Dad’s when we went to pick up W. We were then supposed to go for a barbecue at C & J’s, and my plan was to pile the cream puffs into a rough mountain and stick a sparkler in the tippy-top one for J’s belated birthday, but the party got rained out and we got stuck at home with an entire batch of freshly made eclairs. NOT GOOD. Unless you’re one of our neighbours. So I guess dinner was a long procession of chicken, ribs, Glossette peanuts, cafe mochas and chocolate eclairs with espresso-mascarpone cream. Talk about the stuff dreams are made of.

Under the motto Culinary Liberty for All, we were given the freedom to do what we liked with our eclairs, provided at least one chocolate element remained. I chose to keep the chocolate glaze and fill them with a mascarpone cream. (I didn’t want to stray too far from a creamy filling; I’m fairly picky when it comes to fillings, especially of the creamy sort. It was always a disappointment to find them filled with some sort of pudding. I even prefer real cream to pastry cream.) And when I went to the Italian market to pick up my tub of mascarpone, it occurred to me that the cherry preserves I always pick up while there (for some reason I can buy a jar of morello cherry jam at many small ethnic groceries for around $2.50) would go just swell; especially if I swirled the cherry jam throughout the mascarpone-cream mixture, then I’d really have morello cherry-mascarpone fool, which sounds so much more elaborate, don’t you think? But for some reason I was set on a chocolate-espresso combination, so I made those. And then I quickly beat a little more whipping cream and swirled in some cherry jam, just to try it. Yet more evidence of my complete infatuation with eclairs and food in general.

You could use any pate au choux recipe to make cream puffs, but we used Pierre Hermé’s, from Chocolate Desserts By Pierre Hermé, written by Dorie Greenspan. Here are my immediate thoughts:

– I don’t like having to make one recipe in order to make another (in this case, a specific chocolate sauce in order to use 7 tablespoons of it – not 1/2 cup, but 7 tablespoons – to make the chocolate glaze, when you don’t need the chocolate sauce for anything else) – instead I mixed up a batch with just chocolate, cream and honey; the recipe is below

– I’ve made choux pastry many a time using just water, butter, flour and eggs, so I didn’t see the need for whole milk mixed with the water – I used 1%, because that’s what was in my fridge, and it worked just fine

– I also don’t see the need for unsalted butter, especially since you’re adding 1/4 tsp. salt anyway; I used salted butter and omitted the salt

– anytime you make cream puffs of any shape, pierce them through their sides as soon as they come out of the oven, otherwise they tend to collapse on themselves as they cool

– you don’t need things like a pastry bag or metal icing spatula. You can use a big ziploc bag and cut off the corner to pipe out your dough, and I drizzled the glaze overtop using the whisk I used to make it

I hope they don’t kick me out of the Daring Bakers for my delinquency.


Chocolate Éclairs with Espresso Mascarpone Cream

Recipe link


August 31, 2008



1/2 cup whole milk

1/2 cup water

1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces

1/4 tsp sugar

1/4 tsp salt

1 cup all-purpose flour

5 large eggs, at room temperature

Mascarpone Cream:

1 8 oz. container mascarpone cheese, at room temperature

1/3 cup sugar

1 Tbsp. instant espresso, dissolved in 1 Tbsp. water

1 tsp. vanilla

1 cup whipping cream

Chocolate Glaze:

3/4 cup whipping or coffee (18%) cream

6 oz. chocolate, chopped

1 Tbsp. honey or corn syrup


1In a heavy bottomed medium saucepan, bring the milk, water, butter, sugar and salt to the boil.


3Once the mixture is at a rolling boil, add all of the flour at once, reduce the heat to medium and start to stir the mixture vigorously with a wooden spoon. The dough comes together very quickly. Do not worry if a slight crust forms at the bottom of the pan, it’s supposed to. You need to carry on stirring for a further 2-3 minutes to dry the dough. After this time the dough will be very soft and smooth. (And it will have pulled away from the sides of the pan.)


5Transfer the dough into a bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or using your handmixer or if you still have the energy, continue by hand. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each egg has been added to incorporate it into the dough. You will notice that after you have added the first egg, the dough will separate, once again do not worry. As you keep working the dough, it will come back all together again by the time you have added the third egg. In the end the dough should be thick and shiny and when lifted it should fall back into the bowl in a ribbon.


7The dough should be still warm. It is now ready to be used for the éclairs.


9Preheat your oven to 375F. Divide the oven into thirds by positioning the racks in the upper and lower half of the oven. Line two baking sheets with waxed or parchment paper.


11Fill a large pastry bag fitted with a 2/3 (2cm) plain tip nozzle with the warm cream puff dough. (Alternatively, you could use a heavy-duty ziploc bag and snip a chunk off the corner to squeeze the batter out.) Pipe the dough onto the baking sheets in long, 4 to 41/2 inch chubby fingers. Leave about 2 inches (5 cm) space in between each dough strip to allow them room to puff. The dough should give you enough to pipe 20-24 éclairs.


13Slide both the baking sheets into the oven and bake for 7 minutes. After the 7 minutes, slip the handle of a wooden spoon into the door to keep it ajar. After 5 more minutes, when the éclairs have been in the oven for a total of 12 minutes, rotate the sheets top to bottom and front to back. Continue baking for a further 8 minutes or until the éclairs are puffed, golden and firm. The total baking time should be approximately 20 minutes.


15The éclairs can be kept in a cool, dry place for several hours before filling. (Careful not to seal them in a plastic bag, which will make them go soft.)


17To make the mascarpone cream, beat the mascarpone, sugar, espresso and vanilla with an electric mixer. Add 1/2 cup cream; beat until soft peaks form. Add the rest of the cream and beat until thick and stiff. Cover and chill for at least 1 hour or up to 5 hours.


19To make the chocolate glaze, bring the cream to a simmer in a saucepan; take it off the heat and stir in the chocolate and honey. Let it sit to allow the warmth of the cream to melt the chocolate, stir until smooth and use immediately.


21To assemble the éclairs, slice the pastries horizontally, using a serrated knife and a gently sawing motion. Set aside the bottoms and place the tops on a rack over a piece of parchment paper.


23The glaze should be barely warm to the touch and spreadable. Spread (or drizzle) the glaze over the tops of the éclairs using a metal icing spatula. Allow the tops to set and in the meantime fill the bottoms with the pastry cream.


25Pipe or spoon the pastry cream into the bottoms of the éclairs. Make sure you fill the bottoms with enough cream to mound above the pastry. Place the glazed tops onto the pastry cream and wriggle gently to settle them.


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6 comments on “Day 244: Chocolate Éclairs with Espresso Mascarpone Cream

  1. maplesugar
    August 31, 2008 at 8:45 pm

    Those eclairs look beeeautiful – if not following the rules yields such delicious looking results I say go for it! 😉

    Tonight’s dinner was leftover turkey sandwiches from Ali’s birthday party(turkey from Jackson’s deli at CFM…no factory processed meats for me thanks) and because I had found chicken chorizo at Missing Link – your Lentil & Sausage soup from day one. Exactly the sort of belly warming dinner for a long rainy day.

  2. Dana mccauley
    September 1, 2008 at 10:32 am

    I used to beg to go for eclairs when I was a kid, too. Unfortunately, I didn’t know a good eclair from my elbow until I was in my early twenties. And once I met a good one. Oh, my! My life changed for good.

  3. Nichole
    September 1, 2008 at 11:56 am

    The éclairs look amazing!

  4. marce
    September 1, 2008 at 12:26 pm

    Will attempt the eclairs next weekend for a special birthday. I made your quinoa and roasted veg for dinner last night with goat’s cheese instead of feta (that’s what we had around). It was delicious. Thanks for the continued inspiration.

  5. Nicole
    September 1, 2008 at 1:29 pm

    um i wish i was your neighbour right now.

  6. Cheryl
    September 1, 2008 at 8:45 pm

    It’s a good thing you write your posts at the end of the day, otherwise us locals might come over and pretend to be your neighbours.

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