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Wednesday, December 3, 2014

December ABC challenge: Whole Wheat Mocha Eclairs with Espresso Rum Filling

Shortly before seeing this month's challenge, I happened to watch this video of an old British TV show.  Can't Cook, Won't Cook was a UK game show and cooking program that was broadcast on BBC1 on weekday mornings from 1995 to 2000.  This episode, hosted by Kevin Woodford, featured two middle-aged rockers (Kelly Groucutt and Roy Wood, both of Electric Light Orchestra fame) competing over Tia Maria éclairs and judged by their teenage daughters.  (Let the hilarity begin!)  I decided to use the same flavors for this challenge.

Choux pastry doesn't keep well, so I reduced the recipe by 1/4, which should have made only 3 éclairs.  I wasn't sure what size to pipe them, and after piping 3 I had a lot of batter left, so I ran down each one again.  I still had enough batter left to make a small puff.  Because the éclairs ended up fairly large, I was concerned about having enough filling.  To extend and lighten the filling, I added some rum-infused whipped cream.

Here's what I used.  Deviations from 1/4 of the original recipe are shown in strikeout and italics:

For the coffee pastry cream:
3/4 cup whole milk, divided
2 tablespoons sugar
1/16 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cornstarch
3/4 teaspoon all-purpose flour
1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon espresso powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 tablespoons heavy cream (optional)
2 teaspoons Myers rum (optional)

In a small saucepan, stir together all but 2 tablespoons of the milk, the sugar, and the salt.  Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar.  Meanwhile, whisk the cornstarch, flour, and egg yolk with the remaining 2 tablespoons milk.  Whisk some of the hot milk mixture with the egg yolk to temper it.  Pour the egg/milk mixture back into the remaining simmering milk. Doing this through a strainer will help prevent lumps later. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly with a whisk, until the mixture thickens; remove from the heat. Stir in the butter and espresso powder until smooth.  Pour into a heat-safe bowl; rub a piece of butter over the surface of the cream, top with a piece of plastic wrap (make sure it touches the top of the pastry cream so it doesn't develop a skin), then refrigerate until cool.

When ready to serve, whip the cream until thick, then add the rum.  Continue whipping until stiff peaks form.  Fold gently into the cooled custard.

For the éclair pastry:
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons white whole wheat flour or whole wheat pastry flour
2 tablespoons unbleached bread flour
1 large egg, lightly beaten

Preheat the oven to 425°F.  Combine the whole wheat and bread flours in a small bowl and set aside.  Place the water, butter and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a rolling boil over medium high heat.  Remove from the heat and add the flours all at once; stir vigorously until well combined. Return to the heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the dough forms a rough ball, about 15 to 30 seconds.  Remove the pan from the heat, transfer mixture to a mixing bowl (because you don't want to put eggs in a hot pan), and let cool for a few minutes until still quite warm, but not hot enough to cook the egg.   (Since this is a small amount, it will cool in just a few minutes, especially if you spread it around.)  Beat in the egg a portion at a time, in 3 or 4 installments. Each portion should be fully incorporated before the next is added. Beat for 2 minutes after adding the last bit of egg.  The dough will be thick and sticky.

Ready for the oven.
Pipe the dough into 3 4"-long (and about 1.5"-wide) strips onto a parchment-lined baking sheet (I used an insulated one) and bake for 15 minutes at 425°F.  Reduce the heat to 375° and bake for 15 more minutes, until golden brown. Remove from the oven and, using a sharp paring knife, make a small slit near the top of each to let the steam out. Return the éclairs to the oven, turn the oven off, and prop the oven door open slightly.  Let the éclairs cool inside for 30 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool completely.


For the ganache:
1 1/2 ounces chopped semisweet chocolate
2 tablespoons heavy cream
3/4 teaspoon sugar syrup

Put all the ingredients in a heat-safe bowl.  Heat gently and stir until the chocolate melts and the icing is smooth.

To assemble, slice each éclair in half horizontally with a very sharp knife.  Spoon 1/3 of the filling into the bottom half, then replace the top.  Spoon or drizzle chocolate ganache over the éclairs and allow to drip down the sides. Serve immediately.

Conclusion:  Someone come take the spoon away!  I might just sit and eat the whole batch.  Delicious, decadent, and richly flavored.  They taste very naughty.  I'm not sure the whole wheat  goodness counteracts the badness involved here.  Anyway, no one would know there was whole wheat involved.

Original pastry cream recipe:  Pastry Cream via King Arthur Flour
Original pastry recipe: Whole Grain Cream Puff Pastry via King Arthur Flour
Original glaze recipe:  Icing via King Arthur Flour


  1. I love your inspiration- ha! Those sound decadent and dangerous- it's smart that you minimized so you wouldn't be tempted. I love the flavor combos!

    1. Thanks, Trisha. It definitely helps keep things under control to have much smaller bakes. And by baking smaller batches, I can try out more recipes!

  2. I love your math skills! I have a hard time halving a recipe truth be told. I love that you make just enough. Beautiful. KAF whole wheat brownies are my favorite recipe on their site. Excited to see you used a whole grain pastry.

    1. Thanks, Virginia. It gets really interesting when I try to do the reduction on the fly. This time I took no chances and had it all calculated out and written down. And truly, I completely forgot they had whole wheat flour in them! I should try that WW brownie recipe -- I bet I'd love it.

  3. Oooo, coffee cream filling...... delicious! And your inspiration for the flavour sounds hilarious.

    1. Thanks, Zosia. And yes, the show was pretty silly. You can imagine.

  4. I am with you on the whole-wheat adaptation and also agree that there is hardly enough goodness to outweigh the decadent components. Eat dessert first, why not? I like your mocha espresso combo. Brilliant!

    1. Sometimes you just have to give in! I was pleased that the WW didn't seem to have any negative affect on the pastry -- not that I noticed. But I didn't feel the least bit healthier for using it amidst all that cream and chocolate.

  5. Great idea of adding espresso powder to the pastry cream and whole wheat to the eclair. It's a good thing only made 1/4 of the recipe, ha ha. "Step away from the eclairs, ma'am", ha ha.

    1. Ha! Yes, they're addicting -- they go down SOOO easily!

  6. These look good. I think adding whole wheat flour is inspired. Definitely would feel less guilty about eating these.

    1. They were still pretty decadent. The whole wheat was just sort of a weak wave at good nutrition.