Whaaa?!?! No layer cakes, no buttercream, barely any butter in sight! Is this truly a Daring Baker challenge I see before me? Instead of all those layers and frostings and ganaches and butter and cream, I get puffy eclairs, filled with ice cream and topped with a decadent glaze. I was so very excited to see something a bit out of my comfort zone, and something that I'd gladly keep all of, not wanting to pass it off on anyone at work. To be safe, I halved the choux pastry recipe as well as the glaze recipe, then scaled the chocolate syrup to only make as much as I needed (55 g). Yeah, it was a bit of a pain to work with such small amounts with the syrup, but it meant I didn't have to find a use for it later on (although I've heard from reliable sources it makes a killer chocolate milk). But I like freaking people out by making fun excel spreadsheets and scaling everything. Because I'm nice like that.
I didn't have too many problems with the choux pastry, although I liked the one we used for the puff ring with the TWD crew a while back - that recipe didn't have as many problems with collapsing or anything. After perusing the Daring Baker forums, it seemed like quite a few people had problems with the incredible shrinking eclair. By keeping these in the oven for 30 min instead of the recommended 20, leaving them in the turned-off oven to cool, and also pricking them with a knife after they came out, I managed to avert that sad disaster.
Wait a second - I realize you were probably expecting these to be filled with pastry cream or something like that. But ice cream? Whoops, I thought I could slip that one in. When Meeta and Tony picked eclairs, designed by the quintessential pastry chef himself, Pierre Herme, they gave us freedom. (Freedom!) We had to use the original choux pastry recipe, but we could substitute something in for either the chocolate pastry cream or the chocolate glaze. So, since I had had my eye on a to-die-for ice cream recipe by David Lebovitz and didn't want to be left with lots of egg whites, I subbed Vietnamese coffee toffee ice cream in for the chocolate pastry cream.
Oh yeah, and the coffee toffee ice cream? It's probably my favorite flavor of ice cream ever. How can you go wrong? I loved the little bit of crunch the toffee gave to the whole dessert and the slight grittiness from the ground coffee. Being able to freeze the eclairs with no worry about wrecking them made these much easier to keep too. Not that they lasted too very long (oops!). Even better, the ice cream didn't require any eggs - just half and half, sweetened condensed milk, and coffee. Really, really strong coffee. I made mine double strength and then added a hefty spoonful of espresso powder along with a substantial pinch of ground coffee. What can I say? I love coffee. And it doesn't hurt that this made waaay more than enough to fill the half batch of eclairs I made. Doesn't hurt anything at all. Except sleep. And my hips. But neither of those really matter, right?
PS - Don't forget to take a look at the amazing creations the rest of those Daring Bakers dreamed up! You won't be sorry!
Vietnamese Coffee Toffee Ice Cream (adapted from David Lebovitz's The Perfect Scoop)
1 1/2 c. sweetened condensed milk
1 1/2 c. double strength coffee
1/2 c. half and half
1 tsp. coarsely ground coffee
2 tsp. espresso powder
3/4 c. toffee pieces
Whisk together everything except for the toffee pieces. Chill overnight. Churn according to the instructions for your ice cream maker, adding the toffee in the last 3 minutes of churning. Makes 1 qt of the best coffee ice cream EVER.