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archive for February 3rd, 2013

i do déclair

Sunday, February 3rd, 2013

Recipe: chocolate éclairs

Around this time of year, I’m usually too busy cleaning my house and cooking traditional dishes for the Lunar New Year to take notice of Valentine’s Day. That and the fact that I am not romantic AT ALL. Honestly, Valentine’s Day would not have been on my radar this year if it weren’t for my client’s product shoot last month. Since several of you inquired about the chocolates from this post, I thought I’d share some Robin Chocolates with you.

say hi to the valentine’s day chocolate truffle lineup (each is a different flavor)

Robin Chocolates is a local chocolatier based in Longmont, Colorado (just outside of Boulder). The confections and pastries that come out of that store are simply gorgeous, matched in beauty by the incredible quality of these award winning chocolates (rose caramel, salt caramel, raspberry, irish cream, molé, pomegranate, lavender, orange blossom, key lime pie… to name a few). I love working with Robin, the chocolatier and owner, in part because her candies are such a pleasure to photograph. The other reason is because Robin is badass. She is this petite, smart, no-nonsense, hard-working, talented, passionate, funny woman who is on her third successful career and loving it (first was Navy, then tech). BADASS, I say.

meet robin

Each chocolate is a work of art – elegantly decorated and lovingly hand-crafted. Whenever I pick up product to photograph, Robin leads me around the back and fills a bag of “rejects” for me to give to Jeremy (because I don’t really eat chocolate and yes, she thinks I’m crazy). I mentioned the Valentine’s shoot to my mom a few weeks ago. Mom likes chocolate. She asked if I could send her the truffles when I’m done photographing them. I explained that I didn’t think they were suitable to send to her since they are heavily handled and kept around for almost a month until we are sure there are no reshoots. I could detect the disappointment in her voice even though she said it was okay. So I ordered a box of the Valentine’s truffles just for Mom.

12 of hearts: now that’s a pretty gift

And because I like you guys, I asked Robin if I could give away two boxes of her VERY AMAZING Valentine’s Day chocolate truffles. Robin does not screw around, kids. She uses Valrhona chocolate and magically weaves flavors and textures together into a most decadent and sublime masterpiece. You want a box, or at the very least, you want to send a box to someone you love… I mean someone you REALLY love. This is coming from me, the person who doesn’t really dig on chocolate, but who won’t shut up about Robin Chocolates.

THE DEALIO: It’s a giveaway! Win one of two 12 of Hearts boxes (heart-shaped chocolate truffles) shipped anywhere in the United States. That means if you live outside the US but want to ship the chocolates to someone or someplace in the States, you can enter.

1) Leave a comment on this post sharing who your favorite Valentine is.
2) One comment per person, please.
3) Comments must be received by 11:59 pm Mountain Standard Time, Thursday, February 7, 2013.
4) The chocolates can only ship within the United States (winner’s recipient must have a US mailing address).
5) Two winners will be selected at random by Jeremy (Kaweah has retired).
6) The two winners will be announced on Friday, February 8, 2013.

Good luck!

kaweah can’t eat the chocolates, but she’ll taste the props

We’re not done with chocolate, not by a long shot. Back in the day, when I was a member of the Daring Bakers and our ranks numbered in the hundreds, one of our monthly challenges was éclairs. I was excited because éclairs had been on my “learn to make” list for a while. But the week before the reveal date, I went into the ER with a leaky appendix (unbeknownst to us, it had been leaking for months) and left a few days later without my appendix. I had missed the August 2008 challenge, but the éclairs remained on my to do list for four and a half years. I finally crossed it off the list this weekend. The recipe has multiple parts mixed and matched from two different sources, so I’ll present them to you in the order I made them. First: chocolate pastry cream.

milk, egg yolks, cornstarch, sugar, butter, chocolate

heat the milk in one pan

stir the yolks, cornstarch, and sugar together in another pan

temper the egg yolk mixture with the hot milk

If I were eating the éclairs, I would have made regular pastry cream. But I made these for Jeremy (and my neighbors) and I knew that a chocolate pastry cream would appeal to him. This chocolate pastry cream comes from the Daring Bakers challenge which follows Pierre Hermé’s recipe. It’s probably the nicest and most well-behaved pastry cream I’ve ever made – thick and smooth with terrific flavor. I think as long as you use good quality chocolate (I used Valrhona 66%) and other ingredients, it can’t go wrong.

add chocolate to the pastry cream

finish with butter

rich, silky, smooth

**Jump for more butter**