If the Choux Fits…

Eager as always to find out what the next Daring Baker challenge would be, checking almost hourly for the new baking assignment, my jaw must have hit the floor when it was finally announced. Seriously, talk about unbelievably well-timed coincidences- Having finally made some serious headway on making vegan cream puffs, who could have even hoped to guess that we were assigned the task of creating éclairs?! Not me, that’s for sure!

Although there was still some work to be done on the recipe, as I had mentioned previously, I was confident that this one would be a breeze. Naturally, that was my major downfall, right from the start. Putting it off for weeks, certain that all would go well, there was no time left to correct mistakes should they occur. …Can you see where this is going?

While the first batch of pate a choux may have appeared stunning, they looked much better than they tasted. Tough and rather bland, spectacular pastries they were not. In attempts to tenderize and inject some more flavor, they became structurally compromised and fell faster than a soufflé out of the oven. Not a disaster, but definitely not an éclair, all that could be done was use two of the flat ovals to create one whole pastry. Forming a top and bottom from the skinny choux pieces instead of slitting one in half as directed, they looked good enough that I could let it go. Sad to say, I’m not yet ready to release this recipe, but there should be a lot of good alternatives out there now, thanks to this challenge.

Then came the choice of what to fill these with! Reaching deep into into my cupboards for inspiration, I settled on a peanut-butter-scotch mousse, which was rich, decadent, and delicious…. in theory. In reality, it was unctuous and over-sweetened, nothing that I would wish to share outside of the family. Alas, these éclairs have nothing more than pretty facades covering up unappealing, insipid personalities. Someday soon I hope to revise both recipes, but this particular challenge didn’t work out so well after all.

Disappointing to be sure, but still, I wouldn’t consider it a complete failure. It’s just one step closer to the perfect vegan pate a choux.

58 thoughts on “If the Choux Fits…

  1. I am so excited for the perfected recipe! I have been wanting to make some great puff pastry or eclairs!! Cream filling and flaky pastry dough…what’s not to love?! These look great, anyway!

  2. That’s too bad! The peanut-butter-scotch mousse sounds like it would be amazing! It’s always frustrating a recipe doesn’t turn out as well as it should. Your photos are gorgeous and I’m sure you’ll conquer vegan eclairs yet!

  3. oh hannah,
    even when you write about your “failures,” it’s still a great read. sorry the eclairs didn’t live up to their full potential – but I admire your determination and creativity!


  4. Yes, making a vegan choux was quite the challenge. Mine turned out a bit tough as well, but still tasty! Your look beautiful and I love your choice of filling!

  5. Who would have thought! They sure look gorgeous! I think it’s a real challenge to make these pastries vegan.

  6. Maybe they’re facades, but they’re beautiful, Helen.
    I’m looking forward to your vegan choux recipe. The number of eggs in this one gave mine an “eggy” taste and smell that we weren’t comfortable with.
    i managed an eggless (but not vegan) version of pastry cream, though.

  7. Hannah, your éclairs STILL look grand to me!! And hey, I’ve only eaten éclairs on one occasion before, and I wasn’t crazy about them; but yours make me want to give them another chance! :0)

  8. They looks so pretty it’s hard to believe that they don’t taste amazing! But I guess the cliche “don’t judge a book by its cover” really fits here. But that’s okay- you’re just one step closer to perfecting this recipe!

  9. Very valiant headway on the vegan choux front – I’ve really gotten into my vegan cupcakes recently and would love to find a perfected choux recipe. They at least looking gorgeous (and with excellent, steady piping skills).

  10. Hannah, those look great. Even though this batch didn’t come out exactly the way you would have wanted you came away with a pretty dessert and a bit more experience with this tempermental dough. I look forward to being able to try out your recipe when you finish it.

  11. I thought about you the minute the challenge went up in your quest for the perfect cream puff dough! They look gorgeous Hannah and the filling sounds wonderful!!

  12. Mine tasted great but never fluffed or puffed. Yours look beautiful! This was my first Daring Bakers Challenge and it was much more difficult that I expected.

    Vegan pâte à choux … you will be ours. Oh yes … you will be ours.

  13. Well, they definitely look gorgeous! I’m sorry to hear that they didn’t live up to your expectations in reality, though. Hopefully you’ll perfect the recipes someday and share them with us. I’m definitely curious about the mousse recipe!

  14. You will, no doubt,come up with the perfect vegan eclair in time. These sure do look gorgeous, even if not as tasty as they are pretty. Very Daring Baker!

  15. It’s hard to imagine that these didn’t taste up to par, because they’re damn pretty!

    I don’t know if these Long John donuts are anything like eclairs, and I’ve never made them, but, eh, they look like ’em.

    Regardless of taste, these are a beautiful attempt especially since I’m too intimidated by compromises like these to join Daring Bakers.

  16. That is the yummiest looking unsuccessful challenge result. I think they look gorgeous and that filling sounds incredible, I’m eager to see your final recipe for pate a choux; I’m going to wait until you release it before trying cream puffs again!

  17. Helen – they do look good. I was quite interested to see how one can veganize this recipe. a nig challenge and I hope you manage to re-do these one day. but thank sou so much for giving these a go!

  18. They do look beautiful and delicious, pity they didn’t live up to your expectations. But as you said, one step closer to the perfect vegan choux :)

  19. They do look beautiful! I’m sorry you were not happy with it. My first tray was the same, it did not have a pocket and was flat as can be. I’m sure you’ll find a way :)!

  20. Too bad about the results with the peanut-butter-scotch, good idea. They do look fantastic, though.

  21. If the choux fits is too funny, I like the title I came up with also, so I enjoy humor from others sites. You do realize all of us will be stalking you guys with September challenge before us. All of you alternatives amaze me.

  22. That’s disappointing that these didn’t turn out as well as you’d hoped but you’re right, they do look good. And more importantly, it’s so awesome that you’re always experimenting and willing to take baking risks!

  23. LOVE the plate! it’s just a bundle of awesome. sorry your eclairs didn’t turn out well. they look like they taste good and that counts for something!

  24. I think you are being too hard on yourself! Of course, it is not a failure by any means! The Eclairs look awesome. I wish I were half as successful as you were :)

  25. Hi Hannah,
    Despite your reservations, these do look so delicious! I hope that your experiments with vegan choux pastry will be fruitful.

  26. So glad to find someone else who was less than pleased with the results of this recipe.

    I had read so many superlatives about it that I was finally persuaded to try it myself last night.

    Ycccck. Talk about avoidance therapy. I think I have been permanently turned off to anything even resembling eclairs.

    While the recipe was well mapped out and easy to follow and the eclairs “looked” good all puffed up and all, they tasted awful. Very eggy and unpleasant.

    I filled them with Herme’s recipe for pastry cream. This cream tasted pretty good while still warm and when the portion was only what could be fit on the end of a fingertip. So good that I thought it would successfully mask the flavor of the puffs.

    So I spooned out some extra generous gollops into the shells after the pastry cream had been chilled and proceeded to dig in enthusiastically. But it was awful.

    Something had happened in the chilling and the taste of flour in the pastry cream was really prevalent and off-putting.

    So disgusting I am going to just toss the whole mess.

    Maybe it was something I did wrong although I thought I followed the recipes carefully. I don’t know.

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