A while back, I made eclairs using the Cordon Rose Choux Pastry recipe from PPB. I followed the recipe, including allowing the eclairs to dry out in the oven for an hour-and-a-half, and removing extra dough from the interior before filling them with pastry cream. A professional food judge evaluated my eclair, and told me that it was too dry inside. She said there should be “webbing” inside, not total crispness.
This spooked me enough that I haven’t tried making choux again, until today. I made cream puffs, and I let them dry out for less than an hour in the oven. The outside was golden and crisp, the interiors were still moist and webbed, and I filled them with chocolate pastry cream. They tasted excellent to me and my family, and every last cream puff was gone by bedtime.
Here is my question: What is the optimal dryness for eclair and cream puff shells? Was the professional food judge correct, or is the degree of dryness and interior crispness only a matter of personal taste? It seems to me that homemade, freshly filled choux is going to be superior to any commercial product, no matter how moist or dry the interior, because it will have been sitting around for less time, and therefore, is less prone to becoming soggy from the filling. Perhaps letting the choux get really dry is a good idea, since the moist filling will re-moisturize the shell.
I welcome any thoughts and opinions on what constitutes the perfect cream puff and/or eclair.