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Salted Caramel Eclairs

Salted Caramel Eclairs

I was lucky enough to receive book called “Secrets of Eclairs” by Marianne Magnier-Moreno from my sister and have been thinking it was about time I started learning to make eclairs. She also gave me a jar of Laduree Salted Caramel sauce (I don’t know what I’ve done to deserve all these goodies!). I’ve never had a sweet tooth but the sauce was heavenly! What better way to put these two to use than by making Salted Caramel eclairs?

There are a few tricks to making the choux pastry – the ones that stand out for me (1) dry the choux pastry out (called panade) after adding the flour (2) know when to stop adding the egg to ensure pipeable consistency (3) never open the oven door while baking and (4) ensure the pastry has dried out completely before removing from the oven (I know – how can you ensure the pastry is dry when you can’t open the oven door?!?).

Let me tell you now, the recipe is not complicated to make but it does take some time so allocate half a day to make these or alternatively, you can make the choux pastry (store in an airtight container at room temperature if not using immediately) and the creme patisserie ahead of time and then assemble right before serving. Believe me, the effort is worth it!

Salted Caramel Eclairs

For the Choux Pastry (Makes about 18 to 20 pieces)

  • 125 ml milk
  • 125 ml water
  • pinch of salt
  • 10 grams sugar
  • 100 grams butter
  • 150 grams flour, sifted
  • 4 eggs, beaten (around 200 grams)
  1. Place the milk, water, salt, sugar and butter in a saucepan and heat until the butter has melted.
  2. Remove the pan from the heat and add the flour all at once. Stir the flour off the heat for a minute and then place the mixture back on the heat to dry out the pastry for around 5 minutes. Make sure to stir the choux mixture vigorously, over a medium heat.
  3. Remove the choux mixture from the pan and tip it in to a stand mixer. Using the paddle attachment, beat this mixture over a medium speed and gradually add the beaten eggs, a quarter at a time and make sure the egg is fully incorporated before adding more.
  4. When you’ve added around 3/4 of the egg mixture in, check whether the batter is ready. To do this, scoop some of the batter on to a spatula. If the mixture adheres to the spatula and then falls off, it’s just right. If it does not stick to the spatula, it’s too dry, add the egg mixture a little bit at a time until you get the right consistency. The idea is that if you pipe the mixture, it can hold it’s shape. (The first time I did this, I added all eggs in, and the mixture was too runny, the eclairs didn’t rise)
  5. Pre-heat the oven to 180 c
  6. Place the choux pastry in a piping bag fitted with a star nozzle that is 1.5cm thick and put in the refrigerator to allow to cool slightly.
  7. In the meantime, get some baking paper and you’re ready to create guides which will help you as you pipe the mixture. Using a ruler and a marker, draw rectangles that are 10 cm long and 2.5 cm wide, spaced around 4 cm apart. Place another sheet of baking paper over the guide.
  8. Take the mixture from the refrigerator and carefully pipe on to the baking paper, using the marked baking paper as a guide.
  9. Lightly spray some water over the piped choux pastry and place in the oven. Bake for 20 minutes and then lower the heat to 150 and bake another 20 minutes. Once done, turn off the oven and leave the pastry in, another 5 minutes. (Never open the oven door while baking the eclairs as this will cause it to deflate) Remove the pastry from the oven.
  10. When the pastry has cooled, use a serrated knife to cut along the tops of the pastry and fill with the creme patisserie (recipe below)

Creme Patisserie

  • 300 ml milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 100 grams sugar
  • 90 grams cornstarch
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 80 ml milk
  • 100 grams butter
  • 500 to 600 ml thickened cream
  • Salted Caramel sauce to finish the eclairs
  1. Heat the 300 ml of milk over a low heat. Add the vanilla.
  2. In a bowl, combine the sugar, cornstarch and egg yolk. Mix thoroughly then add the 80 ml of milk. Add this mixture to the 300 ml of milk and allow to thicken, using a whisk to stir the mixture. When the mixture has boiled, quickly take it out of the heat and place in a stand mixer. Allow the mixture to cool around 5 minutes. Using a whisk attachment, gradually add the butter until it is fully incorporated. Place the custard in a bowl and cover with clingfilm. Place in the refrigerator for around an hour.
  3. When the custard has cooled, take it out of the refrigerator and give it a good mix to loosen it slightly. Weigh the custard mixture. Let’s say the mixture weighs around 550 grams, take the same amount of cream and whisk it using a stand attachment to stiff peaks. Before adding the cream, add around 50 grams of the salted caramel sauce to the custard. Then, add 1/3 of the cream to the custard until well combined then carefully fold in the rest of the cream to lighten the mixture.
  4. Place the creme patisserie on to a piping bag fitted with a very small round tipped nozzle (about 6mm). Make three holes on the bottom of the eclair and pipe the cream patisserie filling.
  5. To finish the eclairs, spread some salted caramel over the eclairs and top with some sea salt flakes. Salted Caramel sauce can be bought or otherwise, you can use the recipe here (just skip step 7).

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Salted Caramels

Salted Caramels

I admit that I have an unhealthy obsession with cookbooks and food magazines.  One of my favourite magazines is one published in the Philippines called Yummy.  I’ve been a long time reader and used to always ask my Mom to buy them and bring me copies when she would visit.  I was thrilled when last year I found out they were also on Zinio which meant I could read them as soon as they were published online.

Imagine my excitement when Liz, one of their assistant editors, asked if I would be interested to be featured as a guest chef – uhm… hello?!?  Of course I would be honoured!

So here it is – MY very own feature on Yummy Magazine.   If you are lucky, you may still be able to buy the March 2012 issue where this is published, but better be quick because the Blog Monster seems to be hunting down every copy she can get her hands on!  (It’s nice to have a Mom who is so proud of you isn’t it?)

Trissalicious on Yummy Magazine
Yummy Magazine Page 2
So here’s a sweet way to begin the week – below is a recipe for Rockpool’s Salted Caramels.  The restaurant is famous for them and the recipe is taken from Neil Perry’s latest Cookbook, Rockpool Bar & Grill and is from pastry chef Catherine Adams.  Make sure to use a digital thermometer when making these sweets, the recipe is not hard to make at all, but it’s important to be exact with the temperatures, otherwise, you could end up with caramels that don’t set, or those that are too hard.

Have a great week ahead!

Rockpool’s Salted Caramels

  • 500 grams caster sugar
  • 250 grams liquid glucose
  • 435 grams pouring cream (35% fat)
  • 125 grams butter (I used Lurpak), cut into cubes
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla paste
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt flakes, such as Murray River Pink sea salt
  1. Grease a 22cm square cake tin with cooking spray and line with aluminium foil. Spray again.
  2. In a large pot, combine the sugar, glucose and cream. Stir gently and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium and cook gently until the mixture reaches a temperature of 113c. (It took me approximately 15 minutes to reach that heat).
  3. Using a whisk, add the butter and continue to mix until the butter has dissolved into the mixture. From here on, do not stir. Let the temperature reach 119c and remove the mixture from the heat. Stir in the vanilla paste. Pour the mixture on to the greased pan. Quickly scatter the sea salt on top of the caramel.
  4. Allow the caramel to rest and cool. This should take around 2 to 3 hours.
  5. Once the caramel has cooled, remove it from the tin, remove the foil and cut into 1.5 cm strips. Then cut each strip into 2 cm pieces. Wrap in cellophane (or baking paper) and store in an air tight container in a cool dry place for up to 5 days.
Salted Caramels

Salted Caramels

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Macaron lollipops

Macaron lollipops

I realized that I have been blogging for a year and a half now.  Wow.  That’s lasted longer than most relationships nowadays – I feel like you should know me really well by now, after all, I’ve always considered my life to be an open book blog.

But do you really?  I guess, there comes a point in all relationships where you THINK you know a person and then they throw you a curveball.

Well, this is mine:  I don’t like eating macarons. I find them too sweet.

I know, it’s crazy, especially with the number of times I’ve made them on my blog.   Even at Pierre Herme or Laduree, my husband will order a box (his line is “one of each flavour please!”) and I’ll feel obliged to try them since we’re supposed to be in macaron mecca – but in most cases, I’ll only have half a compulsory bite if ever.  I have come to realize that my fascination with them was really borne out of the frustration of not being able to make them properly the first three or so years after learning about them.

Macaron lollipops

Macaron lollipops

Last week however I was inspired to make some macarons for myself after reading Ellie’s post on her Ret Hot Devil mac pops.  But this time, I decided to go with a more savoury/sweet approach.  You see, I love salt.  You know how some restaurants serve salt in little bowls?  My husband has to stop me from picking at it because I can eat salt on its own.  So I made two lots of macarons, first a chocolate macaron which I sprinkled with some pink salt flakes and made a ganache of chocolate, olive oil and more sea salt.  I managed to have two macarons from this batch.  The first one was me trying to figure out whether the olive oil flavour was strong enough to come through (it was) and the second one was to savour the hint of salt flakes from the shell and the ganache.

The second batch of macarons was a Masterchef winner.  Really… it was.  Our work sponsored a Masterchef Dessert competition as part of the Crave Sydney International Food Festival (of which we were a major sponsor) and I piped up a batch of these Salted Caramel Macarons that won me not only a dinner for two at the Young Chef’s Dinner, but also a signed copy from Joanna Savill of the Good Food Guide!

I’m sharing both recipes here in case you’d like to try them yourself.  Macaron recipe can be found here (for French method, the ganache is good for half a batch of these macarons) or here (for Italian Method).

Macaron lollipops

Macaron lollipops

Salted Caramel Macarons

Makes enough for one batch of macarons

  • 160 grams caster sugar
  • 130 grams cream
  • 150 grams butter, diced (best quality you can afford – I used Lurpak brand)
  • 7 grams sea salt (I used pink Murray river salt)
  1. Heat sugar in a pot, making sure to constantly stir so that it browns evenly.
  2. In another sauce pan, warm the cream until the cream bubbles along the sides of the pot.
  3. Once the sugar turns a deep brown, immediately add the warmed cream. Be careful not to burn yourself as the cream and sugar will create a lot of steam – it’s preferable to use a long wooden spoon to stir.
  4. If you notice that some sugar has hardened, heat the mixture gently until the sugar dissolved. Continue to stir the sugar and cream mixture off the heat to allow it to cool, you can even place it in another container to speed up the process.
  5. Once the mixture has cooled to around 50c, add the diced butter with a whisk, a little at a time until fully incorporated.
  6. If you haven’t already, transfer the mixture to a bowl and cover with cling wrap and allow to cool in the refrigerator for around 2 to 3 hours.
  7. Once the mixture has cooled, add the salt and emulsify the mixture using either a food processor, stand mixer, hand held mixer or thermomix until the mixture changes colour to a dark beige shade. This is now ready for piping.
Chocolate, Olive Oil and Sea salt Macaron Pops

Chocolate, Olive Oil and Sea salt Macaron Pops

Chocolate, Olive Oil and Sea Salt Ganache

Makes enough for one batch of macarons

  • 150 grams dark chocolate, 50% cocoa (I used Lindt)
  • 120 grams cream
  • 30 grams olive oil
  • 7 grams sea salt
  1. Chop the chocolate into little pieces and place them in a bowl. Heat the cream until it is almost boiling in a saucepan (the cream at the sides of the pan will start to bubble) and pour this onto the chocolate.
  2. Allow the chocolate and cream mixture to rest for a minute and then start to stir the chocolate, starting from the middle of the bowl – outwards, until the chocolate is fully incorporated.
  3. Add the olive oil and sea salt and allow to cool. Cover with a cling wrap and allow to harden in the refrigerator before use.

On a side note,  have I told you how much I love Melbourne?  I’m in Melbourne this week for a number of courses at Savour School.  I’m absolutely amazed at the dedication and passion of my classmates.  Many of them are working in professional kitchens or are running (or about to start) their own businesses.  It’s both humbling and inspiring to see them in action and I’ll surely share with you my experiences in the coming posts.

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