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)
- Place the milk, water, salt, sugar and butter in a saucepan and heat until the butter has melted.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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)
- Pre-heat the oven to 180 c
- 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.
- 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.
- Take the mixture from the refrigerator and carefully pipe on to the baking paper, using the marked baking paper as a guide.
- 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.
- 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)
- 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
- Heat the 300 ml of milk over a low heat. Add the vanilla.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).