Simply Irresistible Caramel Eclairs
Caramel Pastry Crème:
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 tsp Salt
2 1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 Vanilla Bean scraped
4 egg yolks
3 TB Corn Starch
1 Cup Heavy Cream
(optional) 1/4 oz Gelatin
(optional) 2 TB Warm Water
1 cup Water
8 TB Unsalted Butter
Pinch of Salt
1 Cup Flour
1/2 tsp ground Ginger
3-4 large Eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup heavy cream
3 TB butter
Pinch of salt (I used grey salt, don’t know why, just did)
Zest of 1 lemon
1/4 tsp Coriander
CARAMEL PASTRY CREME: (Slightly Cheating) – Technically Pastry Crème doesn’t have gelatin in it… That actually makes it a mousse.
Place a large skillet over medium-high flame and add the sugar. (Please do not use Teflon pans, you will not be able to see the color of the sugar.
As the sugar begins to melt, tilt the skillet back and forth very gently to move the liquefying sugar around, this will keep the coloring even.
Once the sugar is fairly uniformly dark amber (about 10 minutes), remove skillet from heat and pour onto a foil lined 13x9 jelly roll pan and allow to cool to room temperature (about 15 minutes).
Combine milk, salt, vanilla seeds and the pod in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
Break caramel into smaller pieces and whirl it up in the food processor or blender, into a powder.
Pour onto a sheet of foil (about 12 by 18 in.) and let cool to room temperature, about 20 minutes.
Peel off foil and break caramel into chunks; put in a food processor or blender and whirl into a fine powder.
As the milk heats up, add small amounts of the caramel powder and stir until melted and smooth.
Do not let the milk boil, just keep it warm and continue adding the caramel powder and stirring until all melted and smooth.
Beat egg yolks and cornstarch together until egg yolks are thick and lemon in color.
Condition yolks with a couple ladles of hot milk/caramel mixture.
Once warm add the eggs to the saucepan and whisk until thickened.
Remove from heat and pour through a fine mesh strainer to ensure there are no lumps in the custard.
Cover on the surface with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator up to 2 days.
When ready to use, whip heavy cream in a chilled bowl until stiff peaks.
Run a whisk through the pastry crème to loosen.
Fold whipped cream into pastry crème.
Check for stiffness, if pastry crème seems a little loose, cover and return to the refrigerator.
Bloom 1/4 oz Gelatin in a ramekin with 2 TB warm water for 10 minutes
Place ramekin in a small saucepan with a little water over low heat.
Once gelatin has become clear, remove from water bath and let cool slightly.
Remove pastry crème from refrigerator and begin whisking gently to check thickness.
Place bowl of pastry crème in an ice bath (to speed things up) or simply pour in the warm gelatin and whisk until it begins to stiffen.
If you are not using an ice bath cover the crème and return to refrigerator for 20 minutes.
CHOUX PASTE: (eclairs)
Bring Water, butter and salt to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium flame.
Once water reaches a boil, add flour and stir quickly until the dough ball starts to pull away from the sides of the pan.
Continue to cook for 1 – 2 minutes to assure that the dough is sufficiently cooked.
Remove from heat and let rest for about 10 minutes to cool slightly.
Begin preheating the oven to 400
Once cool, add the first egg and stir briskly with a rubber spatula or “spoonula”. (You can do this with an electric mixer and paddle attachment, and normally I love my appliances, but honestly, I am convinced this works better when done by hand)
The dough will fall apart and look really odd, but with continued stirring it will rebind into a solid mass again.
Repeat this with each of the other 3 eggs.
After the addition of the last egg, you should notice that the dough has become a smooth and slightly sticky paste.
Fit a large piping bag with a large round tip (I use and 806, although I think it would be fine to not use a tip at all), fill the bag with the choux paste.
Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and pipe 3 inch long strips of paste at least 2 inches apart.
Place in a 400 degree oven for 15 minutes.
Reduce heat to 350 and bake for another 10 minutes
Remove pans from oven and with hand protection, poke a whole in the end of each éclair.
Move pan back to oven for an additional 10 minutes to ensure the insides are dried out.
Move éclairs to a cooling rack.
Melt Sugar in a tall sided sauce pan over medium flame.
When liquid and dark amber in color, carefully pour in the heavy cream… Careful, it will bubble up, the sugar is at 350 degrees so the water in the heavy cream will superheat and boil almost immediately.
Stir with a whisk over low until smooth then add the salt, butter and stir until melted.
Lastly remove from heat and stir in the lemon zest and the coriander.
This will keep as well covered and stored in the refrigerator.
DO NOT dip éclairs until just before serving or they will get soggy. I learned this the hard way.
If you prepared the caramel topping ahead of time, re-warm over low heat.
Dip the tops of warm éclairs into the caramel sauce and set on a rack to drip and cool.
Please be careful, this sauce is still VERY hot and it IS candy so it will stick to your skin while it’s burning.
Prepare a pastry bag with injection tip.
Fill 2/3 full with pastry crème.
Poke the tip through the steam hole of your éclair and fill with the pastry crème.
Eclairs will be fine if covered and placed in the refrigerator for 2 hours, any longer and you risk sogginess.
It is preferable to serve immediately.
If you are feeling particularly fancy, you may prepare more caramel with 1/4 – 1/2 cup sugar.
After cooled to room temp, process in the blender of food processor again and sprinkle the granules over the top of the glaze right before serving for a little crunch.
Pairs Well With
This was my recipe from BakeSpace Challenge #2 "Movie Recipe". Into everyone's life, an Eclair eventually falls. I just prefer mine without Chocolate. LOL I have been obsessed with the Eclairs from "Simply Irresistible" ever since I saw the movie. So I finally sat down and tried to figure out how to make a good caramel pastry creme. The rest was simple enough, since Eclairs are made out of Choux paste, just like cream puffs and gougeres.
Step by step pics are available at the link below