miniature salted caramel eclairs

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I wanted to change things up for Valentine’s Day this year.  Ever since high school, I would make conversation heart sugar cookies for my friends and various sweethearts over the years.  Then, more recently, I started making red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting.  But this year calls for something different – something even more decadent – éclairs.  But not just ordinary éclairs – miniature, salted caramel-filled éclairs.  Not that regular éclairs with a vanilla bean filling need to be improved upon – it’s just that in my opinion, salted caramel makes everything better.  But that’s just me – the beauty of éclairs is that they are so open to interpretation {I love the idea of a nutella or peanut butter pastry cream filling}.

The outer, slightly crispy choux pastry is the perfect shell to encase the voluptuous, delicately flavoured caramel pastry cream inside.  A final glaze of dark chocolate and sprinkling of edible gold flakes transform this treat into a little treasure – with an éclair, the whole truly is greater than the sum of its parts.  The perfect, if slightly indulgent, way to say “be mine” to your favorite Valentine.

I normally don’t like to include pictures of myself in my posts, but had to feature the gorgeous, chevron print apron that my dear cousin Kristen made for me – you can find more of her beautiful creations here.

Recipe continued after the jump…

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Recipes

Note:  don’t be intimidated {like I used to be} by the thought of making choux pastry and pastry cream – it really couldn’t be easier – just make sure to have your mise en place ready to go beforehand because everything moves rather quickly.

Salted Caramel Pastry Cream

Makes 2 1/2 cups

  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 1/4 c. water
  • 2 c. whole milk
  • 1/4 c. cornstarch
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon fleur de sel or sea salt

Note: if you are going to make all of the éclairs in the recipe at once {instead of freezing half like I did}, double this recipe for the pastry cream.

Combine 1/2 c. sugar and the water in a medium, heavy saucepan.  Bring to a boil, brush down the sides of the pan with water, and boil for 8 to 10 minutes, or until carmelized.  The sugar will be fragrant and a deep amber color when it is carmelized.  Remove the pan from the heat and dip the bottom into an ice water bath for a second or two {I created an ice water bath in my sink}.  Slowly stir in the milk.  Return the pan to low heat and stir until smooth {the caramel may harden when the cold milk is added, but will slowly melt once the milk warms up}.  Increase the heat to medium and heat to a simmer.

Meanwhile, whisk together the cornstarch and 1/4 c. sugar in a medium bowl.  Whisk in the egg and egg yolks.  Continue whisking while adding the hot caramel mixture in a thin stream.  Transfer the mixture back to the saucepan and cook, whisking constantly, over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes, or until it thickens and just comes to a boil.  Immediately strain through a fine mesh sieve into a clean bowl and stir in the butter, vanilla and salt.  Press plastic wrap directly onto the surface and refrigerate.

Éclairs

Makes about 40 miniature éclairs

  • 1 c. water
  • 8 tablespoons {1 stick} unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 c. all-purpose flour
  • 4 eggs, plus 1 extra, if needed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons water
  • 1/2 c. heavy cream
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • Edible gold flake {if desired}

Preheat oven to 425°F.  Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.  In a large saucepan, bring the water, butter, salt and sugar to a rolling boil over medium-high heat.  When it boils, immediately take the pan off the heat.  Stirring with a wooden spoon, add all the flour at once and stir hard until all the flour is incorporated, about 60 seconds.  Return to heat and cook, stirring, 30 seconds.  Scrape the mixture into a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment {or use a hand mixer or your own brawn, if you are feeling up to it}.  Mix at medium speed.  With the mixer running, add 3 eggs, 1 egg at a time.  Stop mixing after each addition to scrape down the sides of the bowl.  Mix until the dough is smooth and glossy and the eggs are completely incorporated.  The dough should be thick, but should fall slowly and steadily from the beaters when you lift them out of the bowl.  If the dough is clinging to the beaters, add the remaining 1 egg and mix until incorporated {I needed to use the additional egg}.

Using a pastry bag fitted with a large, plain 1/2 inch tip, pipe 3 inch U-shaped {with both sides of the U touching – see picture} lengths of dough onto the lined baking sheet, leaving 2 inches of space between them.

In a bowl, whisk the egg and water together.  Brush the surface of each éclair with the egg wash.  Use your fingers to smooth out any bumps or points of dough that remain on the surface {I found it easiest to wet my fingers slightly}.  Bake 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 375°F and bake until puffed up and light golden brown, about 5 to 10 minutes more.  Try not to open the oven door too often during baking {I turned on the oven lights to keep watch}.  Let the éclairs cool slightly on the baking sheet.  While the éclairs are still warm, but cool enough to touch, make a hole at each end of the éclair using the point of a chopstick.  {At this point, the éclairs can be frozen – to crisp them up, bake in a 400°F oven for 5 to 7 minutes.}

Using a pastry bag fitted with a small-sized plan tip, gently pipe the custard into the éclairs, using only just enough to fill the inside {don’t over stuff them}.

In a small saucepan, heat the cream over medium heat just until it boils.  Immediately turn off the heat.  Put the chocolate in a medium bowl.  Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and whisk until melted and smooth.  Set aside and keep warm.

Dip the tops of the éclairs in the warm chocolate glaze and set on a sheet pan or a wire rack.  For a little added indulgence, sprinkle the éclairs with edible gold flake.  Chill, uncovered, at least 1 hour to set the glaze.  Serve chilled.

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34 Responses to miniature salted caramel eclairs

  1. auburnskull says:

    They look amazing I’ll have to give them a try

  2. Gorgeous, I love the caramel pastry cream, its been way too long since I have made choux. I love your recipe.

  3. My goodness these look delicious. I would love to make these to give to my other half for Valentine’s Day (his favourite pastry). Unfortunately, I am away from home for work 😦 Another time – maybe with some white chocolate and lavender eclairs to contrast – been meaning to try these for a while too. Thanks for another great idea!

    • fleurdeselsf says:

      Oooh! I love the idea of white chocolate and lavender – please let me know if you make them and how they turn out! Sorry that you won’t be with your love on Valentine’s Day. 😦 Maybe you can celebrate Valentine’s Day slightly early or late?

  4. Wow, these look amazing. I have been wanting to try eclairs for a long time as I love the regular ones but now I may have to do these instead.

  5. Oh yummy – they’re so pretty.

  6. Darya says:

    It’s nice to actually see you (and the lovely apron, I adore aprons and have quite a collection)! We don’t celebrate Saint-Valentine’s, but these éclairs look absolutely amazing. I am a bit scared of “choux pastry” because the only time I tried making “petits choux” they rose perfectly and then fell, but maybe I should give them a try with my recently-aquired oven… your caramel pastry cream (which I am NOT afraid of) sounds amazing!!!! And lovely photos, as always!

    • fleurdeselsf says:

      Thank you Darya! I think you should definitely give them another go. I used to be very intimidated too, but I think that if you try again, you will find it easy to get the hang of. Also, if you have a KitchenAid, it definitely makes life easier – my arms hurt after beating in each egg…

  7. You’re presentation looks great, like it belongs in a recipe book! Delicious looking eclairs too.

  8. I’m loving that apron of yours Lindsay and the eclaris even more! Gorgeous presentation! Very lovely.

  9. beautiful!! you and the eclairs. 🙂

  10. Beautiful photos — each one is divine 🙂

  11. Michelle says:

    “Salted caramel makes everything better.” Yes, indeed.

  12. smileycook says:

    This looks absolutely delectable! I love caramel! And the fact that you connected that to eclairs is sooo cool! I would love to try this recipe! You looked like you had a lot of fun making this 🙂

    • fleurdeselsf says:

      Thank you so much! I was trying to find a recipe for salted caramel eclairs, but there was nothing out there (or at least nothing I could find)! So I ended up improvising a bit, but love how they turned out. I did have a blast – having a glass of wine while cooking/baking makes it so much more enjoyable! 🙂 xo

  13. Karen says:

    What a delicious and decadent treat for Valentine’s Day. It is a good thing they are small because I think you would have to eat more than one.

  14. oh you and your mini eclaires are just beautiful…i would eat them all and have nothing to share…love that apron, just cute as a button on you…great recipe, will have to give these a try…lovely post..sarah

  15. petit4chocolatier says:

    This is absolutely over the top delicious! A beautiful Valentine treat!

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