Vanilla, Strawberry & Caramel Eclairs

Ok, so this post is going to be a little light in the photo department. Mainly because my family ate a lot of them before I could get a decent picture of the finished product, all I've got is this 'in progress' photo of the eclairs at their shell stage and just after they'd been covered in chocolate (before it had set)!

Vanilla Strawberry & Caramel Eclairs

Step One: Choux Pastry

Choux Pastry Ingredients

250ml Water
100g Unsalted Butter (cubed)
140g Plain Flour
4 Medium Eggs (beaten)

Choux Pastry Method

1. Preheat the oven to 200˚C (180˚C if fan oven, Gas Mark 6) and line two baking trays with foil backed baking parchment.

2. Place the water and the cubes of unsalted butter into a non-stick saucepan over a medium heat. Stir until all of the butter has melted then increase the heat and bring to the boil.

3. Once boiling, immediately add the plain flour to the saucepan and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon, until the mixture comes together to form a paste and all of the flour is incorporated.

4. Take the saucepan off of the heat and stir for another 3 minutes, this should result in a relatively smooth paste like mixture.

5. Add the beaten eggs a spoonful at a time. Stir well with a wooden spoon between additions. When you add each spoonful of egg, the mixture will appear to separate, keep stirring until it has come back together again before adding another spoonful of the egg. The paste should become softer with each addition.

6. Fill a piping bag, fitted with a 1cm circular nozzle, with the choux paste and pipe 12 (6 on each tray), 15cm lines. Ensure the lines are spaced apart to allow the choux to rise.

7. Place in the oven to cook for 25-35 minutes, until the choux shells are golden and well risen.

8. Remove the trays from the oven. Holding the choux shells with a paper towel, use a small knife to make three small holes  - one at each end and one on the underside of the shell somewhere near the middle. This allows the air to escape and creates points where the cream filling can be added.

9. Leave the shells to cool on a wire rack.

Step Two: Cream Filling

Strawberry Cream Ingredients (Fills 4 Eclairs)

250ml Double Cream
1tbsp Caster Sugar
0.25ml (5 drops) Strawberry Flavouring
3 drops Red Food Colouring (optional)

Caramel Cream Ingredients (Fills 4 Eclairs)

250ml Double Cream
1tbsp Caster Sugar
0.25ml (5 drops) Caramel Flavouring
3 drops Yellow Food Colouring (optional)

Vanilla Cream Ingredients (Fills 4 Eclairs)

250ml Double Cream
1tbsp Caster Sugar

All flavouring amounts are based on using these products: Strawberry, Caramel & Vanilla - basically because they're what I had in my cupboard.
These amounts can be scaled up or down depending on the amount of eclairs you want of each flavour. For example, if I wanted 12 caramel eclairs I would use 750ml double cream, 3 tbsp caster sugar, then go by taste (or bottle instructions) & colour for the caramel flavouring & yellow colouring. 
Obviously, if you're using multiple flavours of cream you need to follow the method separately for each type of cream!

Cream Filling Method

1. Place the double cream, caster sugar & flavouring (and, if using, the colouring) in a bowl and whip with a hand held mixer until soft peaks have formed.

2. Put the cream in a piping bag fitted with a small nozzle (I tend to use a flat one at it fits in the holes in the shells better).

3. Fill the eclair shells with the cream. Start at the middle hole on the underside, then top up at the ends if needed.

Step Three: Chocolate Topping

Chocolate Topping Ingredients

200g Milk Chocolate (broken into pieces)

Chocolate Topping Method

1. Melt the chocolate in a bowl placed over a saucepan of boiling water. Ensure that the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. Stir the chocolate pieces with a wooden spoon until they are fully melted.

2. Remove the saucepan & bowl from the heat.

3. Cover the top of the eclairs with the melted chocolate. Either spread the chocolate on the tops using a knife or dip one side of the eclairs into the chocolate.

4. Place the eclairs in a fridge to allow the chocolate to set.

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