A simple choux pastry has been shaped into eclairs and dressed up with espresso cream and praline. Photo: Marina Oliphant
The three recipes used to make these eclairs are versions of dessert fundamentals: choux pastry, praline and pastry cream. Once you have the knack of these, you can play with different flavour combinations and applications.
You can pipe the pastry out as suggested to make a classic eclair shape or use a star nozzle in your piping bag for a different look. Alternatively, you could spoon mounds onto your baking tray to make profiteroles, dip in chocolate, sprinkle with praline and then pipe the espresso cream inside.
1 tsp castor sugar
1 pinch salt
120g plain flour
3 large eggs, whisked
200g dark chocolate, to serve
1. Preheat the oven to 220C, fan-forced.
2. In a small saucepan bring the milk, butter, sugar, salt and 100 millilitres of water to a simmer. Tip the flour in and stir with a wooden spoon over medium heat for three to five minutes; it will start to pull away from the sides of the pan and form a ball, but keep beating it around to cook out the flour. Take off the heat and leave to cool for a couple of minutes.
3. Slowly beat in the eggs, making sure each addition is incorporated before adding the next. Then add the mix to a stand mixer with a K-beater attached and mix until the dough is smooth and silky.
4. Spoon the mix into a piping bag with a plain nozzle and pipe into lines on a lined baking tray, leaving three-centimetre spaces between each line. Wet your fingers and flick water over the tray — the steam will aid rising. Bake for 12 minutes until puffed and golden, reduce the heat to 180C fan-forced and cook for a further five minutes. Allow to cool.
5. Melt the chocolate in a bowl sitting on top of a saucepan with an inch or so of barely simmering water. Dip the eclairs in the chocolate, sprinkle with praline and allow to set.
6. Slice the eclairs open and fill with the espresso cream and serve.
Drink Earl Grey tea
This custard will thicken and set once it is fully chilled, making it perfect for spreading on the eclairs. For the impatient, dipping the cooked choux in the espresso cream is almost as good.
180ml cream 45 per cent fat
180ml cream 35 per cent fat
30ml strong espresso coffee
6 large egg yolks
2 tbsp cornflour
80g castor sugar
1. Bring creams to a simmer in a saucepan then add espresso, stir and take off heat.
2. Whisk egg, cornflour and sugar together until pale, then gradually whisk in cream.
3. Return to the stove over a medium heat and cook, stirring constantly, until thickened. Take off heat and cool, then cover with cling film, laying it directly on top of the custard to stop a skin forming. Chill in the fridge.
Praline is a great way to dress up dessert, but even a simple scoop of vanilla ice-cream with a good sprinkling of crunchy praline is not so simple any more.
300g castor sugar
2 tbsp coffee beans
1. Preheat oven to 180C fan-forced or 200C conventional.
2. Spread the walnuts on a baking tray and roast for five minutes, then wrap in a tea towel and rub off the skins and chop roughly.
3. Add the sugar to a small pot and cook to a medium-coloured caramel, shaking the pan regularly to cook evenly. Meanwhile, warm the walnuts and coffee beans on a baking tray for one minute and add to the caramel, stirring to evenly coat the nuts. Tip the hot caramel onto baking paper and allow to cool.
4. Crush the praline in a mortar and pestle. Store in an airtight container.