Happy Spring everyone! I don’t remember a Spring season I have looked forward to more than this one. Maybe it’s because of how harsh this winter was? Anyway, I am very happy for no more heavy coats and double (or triple!) layers just to stay warm. These 60 degree days are so nice and so welcome! Well, I have a sweet treat for you and very simple as long as you have the right tools.
These Salted Caramel Eclairs are a nod to one of my favorite movie, Simply Irresistible. Yes, that campy movie with Sarah Michelle Geller and Sean Patrick Flannery. In it, once she “fell in love” with Sean’s character, she was able to make glorious foods, these being one of them. No, they will not make a man make out with you in an elevator or suddenly start a choreographed dance number with your honey but they are simply yummy! I think it’s the salty-sweetness from the caramel. I’m just saying.
I made them for my Grandmom’s birthday party. She can’t have chocolate so I’ve had to be creative to find her treats that she can have. I got a “yum!” followed by two more being immediately consumed so that’s a stamp of approval if there ever was one. Here they are being presented with some french macarons (recipe to come!)
A little time intensive but it you do parts at a time, it really isn’t that bad. You can bake these up and make the filling a couple days before you need them, then just fill, dip and serve. Just make sure you don’t eat the filling while it’s cooling (such a challenge for me! Yum!) You definitely have to have a large round pastry bag tip to make these. See how nicely they look! The injector tip helps so much but you could simply cut them in half and sandwich the cream inside like some cream puff recipes call for.
Here they are all toasty from the oven. I made both the 3″ and 2″ to simply to make more knowing there usually is a big crowd at my Grandmom’s birthday parties. Plus, I love bite-sized treats. It means you can have more than one and still not feel guilty. But be warned…..this is definitely not diet friendly!
When dipping your filled eclairs into the caramel, make sure the caramel is warm enough to glide off in a pretty ribbon. When it starts to hold on to the eclairs too tightly, you’ll need to warm it for 5 seconds or so in the microwave or stove top until it loosen up. Also, dip these guys no earlier than 3 hours before you serve and don’t refrigerate longer than an hour or the caramel will melt off. I haven’t tried freezing immediately after dipping, that may be best for longer storage.
I hope you give these little guys a try. Definitely easier than I once assumed.
Mini Caramel Eclairs
Makes 12 – 3 inch or 16 2 inch Eclairs
Adapted from http://sweetapolita.com/2012/04/pink-eclairs/
Vanilla Bean Pastry Cream
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 3 tbsp cornstarch
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 5 egg yolks
- 1 cup milk (I used skim)
- 1 cup half and half
- 2 tsp vanilla bean paste or the scrapings of two vanilla beans
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter
In a bowl, combine the sugar, cornstarch and salt. Whisk in the egg yolks one at a time until well incorporated. In a medium sauce pan, warm the milk and half and half over a medium heat until it comes to a simmer. Temper the egg mixture with half of the milk mixture, whisking while adding the warmed milk. Pour the warmed egg mixture back into the pan and cook over medium heat until mixture becomes thick. Whisk in vanilla bean paste and butter. Pour mixture back into bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let cool completely (about 3 hours or overnight).
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp salt
Place sugar, water and lemon juice in a small sauce pan on medium heat. Have a pastry brush handy to brush down any sugar crystals clinging to the sides of the pot. Make sure all sugar is wet prior to sugar starting to melt. Do not stir. Swirl gently if necessary once sugar is melting. Let boil until the bubbles are shiny and turn golden brown. Take off of heat and slowly stir in the heavy cream with a whisk. It may foam up, keep stirring. It will become thicker as it cools. Whisk in vanilla and salt. Let cool while preparing the dough.
Pate a Choux
- 3/4 cup water
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup flour
- 3 eggs
In a medium sauce pan, combine water, butter, sugar and salt and heat over a medium flame. Stir the mixture until it comes to a boil, then stir in flour. Keep stirring until the dough comes together and starts to pull away from the sides of the pan. Continue to stir for an additional 2 minutes. At this time, transfer dough to a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and beat on medium speed for about 3 minutes (until the dough stops steaming and cools slightly). Add the eggs one at a time, scrapping the bowl as needed. Spoon batter into a pastry bag fitted with a round tip (I used Wilton Round Tip #1a). Pipe 12 – 3 inch or 16 – 2 inch straight lines spaced about 2 inches apart onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes at 450 deg F until they are a light golden brown the reduce the temperature to 350 deg F and bake until the eclairs look dry, about an additional 10-15 minutes. Let cool on pan completely. When eclairs are cool, use a small skewer to poke a hole at one end and move it around on the inside a little but to make room for the filing.
Spoon filing into another pastry bag fitted with a #230 tip (a very long and thin tip for filling pastries). Fill eclairs with cream. Grab your caramel and check the fluidity of it. If it is too thick, warm in microwave in 10 second intervals until it is like a shampoo consistency. Dip top of eclair into caramel. Place back onto baking sheets until caramel sets. Serve and enjoy!
Trial and Error Tips:
Eat these guys within a few hours of putting the caramel on. If they sit in the fridge longer than that, the caramel melts off. My suggestion is to store the eclairs filled in the fridge and dip them in the caramel right before serving.