I’m writing the first official post for this blog on the first day of spring and it feels like perfect timing to start something new. For the first day of a change in seasons, the weather has certainly risen to the occasion. When I woke up this morning I was surprised to feel something I haven’t felt in a long, long time - warm! Don’t get me wrong, I love winter. I think it’s the most romantic season of the year and the perfect time to stay inside all day to cook braised meats and then drink lots of red wine at night with your friends, or maybe a date. Today however I was so excited to put on a flowing floral outfit, get on my bike and ride around in the sunshine. I’m looking forward to drinking beers with friends, going on picnics, sparkling wine and dinner parties under the stars.
Lately I’ve been cooking a lot of éclairs. They’re something I haven’t really made since leaving culinary school as not many places I’ve worked at have sold them. In the last few weeks however I kept seeing beautiful pictures of pastel-coloured, gazed éclairs with candied nuts and fruits on top. I got so inspired by how pretty they were that I made a batch. When I mentioned this to my boyfriend he was wild with enthusiasm as apparently they are one of his favourite treats. Every time I get a chance now I’ve been playing around with different flavour combinations and packing up little boxes of these pretty treats and dropping them off at his house.
This week I thought I should make something to go with this lovely sunny weather, so I’ve made some strawberry custard filled éclairs with fresh berries on top. They really aren’t too hard to make, but there are a few little tips and tricks to help you out along the way. Hope you enjoy them and the sunshine!
Spring Berry Éclairs
- 75g milk
- 75g water
- 75g butter
- 5g salt
- 10g sugar
- 100g plain flour
- 150g eggs (it's best to weigh them for an exact measurement, but this is about three eggs)
- In a small pot place the milk, water, butter, salt and sugar.
- Bring to the boil.
- As soon as the mix has boiled take it off the heat and add the flour. Stir vigorously.
- Once a dough has formed, return to the heat and continue to cook on medium heat for about two minutes.
A skin may form on the bottom of the pot but don’t panic - this is a good sign!
- Remove the dough from the pot and place it in a KitchenAid with a paddle attachment.
If you don’t have one of these, a hand held electric beater is fine.
- Mix on a low speed for several minutes until steam stops rising from the bowl.
- Hand-whisk the eggs until combined and then slowly add them to the mix.
- Continue mixing for another minute.
- Scrape dough into a piping bag with star nozzle. A piping nozzle with a lot of teeth is best for this job as it helps prevents the éclair from cracking into an ugly shape.
- Pipe the dough in 8 or 9 logs.
- Bake at 180 degrees for forty minutes. If they look as though they are getting too brown towards the end reduce the oven to 160.
- As soon as you take the éclairs from the oven cut a few little holes into the bottom of them. This lets the steam escape and stops them from going soft. These holes can also be used later to fill the éclairs with the custard.
- 2 cups of cream
- 1 vanilla bean
- ¼ cup of caster sugar
- 4 egg yolks
- 1tsp of plain flour
- 1tsp of corn flour
- 5 strawberries
- Scrape the vanilla bean into the cream and add the pod. Bring to the boil.
- Remove the cream from the heat and set aside.
- Whisk together the yolks, sugar and both flours.
- Slowly add the hot cream, a little at a time, whisking between additions.
- Strain and then pour the mix into a clean pot and return to medium heat.
- Cook while constantly stirring until the mix starts to bubble.
- Remove from the heat, pour into a bowl and cover with cling wrap.
- Chill the custard in the fridge until cold and set.
- Finely cut the strawberries and stir through the custard.
Glaze, Garnish and fill
- 250g dark chocolate
- 50 ml vegetable oil
- Mixed berries
- Melt chocolate in the microwave and stir until smooth.
- Mix though the oil.
- Fill a piping bag with the custard. Poke nozzle into the hole in the base of the éclair and fill.
- Place the chocolate glaze is a bowl and dip the top of the filled éclair in and move it around a little to ensure all the top is covered. Remove from the glaze and remove any excess with your finger.
- While the glaze is still wet, arrange the berries on top so that they stick.
- Let the éclairs set and then feast.