With their flavored cream, coat of white chocolate painted on, drizzle of maple caramel and sprinkling of chipped almonds, these eclairs are bit on the flamboyant side. You could keep with tradition, and simply fill yours with whipped cream and dip the tops in dark or milk chocolate. They'd be just as tasty. I just couldn't resist jazzing these up a bit for a midweek treat! They'd also make a stunning dinner party dessert centerpiece.
Also, the best of my orange and star anise cream is a delicious orange and star anise syrup. So I'll be sharing that recipe with you as well. This is going to be a rather in depth recipe, but I promise, it's all easy to make!
For the orange & star anise cream
1tbsp icing sugar
500ml of double cream
1/2 cup of orange syrup with star anise
For the orange syrup with star anise
1 star anise
1 orange, sliced
200g caster sugar
For the eclairs
(can be doubled without trouble)
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup plain flour
a pinch of salt
100g white chocolate
1 cup My Secret Kitchen maple caramel sauce or other caramel
a handful of whole almonds or chipped almonds
For the orange syrup with star anise, Put the sugar and water in a sauce pan and allow to come to the boil before adding the star anise and orange slices to the pan. Reduce the heat to low and cook for about 25 minutes until the syrup is glossy. Allow to cool in the pan before decanting into a jar and refrigerating.
For the eclairs, preheat your oven to 220 C and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.
In a small saucepan, combine the water, butter and salt. Bring to a boil over a high heat.
Once it is boiling, immediately remove it from the heat and stir in the flour with a wooden spoon.
Continue to stir until mixture pulls away from the sides of the pan. This should take about 2 minutes. (It's a good arm workout!) Allow to cool for about 2 minutes.
Add the first egg to the pan along with the sugar. Adding the egg will cause the batter to separate and look weird. This is what you want. Stir the batter until it comes together and looks the way it did before you added the egg. This should take another 2 minutes.
Add the second egg. Again, the batter will separate and look weird. Don't panic; just stir. Stir the batter until it comes together yet again. Continue doing this if you double the recipe, ensuring that the batter comes together again before you add the next egg. It will get more difficult to stir with each added egg.
Once all the eggs have been added and the batter is thick and gathered together in the pan, spoon into a pastry bag and pipe onto the paper-lined trays. Pipe dollops for profiteroles and long sticks for eclairs.
Fill a small dish with a bit of water and, using your index finger, wet your finger and pat down any pointy tops from the piping.
Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 170C and bake until the eclairs are golden, firm on the bottom and hollow. It should take 20 to 30 minutes.
Allow the eclairs to cool while you get on with the cream.
For the orange and star anise cream, pour the double cream into a large, heavy-bottomed bowl. Using an electric whisk, beat the cream until it begins to thicken. Add the icing sugar and continue to beat, about 2 minutes.
Pour in the orange syrup that you prepared earlier and continue to beat until it comes together. Once together, allow to refrigerate for a few minutes before piping into the eclairs.
To fill the eclairs, make two or three holes in the bottom of each eclair and pipe until the feel the eclairs get heavier. Try to stop before the cream starts oozing out of the eclairs. There's no way of telling you when this is likely to happen, it's a judgement call.
To finish off the eclairs, melt the white chocolate gently over a pan of boiling water. Place the chocolate in a ceramic bowl that fits on top of a small saucepan. Add water to the sauce pan, but not so much that it will touch the bottom of the bowl when boiling. Allow the chocolate to melt on its own without interfering too much.
While it is melting, whizz the almonds in a food processor or chopper, if not using chopped almonds.
When the chocolate has melted, paint it onto the tops of the eclairs using a silicone brush. Once set, drizzle over the maple caramel sauce and sprinkle over the almonds.
Refrigerate over night (it really helps to marry all of the ingredients together and eclairs are traditionally served cold) and serve the following day... if you can wait that long. If you can't, just refrigerate for an hour or two.