These make wonderful desert canapés and look lovely piled up on a serving plate. They will disappear in minutes! They are also nice after Sunday lunch with friends if you make then into small blobs using a teaspoon rather than piping them. These look slightly rustic (no, I don’t mean messy) but suit the laid back style of Sunday lunch
Makes around 25 depending on the size of your eclairs
Preparation time: around 20 mins plus 20 mins cooking time
For the choux pastry
50g unsalted butter
1 tsp granulated sugar
65g strong white bread flour
2 eggs beaten
For the filling
300 ml double cream
1.5 tsp vanilla extract
1.5 tblsp icing sugar
For the salted caramel icing
75g soft dark brown sugar
25g unsalted butter
50g icing sugar (sifted)
Preheat your oven to 170C (fan) or 190C/Gas 5. Line 2 baking trays with parchment (or I like to use bake-n-glide as it is reusable and nothing sticks to it )
For the choux pastry, put the butter, sugar and 150ml of water into a saucepan. Heat until the butter and sugar dissolve and you have a smooth bubbling sauce. As soon as it boils take it off the heat. Have the flour ready in a small bowl and shoot it all into the mixture in the pan. Beat hard with a wooden spoon until you have a smooth ball of dough that comes away from the pan cleanly.
Now gradually add the beaten eggs beating hard with yor wooden spoon after each addtion (note when the eggs first goes in, it looks as if the mixture has seperated, beat hard and it will come back together). Keep going until you have added all the egg and you have a smooth glossy dough. Towards the end, if the dough starts to look a bit loose, stop adding the egg – but normally you need it all. Put the mixture in a pipping bag fitted with a 1 cm plain nozzle. Pipe 8cm fingers of choux pastry on to the baking sheet (or make them bigger, smaller or round buns), but leave enough space between them so that they can expand.
Bake in the pre-heated oven for around 20 minutes until they are well risen and golden brown (you want them quite crisp when they come out of the oven or they will collapse and go soggy). As they come out of the oven pierce them with a small skewer so that the steam can get out. Cool on a wire rack
Whip the cream until it forms soft peaks (so that when you lift the whisk out the point of the cream falls over). Add the vanilla extract (you may need more or less depending on which brand you are using) and the icing sugar. Beat the cream a little more until you get stiff peaks in the cream. Spoon into a piping bag fitted with straight nozzle (about 5cm) or you can split them down the length and using any interesting nozzle.
Make the icing when you have finished the eclairs as it takes minutes and sets easily. Place the sugar, butter and salt in a small saucepan and heat gently until it has all melted. Bring to the boil, add the milk and let it boil for 2 minutes, giving it a stir now and then. Take off the heat and add the icing sugar and stir until smooth. If you forget to sift the icing sugar and it goes lumpy, just put it back on a low heat and stir until the lumps disappear. As soon as it is ready either dip the top of the eclair into the icing (careful its very hot) or using a small pallet knife smooth the icing on the top of the eclair. If the icing starts to set too quickly just put it back on a low heat.
Place on a large plate or serving dish and serve as soon as possible – watch them disappear in moments