Sunday, September 22, 2013

Earl Grey Eclairs

 Junior year, or at least the first 2 weeks of it, has been great and bad and wonderful and terrible and confusing and musical and most of all, busy. I've been baking, occasionally, but it's usually to de-stress, and by the time I'm done I have an entirely new to-do list and I can't even think about sitting down to blog.
 So now, in the 23 minutes I have left before the Emmys start, I give you these eclairs. They were an idea that came to me out of the blue, and somehow, perhaps magically, the baking gods were on my side and they worked out just as I had wanted them to. I only had to make them twice. ;)
 These are a simple choux pastry, hollow inside and perfect for filling with the creamy custard flavored with earl grey tea. The tea is one of my favorite drinks in the world - I have it almost every morning before school, even though it may make me seem like I'm 90 years old - and I even brought home a giant tin of it from England. On top, instead of a traditional fondant glaze, there's a thin layer of sweet cookie dough.
 This layer of cookie dough does several things. First, it makes the whole dessert something totally different, which is always nice. Second, it makes the eclairs beautiful - the cracked, sugar-dusted top is enough to make anyone's mouth water. Third, it adds texture to an otherwise fairly soft dessert: the topping is crispy and crumbly at the same time, and goes perfectly with the smoothness of the cream. Lastly (and maybe most importantly), it kind of melts into the choux and makes the whole thing insanely buttery, and wonderfully reminiscent of tea and cookies. And perfect.
  Enjoy!
 Earl Grey Eclairs
(adapted from Ladurée Sucré and Kitchen Wench)

Biscuit Topping
100g unsalted butter, very cold
125g cake flour
125g caster sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Choux Pastry
120g cake flour
100mL whole milk
100mL water
10g caster sugar
1 pinch salt
80g unsalted butter
4 large eggs

Lightened Crème Pâtissière
1/4 cup loose earl grey tea leaves (or about 5 tea bags)
400mL whole milk
4 egg yolks
80 caster sugar
30g corn starch
25g unsalted butter
1 cup double cream

For the biscuit topping:
Cut the chilled butter into small pieces, then mix together with the flour, sugar and vanilla till well combined.
Bring the mixture together into a ball by hand and refrigerate for an hour.
For the choux:
While the topping mixture is chilling, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and melt the butter into the milk in a saucepan and bring to a simmer.
Add the flour, sugar and salt all at once and rapidly mix with a wooden spoon till the dough comes together into a ball and there is a thin layer forming on the bottom of the pan.
Transfer the dough to a bowl and mix in the eggs with a wooden spoon, one at a time, till the dough is smooth and glossy.
Fill a large piping bag with a 1″/ 2.5cm round tip and pipe out long shapes about 10cm long onto a tray lined with baking paper. Make sure to leave about 10cm between each pastry to leave room for them to spread.
 Once this is done, take the biscuit topping out of the fridge and lightly knead to soften, then place between two sheets of non-stick baking paper or plastic wrap and roll flat to about 1-2mm thick. Cut into rectangles about 4cm x 12cm, to make sure that it completely covers the eclairs and hangs off the sides.
Place each rectangle of biscuit topping on top of each eclair, then bake for 10 minutes, then prop the oven door open about 3mm (the handle of a wooden spoon is great for this) and allow to bake for another 20 minutes or till they are golden on top and fully puffed up. Set aside to cool before filling.
For the cream:
Whisk together the egg yolks and sugar, then add the corn starch and whisk till mixture becomes pale yellow and thickened.
Set aside and scrape the vanilla into the milk and bring to a simmer.
Slowly pour the milk into the egg yolk mixture in a thin stream while constantly beating.
Pour back into the saucepan and bring to a boil while whisking, making sure to scrape down the sides.
Leave the mixture to cool for about 10 minutes so that it’s no longer boiling, then briskly whisk in the butter till the mixture is smooth and glossy.
Scrape the mixture into a non-reactive bowl and keep tightly covered with plastic wrap till ready to use. Once you’re ready to fill the eclairs, beat the cream to firm peaks then carefully mix together the cream and the pastry cream with a spatula.
Fill a piping bag with the mixture then pipe each eclair with the pastry cream in three places and dust with icing sugar before serving.
Best eaten within a day of filling (unfilled pastries can be stored in an airtight container for up to one week).
   -makes about 20 eclairs

2 comments:

c sunshine said...

Hi Sophia,

These look amazingly delicious!

I run an online magazine for teenaged girls and I'd love to feature this recipe in our upcoming issue.

Would you be interested? If so what is the best way to contact you for this? I've been looking on your website but have been unable to find a source.

Best,
-Celia Sunshine
www.aprilandmaymagazine.com/

Sophia said...

Yes, of course! You can email me at sophiasbaking@gmail.com
Thank you!