When I was a kid, cream puffs were a favorite of mine and my mother made them every once in a while. When I left home I didn’t try making them because I remembered seeing a little dollop of batter on a baking sheet and when they were served they were huge. To me that meant a lot of work.
Fast forward to learning the words profiteroles and choux pastry and the realization that nothing could be easier. A little water, butter and flour – then a couple of eggs and that’s it. Pipe on a baking sheet or even drop by tablespoon and it just works.
I received a copy of Jill Colonna’s new book, Teatime in Paris recently and I was strolling through the pages. As I turned the page to eclairs, John was walking behind me and said, “Oh, those look nice.” I knew what recipe I would make.
Remember that gorgeous vanilla I received from Sunshine Vanilla Company? I decided to put one of their fancy dancy Tahitian vanilla beans in the crème patisserie and oh my goodness, when I opened the package the aroma hit me instantly.
I’ve been using vanilla beans for a long time but I have never and I mean NEVER had one as soft as a baby’s bottom and so full of vanilla aroma.
Seriously, look at the vanilla seed goodness in not quite half a bean! I meant to try these ages ago but as you might have heard, I’ve been a bit under the weather so most everything got put on the back burner. I’m feeling heaps better and as long as I continue with the physio and the exercises, I will reach my goal of being pain free.
If you are looking for the most wonderful vanilla, you can order their beans online. They’ve got beans from Madagascar and Tahiti. They even have some that we can buy to make vanilla extract. I’m going to order some of those too. I haven’t bought vanilla extract for years – homemade is best.
The crème patisserie was made last night in the Thermomix. Before I started I heated the milk and added the beans to steep for 30 minutes and then everything went into the Thermomix for 9 minutes and then in a bowl covered with cling film until it cooled down enough to go in the refrigerator. The Tahitian vanilla bean put this crème patisserie over the top. I could have eaten it right out of the bowl.
Today I made the choux pastry and this plateful of eclairs was done in under 30 minutes. I photographed them and then I took a bite and oh my god, they were amazing. I went to the stairs and yelled, “Want some dessert?” (it was 3:30pm)
So I ate the one in front and John came down and took the plate. Somewhere on this blog and maybe in a lot of somewheres, I have said that eclairs are his all-time favorite dessert. I ate mine and looked at the plate in this photo and it was empty. Empty! He inhaled all four. Granted, they were small and this man really loves eclairs, but sheesh! No dinner for us tonight!
Teatime in Paris is Jill’s second book. Her first book, Mad about Macarons is internationally recognized as one of the best books on how to make French macarons. It’s all due to Jill’s book that I was able to make my first gorgeous batch of macarons so I knew this book would be a treat.
For anyone who’s a bit wary of making fancy French creations, Jill takes all the worry away. Her advice to take pleasure in making one of her recipes and take your time. Don’t try one of these recipes if you’re a novice unless you’ve got some time. Read the recipe all the way through and make sure you have all your ingredients on the counter or bench before you begin.
If you can, make parts of the recipe ahead, like I did with the creme patisserie for the eclairs and finally choose a recipe that’s simple enough to make at home. That’s where Jill’s book comes in. She only shares recipes mere mortals can make.
You can buy Jill’s new book, Teatime in Paris, online from Amazon. If you’ve been looking for recipes for éclairs, tartlets, millefeuilles, ice cream, crêpes, madeleines, financiers, and macarons, this is the book for you.
Jill’s publisher doesn’t permit posting of her recipes online so here is my eclair and creme patisserie recipes. Hers might be better. 🙂
- 500ml full cream milk
- 1 vanilla bean pod
- 85 grams sugar
- 50 grams plain flour
- 3 eggs
- 75 grams butter - chopped
- ¾ cup cold water
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 3 eggs, lightly beaten, plus one egg reserved.
- 115 grams / 4 ounces chocolate chopped (chocolate chips will work)
- ½ cup cream
- 1 teaspoon corn syrup
- Split and scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean and add the seeds and the pods to the milk in a small saucepan. Bring to nearly boiling (when there are little bubbles along the edge of the milk) and then take it off the heat and leave to steep and cool for 30minutes.
- Add the sugar to the Thermomix and whiz for 10-20 seconds on speed 9.
- Strain the milk into the bowl (rinse the beans and when dry add to your sugar to make vanilla sugar)
- Add the flour and eggs.
- Put the heat on 90 and speed 4 for 7 minutes. If the consistency isn't right, cook for another minute or two. With 3 eggs it was fine at 7 minutes for me.
- Cover with cling film touching the custard and cool enough to put in the refrigerator. This is best if you can make it the night before.
- Preheat oven to 200C fan / 400F
- Place the water, butter, salt and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat until the butter melts and the water begins to boil.
- Reduce heat and dump the flour in all at once and stir with a sturdy wooden spoon until the mixture comes together in a ball. (It will, I promise)
- Return to the heat and stir for a couple of minutes, then turn out into a mixing bowl and let it cool for about 5 minutes.
- Add approximately ⅓ of the beaten eggs to the flour mixture and mix with the wooden spoon. I know it will look weird but keep working it and it will begin to look like batter.
- Add another ⅓ of the egg and do the same thing.
- Add the final ⅓ and when it's combined, it's ready to pipe.
- Place mixture into a piping bag with a large star shape tip and pipe about 3½ inches onto baking paper over a baking sheet.
- Place in preheated oven and bake for 5 minutes and then reduce heat to 160C / 320F for a further 8 minutes until they are golden brown.
- Remove from the oven and slice the tops off and put them back into the oven to dry for another 6 minutes.
- Cool and fill with crème patisserie and serve plain or with chocolate ganache on top.
- Heat the cream in a small saucepan until it just begins to bubble at the edge of the pan.
- Add the chopped chocolate and corn syrup and leave it for 4-5 minutes. Then stir until smooth.
- Spoon a small portion over the top of each eclair.
Thanks to Jill for a copy of her book!