Friday, October 17, 2014

Caramel Apricot Eclairs

Basically, they need to come arrest me, because I've made crack. Seriously folks, this stuff shouldn't be allowed to exist. Mostly because it will be solely responsible for each of you gaining about 10 pounds. Deal with it. No one said crack was good for you.

The eclair dough (technically called a pate a choux) is nice and crusty on the outside, but tender on the inside.


I mean, who can say no to this thing?


The filling transforms apricots into a silky smooth praline-esq custard. Seriously. Forget about pumpkin spice lattes, this filling tastes like Fall. It's smooth and creamy, with just the right amount of caramel-ly, cinnamon-y goodness. Think pecan pie filling, only slightly fruity and smoky. Exactly. I'll give you a second to wipe the drool.


It's flaky and cakey at the same time.

And the glaze has just the right amount of caramel flavor without being overpowering. Like I said, crack.


yuuuummmmmmm.........

This recipe makes about 20 to 21 eclairs. Try it out, and let me know what you think. My test market (cough... my mother... cough) said it was the best thing I've ever made. That's high praise for someone who's been baking since she was ten. Now go forth and make these babies, you won't regret it. Though, in all honestly, your scale probably will.

Please leave the room, I am going to eat everything.


Naaaah, totally worth it. Without further ado, I present to you,  the recipe :


Caramel Apricot Éclairs
Yields about 21 small éclairs (approx. 2.5 inches long)

Some of the measurements are in volume, others in weight. I made up this recipe in front of my food scale, which is more accurate than measuring cups, any day. Don't have a food scale? You should buy one. They only cost around $15, and they're awesome. 

The dough
.5 cup water
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
.5 tablespoon sugar
Pinch salt
80 grams all purpose flour
2 large eggs

Pastry bag, or thick zip lock bag
Scissors
Wooden spoon
Medium saucepan
Stand mixer, or hand held mixer

1.      Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
2.      Line a sheet pan with parchment paper, set aside.
3.      Put the water, butter, sugar, and salt in a large saucepan over high heat.
4.      When contents are boiling, remove from heat and add flour.
5.      Stir liquid and flour with a wooden spoon until all the flour is absorbed and a smooth ball forms.
6.      Transfer to bowl of a stand mixer (or handheld mixer), and let sit for 2 to 3 minutes for dough to cool slightly.
7.      On a low speed with the paddle attachment, stir dough, adding one egg at a time until the eggs are fully incorporated. Allow each egg to absorb before adding the next.
8.      You’ll know the mixture is ready when it is very smooth in texture and forms a string when pressed between your thumb and index finger.
9.      Quickly transfer to the piping bag, and pipe out 2-2.5 inch, relatively thick, lines of dough onto the prepared sheet pan.
10.  Cook dough for 10 minutes at 425, then turn down heat to 350 and cook for an additional 10 minutes.
11.  Once cooked, transfer to cooling rack. Let éclairs fully cool before filling.


The Filling
60 grams dried apricots
100 grams white sugar
.25 cup unsalted butter
1/8 cup dark corn syrup
1/8 cup water
Dash pumpkin pie spice
Pinch salt
½ cup milk
3 egg yolks
1 teaspoon corn starch

1.      In a food processor, pulse together dried apricots and sugar, until fully incorporated and no large pieces of apricots remain. The mixture will resemble brown sugar when ready.
2.      Transfer sugar mixture to a small saucepan. Add butter, corn syrup, pumpkin pie spice, water and salt.
3.      Cook mixture over medium heat for about 8 minutes, or until it reaches a rolling boil and begins to thicken.
4.      While mixture is cooking, combine milk, egg yolks, and corn starch in small cup or bowl.
5.      Whisking constantly, slowly add milk mixture. Continue stirring for about 5 minutes, or until mixture thickens. It will be the consistency of thick oatmeal at this point.
6.      Remove from heat, and transfer to a separate bowl.
7.      Set aside.
8.      Once completely cooled, transfer to a piping bag fitted with a long tip. This will be used to fill the éclairs.

The Glaze
60 grams white sugar
¼ cup water
10 grams dark corn syrup
1 tablespoon butter
Pinch salt
1 teaspoon vegetable shortening
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Additional cup of water
100 grams powdered sugar

1.      In a small saucepan combine the sugar, water, corn syrup, salt, and butter.
2.      Cook over medium heat until the mixture begins to turn a medium amber color.  Add vegetable shortening, and stir until fully combined.
3.      Carefully add vanilla extract, standing back as it will cause the sugar to splatter. Stir until fully combined.
4.      At this point you must add enough water to thin out the mixture so it does not crack once cooled. To do this, carefully add a couple of tablespoons at a time of water, stirring constantly, until a thin syrup forms. This should take about 5 to 6 tablespoons of water.
5.      Remove from heat and transfer to a separate bowl.
6.      Measure out the powdered sugar in a medium bowl.
7.      Add the caramel to the powdered sugar. Stir until fully combined.
8.      The consistency should be of a medium to thin glaze. Add one tablespoon of water at a time to the powdered sugar mixture until the right consistency is achieved.
9.      Once ready to glaze the éclairs, the glaze will begin to dry quickly. It may be necessary to add more water as you work.

Assembly
1.      This is the easy part.
2.      Make the filling, let cool.
3.      Make the dough, let cool.
4.      Using a long piping tip on a pastry bag, fill each éclair.
5.      Make the glaze.
6.      Dip the top of each éclair in the glaze.
7.      Shake off excess glaze.
8.      Place glazed éclairs on cooling rack, allowing glaze to drip off.
9.      Allow glaze to slightly harden before moving to a serving dish.
10.  Eat them all.
11.  What? Okay fine, give one to a friend.