Amidst all the Chinese New Year baking, I made time to bake some of my favourite éclairs. Lemon and meringue is such a superb pair, don’t you think? I can think of so many ways why they are so.
Oh, just a sidetrack, whenever I think about lemon meringue,this cute cartoon by Judy Horacek, an Australian cartoonist and illustrator, comes to mind. It never fails to make me smile/stifle a snigger, every single time. Pretty good, ain’t it?
Back to my eclairs, these are as great as lemon meringue tarts. I guess it really depends if you are more of a tart person or a choux person. I can’t decide on my allegiance on one or the other.
I think I like the look of these éclairs. They turned out rather pretty, no odd shapes, rather uniform in length and size and oh yes, I love the wiggle/swiggle, just like someone’s signature right on the top of these éclairs.
Hope to get my pictures of my Chinese New Year cookies up on the blog soon.
Hope everyone is well and happy in the first month of 2014.
Recipe: Lemon meringue eclairs
Makes about 30 eclairs
I love the flavour combination of lemon and meringue. It is one of the best out there and I can never turn it down. The lemon cream is essentially a curd with some whipped cream to allow it to hold its form. I find it best to leave this in the fridge to firm up while you bake the eclairs and make the meringue.
For a step-by-step guide to making choux pastry, please head on over to my other post.
Ingredients for lemon cream:
125g Caster sugar
125ml Lemon juice, freshly squeezed
200g unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
220ml full cream (at least 33% fat)
1.First of all, prepare the lemon curd. Put the lemon juice, caster sugar, and eggs into a stainless steel bowl. Whisk them over a bain-marie.
2. At first, the mixture will go frothy and bubbly. Continue whisking until it thickens until a ribbon stage. This means that as you lift the whisk from the mixture, it will fall back upon itself but should leave a trail or ‘ribbon’ across the surface. This ribbon will not immediately sink back in on itself but will hold firm.This will take a while so be patient.
3. Take the thickened mixture off heat and add in the cubed butter and whisk until incorporated. Let it cool and thicken in the fridge. This step can be done overnight.
4. Whisk the cream to soft peaks. Fold in the cream into the lemon curd in about 3 additions. Let it set in the fridge while you prepare the the eclairs and the Italian meringue.
Eclairs (Choux pastry)
Ingredients for the choux pastry:
50ml full cream milk
75g unsalted butter
heap tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
110g plain flour
1. Prepare trays for baking the eclairs by greasing it with butter so that they would not stick on the tray.
2. Place water, milk, butter, sugar and salt into a pot and bring it to a rolling boil. It should be bubbling furiously.
3. Remove the pot from the heat or turn down the heat and pour in all the flour at once and stir immediately and vigorously with a wooden spoon/spatula. Ensure that there is no lumps of flour in the *panade. Cook out the mixture over low heat for another 2-3 minutes. You should have a glossy panade that can be formed into a ball that comes away from the sides of the pot easily.
4.Remove the panade and place it into your machine mixer bowl. Using a paddle attachment, put the machine on low speed in order to cool the panade down for about 5 minutes. You wouldn’t want to add in the eggs when the panade is still hot. You may end up cooking the eggs.
5. When the panade is not hot to touch, with the paddle attachment still on, start adding the eggs one at a time at medium speed (speed 4 on the Kitchenaid mixer). The mixture may look like it has cuddled and split at first but be patient and allow the machine to do its job to emulsify the mixture. It will come back together in a while.
6. Continue adding the eggs until you get a smooth, thick, glossy paste. When you lift up your spatula, it should fall after roughly 3 seconds. It should be able to fall from the spatula on its own but not be too wet that it can’t hold its shape. You may/may not require the entire amount of eggs as stated in the recipe (or you may need slightly more eggs), depending on the consistency of the choux paste.
7. Place choux paste into a piping bag with a 1 cm plain nozzle/star shaped nozzle. Pipe them as evenly in straight lines about 12 cm in length.
8. Egg wash the éclairs with a brush and at the same time flatten down the little tips. This is to ensure that the tips do not burn.
9. Bake immediately at 180 degrees celcius in a pre-heated oven for about 30 minutes (they take a shorter time compared to my choux pastry in the last post because they are a lot smaller). Choux pastry must be thorougly baked. if the sides of the walls are moist, when removed from the oven, steam will condense back into water and the still-wet walls will recoil. This will cause the choux pastry to collapse/ and flattened itself.
10. You can check if the eclair shells are properly baked by removing a shell from the oven and tear it apart to see if the entire choux is dry. Only remove the entire batch when the test shell is dry.
11. Fill these eclairs only after they have cooled completely.
Ingredients for the Italian Meringue:
120g Egg white
240g Caster sugar
1. Put in the water and caster sugar into a clean, grease-free pot. Do not stir mixture to prevent crystalisation of sugar. Cook to a soft-ball stage or until 118 degrees celcius. Use a thermometer to measure the temperature of the sugar as it boils.
2. Start whisking the egg whites until soft peak stage only when the thermometer shows that syrup is at 100 degrees celcius.
3. Once the sugar syrup reaches 118 degrees celcius, take it off the heat and allow the syrup to stop bubbling so rapidly before pouring into the egg whites. Turn the speed of the mixer to max speed while you pour the sugar syrup in a slow and steady stream. Continue to whisk the egg whites at maximum speed until stiff peaks. Then turn down to a low-medium speed and whisk until meringue is cool before using.
To assemble the eclair:
1. You can choose to slice the eclair into half lengthwise or use a toothpick to poke holes on the bottom ends of the eclair.
2. Fill it with the chilled down lemon cream (it should be firm and able to hold its peak at this point
3. Fill a piping bag with a saint honore piping tip and pipe in a wiggle pattern onto the entire eclair’s length. Use a blow torch to brown the meringue until it is evenly caramelised.