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Vanilla Eclairs with Pecans

One of my favorite French desserts in the whole world is eclairs. I love the versatility of the flavors and the fact you can use just about any ingredient you want in this classic choux pastry dessert.

These vanilla eclairs are inspired by the genius pastry chef Christophe Adam, who makes the most beautiful eclairs in the world to my taste. Walking into one of his stores in Paris is a feast for the eyes – so many colorful eclairs arranged neatly and it’s just so hard to choose!

These vanilla eclairs were inspired by him – vanilla filled golden eclairs with vanilla glaze and lots of caramelized pecans on top. Vanilla lovers – you’re gonna fall in love with these.

Vanilla Eclairs with Pecans

Photo: Natalie Levin



Vanilla Eclairs with Pecans

10-12 eclairs

For the eclairs:
160 ml. water
5 grams sugar
70 grams butter
3 grams fine salt
15 grams cornstarch
90 grams all-purpose flour
2-3 eggs, beaten

For vanilla cream:
2 grams gelatin powder
10 ml. water
530 ml. milk
Grains of 1 vanilla bean
4 large egg yolks
80 grams sugar
30 grams cornstarch
125 grams soft butter

For vanilla glaze:
150 grams white chocolate
65 grams natural nappage
45 ml. heavy cream
1 tsp. vanilla extract

For caramelized pecans:
60 grams sugar
120 grams halved pecans

Vanilla and Pecan Eclairs

Photo: Natalie Levin

Preparation:

  1. Make the eclairs: preheat oven to 250c degrees and turn it just before baking.
  2. In a medium saucepan put water, salt, sugar and butter and heat to a strong boil.
  3. Add cornstarch and flour and stir while cooking, until it turns into a lump of dough.
  4. Transfer the dough to the bowl of an electric mixer with a paddle attachment and mix on medium speed for 2-3 minutes until it cools down a little.
  5. Add the eggs gradually while beating until dough is elastic and smooth. Check the readiness of dough by creating a “trail” with a wooden spoon in the center of the dough – if the track remains stable, add some eggs, and if it closes a bit – the dough is ready. It is important not to add too many eggs to the dough or it may become too soft and ruined.
  6. Transfer the dough to a pastry bag fitted with a serrated 2 cm piping tip. On a baking tray lined with baking paper pipe 8-10 cm long eclairs. It’s important to leave some space between the eclairs.
  7. Bake the eclairs in the shut-down oven for about 18-20 minutes. It is important not to open the oven door during this time.
  8. Turn the oven to 170c degrees (while eclairs are still in) and continue to bake for 10-15 minutes. In the last 5 minutes of baking, leave the oven door open slot (put a wooden spoon in oven door). Cool completely at room temperature.
  9. Make 2 small holes at the bottom of each eclair.
  10. Vanilla cream: in a small bowl mix gelatin and water and set aside for 10 minutes at room temperature.
  11. In a medium saucepan put milk and vanilla and heat to simmering point.
  12. Meanwhile, whisk egg yolks, sugar and cornstarch until blended.
  13. Pour about 1/3 amount of hot milk onto the yolk mixture while whisking.
  14. Add the yolk mixture into the pan with remaining milk and beat well.
  15. Cook over medium heat while constant whisking until you get a uniform and thick cream.
  16. Add in the gelatin and beat until it melts.
  17. Add the butter and beat until dissolved.
  18. Transfer the cream into a closed container and refrigerate for about 3 hours.
  19. When completely cold, transfer the cream into a mixer with paddle-attachment and whip just until smooth.
  20. Transfer the cream into a pastry bag fitted with a round 1/2 cm piping tip.
  21. Fill the eclairs with the cream, and keep in the refrigerator.
  22. Vanilla glaze: chop the chocolate and put in a bowl. Add nappage and cream and solvents together in the microwave or over double-boiler until everything is melted and mixture is smooth. Add vanilla and mix.
  23. Transfer the glaze into a wide plate to dip the eclairs in.
  24. Dip the top of the eclairs in the icing and shake excess chocolate. Put on baking pan and let cool for 30 minutes in the refrigerator until icing is set.
  25. Caramelized pecans: in a medium pan put sugar and form caramel.
  26. When the caramel is amber, add the pecans and reduce the flame to medium.
  27. Cook the pecans in caramel, stirring constantly, until pecans are slightly roasted and cover in caramel.
  28. Transfer the pecans on a baking paper and allow to cool at room temperature.
  29. Chop the pecans and sprinkle on top of each éclair.

Notes:

  • Keep the eclairs in a closed container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days, but they are at their best on the day or two after preparation.
  • Instead of pecan you can use any other nut you like.
Vanilla and Pecan Eclairs

Photo: Natalie Levin

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