I love violet creams, so I couldn’t resist creating a
variation of these flavours for some mini-éclairs for my book
National Trust Simply Baking (see
Books). They’re perfect for winter teas
and taste as dreamy as Karen’s beautiful photograph opposite.
Ideally, these mini-éclairs are best eaten on the day they’re
made, but you can chill and eat them the next day – they’ll be a bit
softer. You can buy crystallised violets
from on-line baking shops such as http://www.souschef.co.uk and crème de violette can be bought online from http://www.thedrinkshop.com.
Makes 12 small éclairs
55g/2oz plain flour
pinch of salt
55g/2oz butter, diced
150ml/5 fl oz water
2 small eggs, beaten
Violet cream filling
55g/2oz crystallised violets
285ml/10 fl oz double cream
3 tablespoons crème de violette or kirsch
For the chocolate
55g/2oz dark chocolate, roughly chopped
15g/ ½ oz butter, diced
2 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons icing sugar, sifted
1 To make the
éclairs: preheat the oven to fan 200°C/gas 7.
Oil a non-stick baking sheet. Sift
the salt and flour into a bowl.
2 Put the butter
and water in a small saucepan. Bring to
a brisk boil and, as soon as the butter has melted, take off the heat and tip
in the flour. Beat vigorously with a
wooden spoon for 3-4 minutes over a low heat until the mixture is smooth and
glossy and leaves the side of the saucepan.
3 Remove from the
heat and beat in the egg, a little at a time.
Stop beating once the dough is smooth and glossy but stiff enough to
hold its shape.
4 For mini-éclairs spoon the pastry into a
piping bag with a 1cm/ ½ in nozzle, but if you want to make normal-sized
éclairs skip here and go to point 5 below.
Pipe twelve 9cm/3 ½ in lengths of pastry on to the baking sheet. Bake
for 12 minutes or until golden. Using a
small knife, make a slit along the side of each éclair. Return to the oven,
turn off the heat, and leave the door slightly open for 5 minutes to dry out
the pastry, Cool on a wire rack.
5 For normal-sized éclairs use a 2cm/ ¾ in plain
nozzle and pipe out six 11cm/4 ½ in lengths of pastry on to your baking
sheet. Allow plenty of space between
each éclair. Bake for 15-20 minutes or
until dry and crisp. The make a slit
along the side of each éclair. Return to
the oven, turn off the heat and leave the door ajar for 5 minutes to let the
éclairs dry out. Cool on a wire rack.
6 Reserve 12 or 6
crystallised violets for decoration and roughly crush the remaining violets.
7 Once the
éclairs are completely cold, make the violet cream filling. Pour the cream and
alcohol into a large bowl. Whisk until
the cream forms soft peaks. Fold the
crystallised violets into the cream. Transfer to a piping bag with a 1cm/ ½ in
nozzle. Fill each éclair with some cream.
8 To make the
chocolate icing, put the roughly chocolate, butter and water in a large bowl
that fits snugly over a pan of just boiled water (off the heat). Stir occasionally until the chocolate and
butter have melted. You may need to
replace the boiling water to allow them to melt. Remove the bowl from the pan and beat in the
sifted icing sugar. Once the icing is
smooth, spoon it over the top of each éclair. Decorate with a single
crystallised violet. Leave to set.