I'd not made choux pastry in such a long time that when I casually attempted to make gougeres the other night I failed spectacularly. I didn't dry the dough after mixing in the flour and then underbaked the puffs, ending up with a flabby cheesy mess. Not one to let such a basic pastry skill elude me I embarked on a veritable choux-fest. Over the next few days, D was guaranteed to wander into the kitchen to encounter yet another tray of cooling cream puffs or eclairs.
The best-looking batch was rewarded with a butterscotch cream filling, a new favourite experiment of mine. Flavoured with rum and sea salt, this is possibly the most lush, indulgent and somehow autumnal of creams. I wanted to take the butterscotch-iness of the eclairs a bit further by adding a dark sugar glaze, but this created a sugar overkill - a light sprinking of powdered sugar is all these guys needed after filling.
- 80g dark brown sugar
- 3 egg yolks
- 25g corn flour
- 1 cup whole milk
- Big pinch sea salt
- 1 Tbsp dark rum, or to taste
- 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup whole milk
- 1/4 cup water
- Pinch of sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 70g plain flour
- 2 large eggs
1. For the choux pastry: Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C and line two baking trays with parchment paper. Combine the butter, milk, water, sugar
and salt in a medum pan and bring to a quick boil. Turn the heat down to medium low and tip in the flour all at once, mixing with a wooden spoon for a few minutes until the dough dries out a bit and is smooth and shiny. Transfer the dough to a medium bowl and add the eggs one at a time, mixing completely after each one. You should now have a smooth, sticky dough. Place it in a piping bag fitted with a plain 1 inch nozzle and pipe eclairs about 5 inches long. Place in an oven for 8 minutes with the door kept slightly ajar using a wooden spoon. Remove the spoon, rotate the eclairs and continue baking for another 12 minutes until puffy and golden all over. Leave to cool.
2. For the pastry cream: Gently whisk 60 grams of the sugar with the corn flour and egg yolks. Heat the milk in a small saucepan until very hot but not boiling. Pour about 1/3 of the hot milk into the egg yolk mixture, whisking enthusiastically before adding the resulting mixture back in with the rest of the milk. Continue stirring continuously over medium high heat until the cream thickens to a mayonnaise-like consistency. Remove from heat and continue stirring while you pop the pan in a sink filled with cold water. Stir in the rum, salt, butter and remaining sugar and leave to cool to room temperature before refridgerating for at least an hour.
3. Slice the cooled eclairs gently with a serrated knife. Put the cream in a pastry bag fitted with a 1 inch piping tip and fill the eclairs. Dust lightly with powdered sugar.
Baked choux pastry doesn't seem to do too well in the fridge - which means these are absolutely fantastic made and eaten fresh. Enjoy!