Savour the fall season with a pastry recipe featuring apples and caramel.
1 quantity of choux pastry, unbaked*
2 oz. butter
2 oz. soft brown sugar
2 oz. all-purpose flour
2 oz. ground almonds
Salted Caramel Crème Patissière / Caramel Glaze
1 quantity of crème pâtissière
10 1⁄2 oz. superfine sugar
11/5 cups heavy cream
5 oz. butter
salt, to taste
3 large apples**
2–3 tbsp superfine sugar
squeeze of lemon juice
* Add a little less egg to give a slightly firmer and drier mix to assist with even piping.
**A sharp, firm apple such as a Granny Smith works best for this.
Step 1: Pipe 12 éclairs following the method for choux pastry. Brush with beaten egg and bake in an oven set at 300°F for 1 hour.
Step 2: Preheat the oven to 350°F. For the crumble topping, place all the ingredients in a food processor and mix with the blade attachment until well-combined and small lumps start to form. Alternatively, rub the butter into the flour using your fingertips. Stir in the almonds and sugar and work with a spoon until the small lumps form.
Step 3: Tip out onto a lined baking tray and bake in the oven for 6 - 8 minutes or until golden. Allow the crumble mix to cool. Break up any larger lumps with your fingers.
Step 4: As with every time you make caramel, ensure all your ingredients and equipment are prepared before starting to melt the sugar. Caramelize the sugar in a small pot. When the sugar reaches a rich auburn/red color, add the cream and butter. The sugar will solidify, but continue to stir on a medium heat and the sugar will re-melt producing a smooth caramel. Allow the caramel to cook for 30 seconds, then pour into a clean bowl and allow to cool to room temperature.
Step 5: Set aside half of the caramel to glaze the éclairs. Mix the other half of the caramel into the crème pâtissière. Add salt to taste.
Step 6: For the apple compôte, peel, core and chop the apples into 1/4" cubes. Place these in a pot with a teaspoon of water and a tablespoon of the sugar. Warm gently until the apples begin to soften and break down a little. You are looking for a consistency that can be piped but still retains some texture and bite. You may require an additional teaspoon or 2 of water to create this texture. Depending on the apples used, you may need to purée some of the apple compote in a food processor to create a mix that is easy to pipe. Check the sweetness of the compôte. It may require a little more sugar or a squeeze of lemon juice. You need something relatively sour to balance the sweeter glaze and crème pâtissière.
Step 7: To assemble the éclairs, make three small holes in the base of each éclair with a 1⁄2" round piping nozzle. Fill a piping bag with the apple compôte and pipe a small amount into each of the holes.
Step 8: Fill another piping bag with the salted caramel crème pâtissière and fill the éclairs, starting at one end and moving along to fill the middle and opposite end holes in turn.
Step 9: Ensure the caramel glaze is still warm and flows. Invert the éclair and dip it into the glaze. Turn the éclair the right way up but held at a 45° angle over the bowl of glaze. Gently run your finger along the top, pushing off any excess. Clean your finger on a cloth then run it along both sides of the glaze to give an even line along the side of the éclair. Sprinkle with the crumble topping and serve.
Reprinted with permission from Perfect Patisserie: Mastering Macarons, Madeleines and More (2013 Firefly Books Ltd.)