Chocolate violet éclairs

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

Choux pastry

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 icing:

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.

 

 

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