I had some frozen cherries from last summer in the freezer, that I wanted to use for something special. To me, eclairs are just that. Special. They are so simple, that the flavours you put in really get to shine. Cherries, chocolate and grappa are one of my favourite pairings, especially when combined with the freshness of mint.
I infused fresh mint leaves in the pate a choux, and since I love the look of a choux au craquelin, I made a salted cocoa craquelin topping rather than the traditional chocolate glaze. You could go in a different direction than cherries and grappa here, maybe a classic vanilla pastry cream or a mint cremeux with chocolate chunks for a French take on a classic.
I used a portion of leftover cherry cremeux for a lovely summery tart with rhubarb and hibiscus, that I will be posting soon.
Mint eclairs with salted cocoa craquelin and cherry grappa cremeux
Adapted from Choux au craquelin by Maja Vase
Cherry grappa cremeux
200g cherry purée
40g egg yolk
50g granulated sugar
1,5 gelatin sheets
Pinch of salt
Soak the gelatine in cold water.
Mix sugar, egg yolks and salt in a heatproof bowl, and set aside.
Add the cherry purée to small saucepan and bring to just below boiling. Pour a little cherry purée over the egg yolks while stirring, then add the rest of the cherry purée. Stir until fully combined. Squeeze of excess water from the gelatine, then stir into the cherry mixture. Cool to 50C, then stir in the butter and grappa. Use an immersion blender to emulsify.
Transfer the cremeux to a piping bag with a small nozzle and cool completely in the refrigerator.
Salted cocoa craquelin
100g butter, at room temperature
100g brown sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
Mix everything together to a homogenous dough, roll out to about 3mm thickness between to pieces of parchment. Transfer to the refrigerator to chill while making the pate a choux.
Mint infused pate a choux
100ml whole milk
100 ml water
200ml firmly packed mint leafs, roughly chopped
1 tsp. sukker
1⁄2 tsp. salt
100g all-purpose flour
3 large eggs
Combine milk, water, butter, mint leaves, sugar and salt in a heavy bottomed saucepan, and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and leave to infuse for 30 minutes. Sieve the milk mixture, discard the mint leaves and pour back into the saucepan. Bring back to a boil, remove from heat again and stir in the flour. Stir until the mixture comes together and the dough is soft, shiny and doesn't stick to the sides of the pan.
Transfer the dough to the bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment, leave to cool for 10-15 minutes. With the mixer on medium speed add the eggs one at a time, scraping the bowl in between. Beat the dough until soft, pliable and elastic.
Transfer the dough to a piping bag with a 2,5cm diameter star nozzle. Pipe 12,5cm long eclairs on a parchment clad baking tray. Cut 12,5x2,5cm strips of the craquelin and place on top of the eclairs.
Bake for 30-35 minutes at 175C fan. The eclairs are ready when golden brown all over. Leave to cool completely.
Make two holes on the bottom of the eclairs and pipe the cherry cremeux into the holes to ensure the cavities are completely filled.