Bite into these crisp éclairs with crème pâtissière and swirl of salted caramel sauce for ultimate indulgence. I could eat these for breakfast! Making this classic French pastry at home is easier than you think. It does require some efforts, but the reward will be a decadent mouthful of crisp pastry, creamy vanilla custard and smooth salted caramel.
If you are a fan of chocolate, you can dip the top of each éclair in the chocolate for luxurious self-indulgence.
For crème patissière
Yields 600 ml
- 500 ml whole milk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 6 medium egg yolks
- 75 g caster sugar
- 25 g plain flour
- 20 g cornflour
For pâte à choux
- 65 ml water
- 65 ml whole milk
- 55 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 tsp caster sugar
- pinch of fine sea salt
- 100 g plain flour
- 4 medium eggs, beaten
For caramel sauce
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 85 g butter, diced
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 tsp fine sea salt
- Make crème patissière. Put the milk and vanilla into a heavy-bottomed saucepan, bring to the boil and simmer very gently for about 5 minutes. Take off the heat and let cool for 30 seconds.
- Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and caster sugar until they turn a pale straw colour, then whisk in the flour and cornflour. Pour on the milk, whisking continuously, then pour back into the pan.
- Whisking constantly, bring back to the boil over a medium heat and cook for 1 minute. Pour the crème pâtissière into a bowl. Place a sheet of plastic wrap directly on top of the crème pâtissière to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until ready to use.
- Make caramel sauce. In a 2 to 3 quart saucepan, melt the sugar over medium-high heat. Once all the sugar has melted, swirl the pan occasionally. As soon as the sugar turns amber in color add your butter and whisk vigorously. It will bubble up but just keep whisking until all the butter has melted.
- Remove pan from the heat and slowly pour in the cream while whisking vigorously. The caramel is going to bubble again. Whisk until all the cream is incorporated and then whisk in the fleur de sel. Set the sauce aside to cool for 15 minutes. You can refrigerate the rest of sauce for up to 2 weeks, but you will need to warm it before using.
- Prepare pâte à choux. Put the water, milk, butter, sugar and salt into a small saucepan and bring to the boil over a high heat. Take off the heat, immediately tip in the flour and quickly stir with a wooden spoon until completely smooth.
- Return to a medium heat and cook for about 1 minute until the mixture comes away from the side of the pan. Remove from the heat and gradually whisk in the beaten eggs until the dough is shiny, smooth and of dropping consistency.
- Spoon the mixture into a large piping bag fitted with a 1.5 cm plain nozzle and leave to cool and stiffen slightly, for about 5 minutes; this will make it easier to pipe.
- Line a large baking tray with greaseproof paper. Pipe éclairs, each about 8 cm long, onto the paper, spacing them well apart to allow them room to expand.
- Baking no 1: Preheat the oven to 240 C. Place the éclairs in and turn the oven off. Leave éclairs to rise for 15 minutes, then turn the oven on to 180 C and bake for 20 minutes. Leave to cool.
- Baking no 2: Preheat the oven to 180 C. Place the éclairs and bake for 10 minutes. Then slightly open the oven door (you can put a wooden spoon in between) and keep on baking for another 20 minutes. Leave to cool on a wire rack.
To assemble the éclairs, use a small, sharp knife to cut each éclair horizontally in half and pipe the crème patissière into the centre, drizzle with caramel sauce and place an upper part on the top.