The last few days I have achieved precisely nothing. The reason for this is three months old, loud, and prone to waking at 4am; aka my niece. I was babysitting for a couple of days and despite my best intentions to get some work done while she was here I failed miserably; if anyone can share the secret to taking care of a baby and dog whilst also working and doing the cooking and cleaning AND somehow managing to fit in some time to sleep please do share! The whole experience left me in need of something sweet, but fitting in baking and photography as well would have been a step too far! Unfortunately I made (and ate) these s'mores eclairs a couple of days before babysitting, so there were none left by the time I needed one!
The s'mores eclairs came about because I was very kindly sent a hamper of goodies by OXO and Divine chocolate; it contained some of OXO's new silicone squeeze and pour measuring cups, Divine's new baking chocolate in milk and dark, some marshmallows by the Naked Marshmallow company and fudge by The Fudge House Of Edinburgh. I knew immediately that I wanted to make something using the chocolate and marshmallows (the fudge I saved for eating, sooo good, especially the rocky road one), the first thing that came to mind was rocky road, but I had just made some of that, the second thing I thought of was s'mores - the all-American treat of toasted marshmallow, chocolate and digestive biscuit (graham cracker), so I opted to make something s'mores related and I had been craving eclairs for at least a couple of weeks so s'mores eclairs it was!
The s'mores part of the eclairs consists of a toasted marshmallow creme patissiere (pastry cream) filling, the tops of the eclairs are dipped in chocolate and then sprinkled with crushed digestive biscuits and toasted mini marshmallows and I added a topping of craquelin to the eclairs to add a bit of extra crispness and biscuity flavour. Craquelin is essentially a biscuit dough, which is rolled out thinly then frozen; strips of it are placed on top of the choux pastry before the eclairs are baked and it forms a crunchy, sweet topping. These eclairs were utterly delicious and seriously addictive (I should know, I ate four of them - for testing purposes you understand); they aren't massively complicated to make, and although it does seem like a lot of work, the pastry cream can be made the day beforehand as can the eclairs, but they really should be eaten on the same day as they are filled and assembled; they will still taste good the next day but the pastry will have softened (certainly didn't stop me from enjoying them though!).
I used the Divine milk chocolate to top them with, it melted beautifully and tastes delicious; I melted it using one of the OXO squeeze and pour measuring cups, they are designed to be cool to the touch, even when the contents are boiling hot, and they can go in the microwave, they are also flexible so you can squeeze them to change the shape of the spout and therefore how much mixture pours out; I think they are brilliant, really useful and they have replaced my old, rigid measuring jugs; OXO are also giving away a set to one lucky reader, scroll down to the bottom of the post to enter! I used the Naked Marshmallow company's marshmallows for the toasted marshmallow creme patissiere, though they were probably too good for that! They are really delicious, big, soft marshmallows that are lovely in hot chocolate so I recommend just using mini marshmallows for the recipe and saving nice ones like those for eating as they are!
Toasted marshmallow creme patissiere
- 200 g (7oz) mini marshmallows
- 500 ml (2 + ⅛ cups) full fat milk
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
- 2 large eggs
- 4 large egg yolks
- 30 g (¼ cup) cornflour (cornstarch)
- 30 g (¼ cup) plain flour
- 85 g (⅓ cup + scant 2 tbsp) caster sugar
- 60 g (½ cup) plain flour
- 60 g (¼ cup + 1tbsp) caster sugar
- 50 g (scant ¼ cup) butter
- 60 g (¼ cup) butter
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 tsp caster sugar
- 120 ml (½ cup) water
- 40 g (⅓ cup) plain flour
- 45 g (⅓ cup + 1tsp) strong white bread flour
- about 3 large eggs
- 200 g (7oz) milk chocolate, chopped
- 3 digestive biscuits (graham crackers), roughly crushed
- 5-6 mini marshmallows per eclair
Toasted marshmallow creme patissiere
- Line a baking sheet with a piece of lightly greased tin foil and spread the marshmallows out on it in a single layer, place under the grill but don't switch it on yet.
- Place the milk and vanilla in a heavy bottomed saucepan and heat until almost boiling. Meanwhile, put the eggs, yolks, cornflour, plain flour and sugar in a heatproof bowl and whisk together until smooth.
- Gradually add the hot milk, whisking constantly then return the mixture to the pan over a medium heat, whisk constantly until it comes to a boil and thickens, cook for at least two more minutes, while whisking, to cook out the flour. remove from the heat.
- Switch on the grill and toast the marshmallows until they are dark brown (but not burnt), if you are able to turn them over to toast the other side then do so, or scrape off the top, toasted layer, add it to the creme patissiere and replace the rest under the grill until toasted - essentially all of the flavour comes from the toasted bits, not the untoasted marshmallow so you want to toast as much of it as you can.
- Scrape the toasted marshmallow into the hot creme patissiere and beat it in until smooth, if you are having trouble combining it you can return the pan to a low heat and stir constantly until the marshmallow has melted.
- Pour the creme patissiere into a clean bowl, cover with clingfilm directly on the surface and refrigerate until cold (or until needed the next day if making in advance)
- Mix together the flour and sugar in a bowl then rub in the butter until it resembles breadcrumbs, bring together into a ball then roll the dough out between two sheets of baking parchment to 2mm thick, place on a baking sheet and freeze.
- Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4 and line two baking sheets with baking parchment, draw ten 12cm lines on the back of the parchment, well spaced apart, to act as a piping template.
- Put the butter, salt, sugar and water in a medium pan over a medium-high heat, once the butter has melted and the mixture is at a rolling boil, quickly tip in both flours and rapidly stir together with a wooden spoon so that the mixture forms a dough.
- With the pan still on the heat, stir enthusiastically for two minutes, you want to dry out the dough a bit so that it absorbs as much egg as possible later. Tip the dough into a bowl and continue to beat for a couple more minutes until it stops steaming.
- Whisk together the eggs is a jug then gradually beat the egg into the dough, a little at a time, you may not need to add all of the egg, stop when the dough is at the correct texture - it should have a shine and when it is lifted from the bowl it should fall from the spatula in a V shaped ribbon. It needs to be pipe-able but hold it's shape.
- Transfer the dough to a piping bag fitted with a 1.5cm nozzle (plain or star shaped is fine). Use a little bit of the choux pastry to stick the baking parchment to the baking sheet to make piping easier. Pipe 10 straight lines on the parchment, using the lines you drew as a guide; smooth down any spikes of pastry with a wet finger.
- Cut the frozen craquelin into strips about 1.2cm wide and just slightly shorter than the eclairs, gently place a strip on top of each eclair then bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown and crisp. Switch off the oven and leave the eclairs in there to cool.
- Line a baking sheet with lightly greased tin foil and place about 5-6 mini marshmallows per eclair on it, making sure that they aren't touching, place under the grill and grill until lightly toasted, allow to cool a little, then refrigerate until set.
- Beat the creme patissiere with a wooden spoon until smooth (don't use an electric mixer as overbeating it can break down the structure and cause it to become runny) then place it in a piping bag fitted with an approx 0.5cm plain piping nozzle.
- Make three small holes in the base of each eclair, just big enough to fit the nozzle in; pipe the creme patissiere into the eclairs through the holes, wipe off any excess from the bottom.
- Melt the chocolate, either in 10 second bursts in the microwave or in a bowl set over a pan of gently simmering water (don't let the base of the bowl touch the water), then pour it into a shallow bowl that is wide enough to dip the eclairs into.
- Dip the top of each eclair in the chocolate, making sure that it gets a good coating. Gently peel the toasted marshmallows off the tin foil and arrange them on top of the eclairs (they will probably stick to the foil so coax them off gently) then sprinkle with crushed digestive biscuit. I prefer to dip and decorate the eclairs one at a time so that the chocolate doesn't set before I get to sprinkling the biscuit on it.
- Keep refrigerated if you aren't serving them within an hour and they are best eaten on the day they are made.
I was provided with some products however I was not paid to write this post and all opinions are my own.