How to Make Dulce de Leche Eclairs

How to Make Dulce de Leche Eclairs

 DULCE DE LECHE ECLAIRS

 

Makes 12 eclairs

  • Pâte à Choux for Eclairs, chilled in the pastry bag
  • Dulce de Leche
  • Diplomat Cream
  • Candied Pecans
  • Caramélia Rectangles (optional)

     

You’ll need a spray bottle and a pastry bag with an Ateco #863 French star tip.

Create a template and pipe and bake the éclairs. Let cool completely.

Using a serrated knife, cut off the top third of each éclair (the tops will not be used).

To fill the eclairs: Spoon 30 grams/about 1½ tablespoons of the dulce de leche into each éclair bottom.

Fill the pastry bag with the diplomat cream. Pipe the cream in a spiral rosette pattern over the dulce de leche in each éclair, extending just past the top of the éclair. Arrange 6 or 7 pecans along the right edge of the spiral. Pipe a second spiral on top, leaving the right halves of the pecans exposed. Top with a Caramélia rectangle, if using, and set on a serving platter. Repeat with the remaining éclairs.

STEP 1: DULCE DE LECHE

 

Makes 1 ½ cups (385 grams)

One 14-ounce (397-gram) can sweetened condensed milk

Remove the label from the can. Stand the can in a large saucepan that will hold the can upright with at least 1 inch of water to cover, and add water to cover the can generously (it is important to keep the can completely covered with water throughout the cooking process). Bring the water just to a boil for 4 hours. Cook at a low boil, adding more water as necessary to keep the can covered by at least 1 inch. Remove from the heat and let the can cool completely in the water.

The dulce de leche can be stored in the can at room temperature; once opened, it can be transferred to a covered container and refrigerated for up to 1 month.

 

STEP 2: CANDIED PECANS

 

Makes 5 ½ cups (570 grams)

  • 4 ½ cups (500 grams) Whole pecans
  • ½ cup + 1 tablespoon (114 grams) Granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons (30 grams) Water

This is a simple recipe, but the timing is important. The nuts must be warm when they are added to the syrup, to speed the crystallization of the caramelized sugar on the pecans.

Preheat the oven to 325°F (standard).

Spread the nuts on a baking sheet and place in the oven to toast.

Meanwhile, when the nuts are becoming fragrant, after 5 to 6 minutes, combine the sugar and water in a large frying pan and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar.

Add the pecans to the syrup and stir constantly until they have a white crystallized appearance; the syrup should not take on any color. Transfer the nuts to a plate or platter and cool completely.

STEP 3: CARAMÉLIA RECTANGLES

 

Makes 12 rectangles

  • Grapeseed or canola oil
  • 3.5 ounces (100 grams) Valrhona Caramélia 34% chocolate, tempered
  • You’ll need a 6-by-12-inch piece of acetate and a bicycle cutter
  • For this recipe, we use Valrhona Caramélia 34% chocolate.

     

Lightly oil the work surface to anchor the acetate, lay the acetate on it, and press against it to be sure the acetate is perfectly smooth. Spoon about one-third of the chocolate onto the acetate and spread it in a thin, even layer extending past the edges of the acetate. Place the tip of a paring knife under a corner of the acetate, carefully lift it, and move it to a clean section of the work surface.

After about 2 minutes (the time will vary depending on the temperature in the room), the top of the chocolate will appear matte rather than shiny. The chocolate should be cut at this point, before it has hardened.

The size of the chocolate rectangles should match the length of the éclairs: we use 6-by-1-inch strips. A bicycle cutter works best, but you can also use a 1-inch-wide ruler. Hold the ruler above the chocolate and use it as a guide, running a knife down the length of the ruler to cut six 1-inch-wide lengthwise strips of chocolate. Then, make a cut across the center to make twelve 6-by-1-inch rectangles.

Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Once the chocolate is no longer tacky to the touch, move the acetate to the sheet pan, cover with another piece of parchment, and set another sheet pan on top to keep the rectangles from curling.

Just before you are ready to use the chocolate, put the pan in the refrigerator for 5 minutes to harden it completely.

STEP 4: DIPLOMAT CREAM

 

Makes 3 ½ cups (750 grams)

  • 4/5 sheet (2 grams) Silver leaf gelatin
  • 2 ¾ cups (610 grams) Pastry Cream
  • ¾ cup + 1 ½ tablespoons (200 grams) Heavy cream, whipped to medium peaks

     

Place the gelatin in a bowl of ice water to soften.

Transfer one-third of the pastry cream to a medium microwave-safe bowl or a small saucepan. Remove the gelatin from the water, squeezing out excess water, and add to the bowl or pan. Heat, gently stirring, to loosen the pastry cream and dissolve the gelatin.

Meanwhile, transfer the remaining pastry cream to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or to a medium bowl and mix or stir until smooth.

Strain the warm pastry cream through a fine-mesh strainer into the bowl with the rest of the pastry cream and mix or stir until smooth. Remove the bowl from the mixer stand and fold in the whipped cream one-third at a time.

Press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface to prevent a skin from forming and refrigerate until firm, at least 4 hours. (The cream can be refrigerated for up to 4 days.)

When ready to use the cream, transfer to a bowl and stir gently until it has a creamy consistency.

STEP 5: PÂTE A CHOUX

Makes 785 grams/28 ounces
  • 1 ¼ cups (175 grams) All-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons (33 grams) Granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (240 grams) Water
  • 4.2 ounces (120 grams) Unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ¾ + 1/8 teaspoons (2.5 grams) Kosher salt
  • 1 cup (250 grams) Eggs

     

This pâte à choux dough is a little stiffer than the version we use for the cream puffs. Because the cream puffs are molded, the dough can be fairly loose. The éclair dough is piped onto sheet pans, so it needs extra body to hold up.

You’ll need a pastry bag with an Ateco #867 French star tip.

Combine the flour and sugar in a small bowl. Using the proportions above, make the dough as directed in the cream puff recipe (page 160), adding the flour and sugar mixture in the same way and adding all the eggs.

Transfer the dough to the pastry bag and refrigerate until cold before using.

Note on Freezing: Pâte à Choux for Eclairs (used for éclairs, Paris–New York, and Swans) is not ideal for freezing before baking because the lines created by using the French star tip can be compromised when you wrap or cover the dough in order to freeze it.

 

Excerpted from Bouchon Bakery by Thomas Keller and Sebastien Rouxel (Artisian Books). Copyright © 2012