Truffle Eclairs with Salted Caramel

My propensity for sweet things may be apparent by now. I eat vegetables A) because they're full of all that healthy stuff and B) because I really want to enjoy dessert when I eat it. If not for these two things I'd be on an all-chocolate diet. Luckily for me this is a dessert with vegetables in it (yeah, I know, truffles as a vegetable is a bit of a stretch).

Truffle Eclaire with Salted Caramel

Ingredients

Dough:

1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp whole milk

1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp water

7 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes

1 tsp sugar

1/4 tsp sea salt

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

4 large eggs at room temperature

Filling:

1 1/2 cups whole milk

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup flour

1/4 tsp salt

4 egg yolks

25 grams of black winter truffles, finely grated

Caramel:

2 cups sugar

1/2 water

generous pinch of sea salt

 


Directions

Dough:

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Line two baking trays with parchment paper.

Making choux pastry requires some elbow grease and quick succession of steps, so get your ingredients lined up and mentally prepare yourself for some serious mixing. Heat the milk, water, butter, sugar, and salt in a heavy-bottom pan. The butter needs to melt before the liquid comes to a boil, so make sure you adjust the temperature as needed. Once boiling, immediately dump in all of the flour. Now start mixing like crazy with a wooden spoon. You're going to end up with a thick paste, at which point you want to reduce the heat to medium low. Keep stirring vigorously for another minute. Don't worry about the film forming on the bottom of the pan, but adjust the temperature to prevent burning.

Transfer the dough to a stand mixer and beat for 30 seconds to remove steam and lower the temperature. Then add in the eggs one at a time, mixing well between each addition so the dough comes back together. After the fourth egg beat until a shiny dough forms and then for an extra 15 seconds for good measure.

Immediately pipe the dough into either 5" long tubes for eclairs or small domes for cream puffs. Either way, use a wet finger to smooth out any rough spots. Bake for 25 minutes and then remove from the oven and, using a small pairing knife, cut a slit in the side of each one. Return to the oven for a further 10 minutes or until the puffs are well dried out. Turn off the oven and prop the door open with a wooden spoon to allow the eclairs to cool completely.

Filling:

Heat the milk in a heavy-bottom saucepan (don't be doing anything crazy like boiling it).

Mix the sugar, flour, and salt in a bowl and then whisk in the egg yolks. Really important to make sure it's all well combined here. Then slowly start adding in the warm milk. Just do a little bit at a time here because the worst case scenario is cooking the eggs into scramble. Whisk constantly until you've added in all of the milk.

Return the whole thing to the pot from whence it came. Over medium-low heat keep on whisking until you've reached a pudding like consistency. When large bubbles start forming on the surface and popping go for a couple of seconds more and then pull it off the heat. Stir in the truffles (or vanilla bean if you don't happen to have truffles lying around) and transfer to a clean bowl. Press a piece of plastic wrap onto the surface to prevent gross skin from forming and refrigerate until needed. 

Caramel:

Place the sugar and water in a shallow saucepan and stir to combine. Cover and cook for 15-20 or until the caramel is amber in colour. Turn off the heat and let sit for a few minutes while it becomes the consistency of honey.

Assembly:

Push the tip of a piping bag into the hole previously made in the side of each eclair. Fill generously with pastry cream and place immediately on a serving plate. 

Working quickly so the caramel doesn't set too much, use a fork to drizzle caramel liberally over top (making fancy caramel wisps in the air if you so desire). While the caramel is still wet, sprinkle with flaky sea salt.

Serve immediately. Die a little from delight.