Christmas éclair tree

Christmas éclair tree

1
Preheat the oven to 170°C/gas mark 3
2
To make the choux pastry, add the butter, water, milk, salt and sugar to a pan over a high heat and bring to the boil
  • 50g of unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 4 tbsp of water
  • 4 tbsp of whole milk
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
3
Remove from the heat and add the flour. Using a wooden spoon, beat the mixture until smooth with no lumps
  • 100g of plain flour
4
Return the pan to the stove and cook out the flour over a medium heat, beating continuously. Once the mixture starts to come away from the edge of the pan, remove from the heat
5
Thoroughly beat in the eggs a little at a time. The mixture will look split, but keep mixing until smooth. Be careful not to add all the eggs or the mixture will become too runny. The choux should be able to support its own weight
  • 4 eggs, beaten
6
Scrape the choux paste into a large piping bag fitted with a 1.5cm fluted nozzle. Leave the mixture to cool for 5 minutes
7
Line 2 baking trays with greaseproof paper and measure the lines for the éclair Christmas tree. Using a pencil and starting at the base of the tray, draw a 30cm long straight line, followed by a 27cm straight line 5cm above
8
Reduce by 3cm each time until you have a total of 10 lines - with a gap of 5cm between each line, using the second tray when you run out of space. Carefully pipe the pastry down each line, as straight as possible
9
Using the remaining pastry, pipe circles (2.5cm in diameter) onto any space on the baking tray. Make sure you pipe one larger circle (5cm) to make the 'trunk'. The rest of the circles will be used to decorate the tree
10
Bake the éclairs in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes, or until golden-brown. Then, transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool
11
For the crème patisière, beat the eggs and caster sugar until pale and smooth. Add the flour and cornflour, whisk to combine and set aside
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 65g of caster sugar
  • 15g of plain flour
  • 15g of cornflour
12
Heat the milk, vanilla, allspice, cinnamon and orange zest in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Bring to the boil and then remove from the heat. Leave to cool and infuse for 5 minutes
  • 350ml of whole milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla essence, or extract
  • 1/2 tsp allspice powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 orange, zest only
13
Gradually, pour half of the hot milk over the egg mixture, whisking continuously, then pour the mixture back into the pan with the other half of the hot milk
14
Bring to the boil, whisking continuously, and then turn down the heat and simmer for 2 minutes. The mixture should be smooth, thick and glossy
15
Pour into a large bowl and cover with cling film - so that it is directly in contact with the custard. This will ensure a skin does not form. Set the bowl over a bowl of iced water until cool, then store in the fridge
16
Once both the éclairs and custard are cool, use a 1cm nozzle to puncture 4 holes along the base of the 4 largest éclairs, 3 holes on the next three largest, 2 in the next largest and 1 hole in each of the remaining 2
17
Pipe the spiced custard into each hole, including the extra small balls, to evenly fill. Do not force the mixture in as it may break the pastry. Set aside while you make the ganache
18
For the ganache, add cream to a small saucepan over a medium heat and bring to a simmer. Then, pour in the chocolate chips and leave to stand until the chocolate softens, approximately 5 minutes
  • 40ml of double cream
  • 100g of dark chocolate chips
19
Add the softened butter and stir until smooth and glossy. Spoon into a piping bag with a flat nozzle and run the ganache down the length of each éclair - there should be plenty leftover for the next step - and place to one side to set
  • 50g of butter, very soft
20
Dust a suitable chopping board with icing sugar. To build the trunk, pipe a little ganache in the centre and at the base of the board, place the large profiterole on top
  • 1 tsp icing sugar, for dusting
21
Pipe small dots of ganache on the board to use as a glue to hold the éclair tree in place. Starting with the largest éclair (30cm), continue to lay down all 10 éclairs until the tree is built
22
Decorate the tree with the small profiteroles, hundreds and thousands, edible glitter and stars - you can also use inedible decorations and tinsel. Dust with a little extra icing sugar and serve

Ingredients

Metric

Imperial

Choux pastry

  • 4 tbsp of water
  • 4 tbsp of whole milk
  • 50g of unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 100g of plain flour
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tsp icing sugar, for dusting

Spiced custard filling

Chocolate ganache

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