It would be easy enough to say that I made éclairs à la framboise because Valentine's Day is this week. All anyone needs to do is look at them to agree that Valentine's is the perfect time to bake and devour this pink pastry.
But it actually had more to do with the dismal weather we've been experiencing here in Saint Paul, Minnesota. It started with the Polar Vortex. The cold was a challenge for anyone heading outdoors, but especially difficult for my French Bulldog, Bisous. I never let him outdoors during the extreme cold unless I accompanied him; a good decision after our first time out together in the backyard. After two minutes, his feet were already so cold that he fell sideways and couldn't walk. I scooped up that 30 pound "little man" and ran like hell towards the house. Since then, it seems like every other day we've had ice or snow, or both.
We've also been dealing with a very sick, little granddaughter for the past 10 days. Liv is my culinary dream child... she loves everything that comes out of my kitchen. But there were several days she wasn't able to eat, and when she finally did start feeling better I wanted to take her something special. When I saw this New York Times recipe for raspberry eclairs, I knew immediately we all needed this colorful pastry!
Raspberry and Cream Éclairs
by Samantha Seneviratne | New York Times Cooking
recipe slightly adapted
FOR THE RASPBERRY CREAM:
• 1 tablespoon cold water
• 1 teaspoon gelatin
• 1 1/2 cups fresh raspberries
• 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
• 3 tablespoons honey
• 2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
• 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 1/2 cup freeze-dried raspberries (found at Trader Joe's), ground to a fine powder
• 3/4 cup heavy cream
FOR THE PUFFS:
• 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
• 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
• 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
• 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
• 3 large eggs
FOR THE GLAZE:
• 1 cup fresh raspberries
• 2 cups confectioners' sugar
• 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
• pinch of kosher salt
1. Make the raspberry cream: Add 1 tablespoon cold water to a small bowl; sprinkle the gelatin evenly on top. Let the mixture stand for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, smash 1/2 cup fresh raspberries in a large bowl. Add the cream cheese, honey, confectioners' sugar, vanilla and half of the freeze-dried raspberry powder and beat with a wooden spoon until smooth and creamy. Set aside.
2. Heat 1/4 cup heavy cream in a small saucepan over medium-high. Stir in the gelatin mixture and cook until the gelatin is completely dissolved, about 3 minutes. Set aside to cool slightly, then stir into the cream cheese mixture until combined. Cover and chill for at least 30 minutes.
3. Prepare the puffs: In a medium saucepan, bring the butter, granulated sugar, salt and 3/4 cup water to a simmer over medium heat, stirring with a wooden spoon to help the butter melt. As soon as it comes to a boil, add all the flour at once; stir constantly until the dough forms a ball and pulls away from the sides of the pan, about 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat and let the mixture cool for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring the dough occasionally to cool.
4. Heat oven to 450˚F. Off the heat, add the eggs to the pan, one at a time, stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon (this can also be done in a stand mixer using the paddle attachment). The dough will break apart and slide around in the pot before it comes back together. Transfer the dough to a piping bag fitted with a large round or star tip.
5. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper (it helps to place a small dot of the pastry dough on the back of each corner to help secure the parchment to the baking sheet). Pipe the dough into 4 1/2-inch-by 3/4-inch lengths about 3 inches apart. With a damp fingertip, flatten any points. Bake until deep golden brown and puffed, rotating the sheets halfway through, 20 to 24 minutes. They should be light and crisp. Turn the oven off. Poke each éclair on either end with a toothpick to allow steam to escape. Return the puffs to the oven and prop the oven door open slightly with the handle of a wooden spoon. Alow the puffs to dry out completely, about 15 minutes.
6 Prepare the glaze: Mash the fresh raspberries and push them through a fine-mesh sieve, reserving all the juice and discarding the seeds. Add the confectioners' sugar, vanilla and salt to the reserved juice and whisk until smooth.
7. Finely chop the remaining 1 cup fresh raspberries. Whip the remaining 1/2 cup cream to soft peaks. Gently stir the chilled raspberry cream to loosen it, then fold in the raspberries and whipped cream. Transfer the cream to a pastry bag fitted with a large tip. Slice the top third off each éclair and fill the lower portion with cream. Dip the top of the top piece in the glaze, letting any excess drip off, and replace it. Sprinkle with the remaining raspberry powder. Serve immediately. Éclairs are best eaten the day they are made, but if there are leftovers, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.