Monday, November 19, 2012

Apple Pie Eclairs with Caramel Glaze

by Darla

I have a love/hate relationship with the holiday season, and it has nothing to do with overeating, gift anxiety, commercialization of Christmas, or any of the typical holiday woes.

It’s all to do with “limited edition” seasonal flavors.

Every, single restaurant, candy company, and treat manufacturer out there decides that the holidays are the time for the very best flavors they could possibly make, in the cutest packaging ever.

And then they take it all away on January first.

Not cool.

A prime example is Starbucks. Thanks, a lot, ‘bucks, for the amazingness that is gingerbread anything from you guys, and for the straight up withdrawals I’ll be going through in about two months time. Totally awesome.

Then, there’s Junior Mints Peppermint Crunch candy. Have you had this stuff?? I’m torn between recommending it and telling you to run, far and fast, in the opposite direction if you see it, because it’s clearly filled with crack.

I first had these little babies about four years ago. I devoured them in about five minutes, and then couldn’t find anymore again until the next year. It was like torture. And when we lived in St. Croix, I couldn’t get them at all (make that double for Starbucks and anything else good).

Understandably, when I came across them at Target the other day, I bought five boxes. I deserve an award for not buying every box they had.

Well, folks, today, I’ll be adding to your seasonal woes. If you can’t beat them, join them, and all that.

These apple pie eclairs are made using a limited edition flavor mix from Duncan Hines, that you can only get during the holiday season. And they’re ridiculously delicious, so you’re welcome for the torture.

I’ve made pÃ¥te à choux a couple of times before, and both times, I’ve talked about how easy it is. Just in case you didnt believe on both of those occasions, let me remind you again: this is stuff is stupid easy to make. Period.

You’re going to melt some stuff, stir in some other stuff, and cook it for a minute or so.  There will be a fine film of dough on the bottom of the pan (pictured above) when it’s ready.

Now all you have to do is transfer the dough to the bowl of a standing mixer and beat on medium speed for about a minute to cool it. Then, beat in some lightly beaten eggs. Done.

At this point, the batter should pass the “string test.” Pinch a small amount of batter between your thumb and fore or middle finger, then pull apart. The batter should stretch into an elastic string. If it doesn’t, beat another egg in a small bowl and slowly add a little bit at a time until the batter passes the string test.

To make eclairs, line a baking sheet with Silpat mats or parchment paper, and fill a pastry bag fitted with a large round tip with the pÃ¥te à choux. You can also use a zip top bag with the corner snipped off, but be sure to make the hole rather large (at least 3/4-inch across), but I honestly hate doing it that way, because you have far less control. However, if you don’t have a large piping tip, then the zip top bag will work.

Pipe straight lines of batter, about four inches long, one inch wide, and about half an inch high, about two inches apart on your prepared baking sheets.

Now, just bake these as directed below, and…

…TA-DA! Pretty little eclair shells, waiting in a row. :)

For my filling, I decided to try out one of Duncan Hines new Frosting Creations flavor mixes that they have made specifically for the holidays. With Thanksgiving in just a couple of days, you know I had to go for the apple pie flavoring. After all, what’s Thanksgiving without pie, and lots of it, and pie flavored things, while we’re at it?

I haven’t tried the Frosting Creations before, because I make all of my frostings from scratch, but it occurred to me that they don’t just have to be for frosting. After trying this one out here, and having so much success with it, though, I am really excited to try the rest of them!

The flavoring itself is a very fine powder, and looked just like cinnamon when I added it to my eclair filling.

When I first started whisking it in, I got really worried, becuase it was very splotchy, and didn’t seem to want to mix entirely, but I sat the filling down on the counter to grab something else, and when I came bak to give it a final stir…

…all of the remaining flavoring dissolved away perfectly. Well played, Duncan Hines. :)

Alright, it worked smoothly and perfectly in my filling, even though it isn’t frosting, but how is the flavor? It’s great! It’s like cinnamon-y apple pie flavor in pastry cream. Amazing.

They must have wizards working at Duncan Hines. Truly, Hogwarts graduates are among us, people.

Now that the filling is an apple pie success, it’s time to add it to our eclairs.

Fit a pastry bag with a Wilton #7 tip (or comparable), press the pastry tip into the bottom of the eclair, about one inch from one end, and squeeze the cream into the eclair until you feel it push back against the tip. Repeat the step at the opposite end of the eclair until the cream just starts to come out of the other hole.

I topped my eclairs with a sweet and easy caramel glaze that only has three ingredients. And one of them is water. You’re welcome.

Then, I served them with heaps of vanilla ice cream, just like a slice of apple pie.

These eclairs were wildly popular with my boys, and the kiddo’s friends. All the goodness of apple pie, with less work, and less time. What’s not to love?

These are so delicious and fun, they would be a perfect Thanksgiving morning breakfast treat, or an instant hit on the dessert table. The filling is the perfect amount of cool sweetness to compliment the simple, slightly spiced pastry dough, and the caramel glaze tops everything off just right.

Enjoy!

Apple Pie Eclairs
Makes about 2 dozen 4-inch eclairs

Ingredients

FOR THE DOUGH (PATE A CHOUX)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 eggs

FOR THE FILLING (**To save time, you can totally substitute one 3.4 ounce package vanilla instant pudding**)
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 egg
2 egg yolks
6 tablespoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 packet Duncan Hines Apple Pie Frosting Creations Flavor Mix

FOR THE GLAZE
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
3/4 cup caramel  sauce
2 to 4 teaspoons water

To make the påte à choux: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpat mats.

In a small bowl, combine the flour, sugar, and cinnamon; set aside.

In a medium sauce pan set over medium heat, combine the butter, water, and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the butter is evenly melted. Once the butter is melted, bring the mixture to a boil. Remove from heat and add the flour, stirring well with a wooden spoon until the mixture forms a dough.

Return the pan to the heat and cook, while stirring, for another minute. There will be a fine film of dough on the bottom of the pan.

Transfer the dough to the bowl of a standing mixer and beat on medium speed for about a minute to cool it. In a small bowl, beat the eggs thoroughly. With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs in three additions, mixing well between each addition. Once all of the eggs are added, stop the mixer and scrape the bowl, then mix for another 30 seconds to combine the mixture thoroughly.

At this point, the batter should pass the “string test.” Pinch a small amount of batter between your thumb and fore- or middle finger, then pull apart. The batter should stretch into an elastic string. If it doesn’t, beat another egg in a small bowl and slowly add a little bit at a time until the batter passes the string test.

Fill a pastry bag fitted with a large round tip with the påte à choux. Pipe straight lines of batter about 4-inches long, by 1-inch wide, by 1/2-inch high onto the prepared baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches between each one.

Bake the eclairs for 20 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 degrees and rotate the pans from top to bottom and front to back. Bake for another 20 minutes. Finally, reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees and bake for 10 minutes more, until the eclairs are golden brown. Transfer the eclairs to a wire cooling rack and allow them to cool before filling and glazing.

To make the filling: In a medium saucepan set over medium high heat, bring the milk just to a boil, remove from heat. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg, egg yolks, sugar, and cinnamon until combined. Thoroughly whisk in the flour until the mixture is smooth. In a slow, steady stream, and whisking constantly, add about half of the milk into the egg mixture. Slowly pour the egg mixture into the pan with the remaining milk and whisk well to combine. Whisking constantly, bring the mixture to a boil and cook for about a minute to thicken. Remove from heat and whisk in the butter and vanilla until combined. Strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer into a medium bowl.

Cover the cream with plastic wrap, pressing the plastic to the surface of the cream. Place the pastry cream in the refrigerator and chill for about 30 minutes, or until it is room temperature or slightly cooler. Stir in the apple pie flavoring until completely dissolved.

Fill the eclairs: Fit a pastry bag with a Wilton #7 tip (or comparable) and fill the bag with the cream. Press the pastry tip into the bottom of the eclair, about 1-inch from one end, and squeeze the cream into the eclair until you feel it push back against the tip. Repeat the step at the opposite end of the eclair until the cream just starts to come out of the other hole. See illustration above, if necessary.

To make the glaze: In a small bowl, whisk together the confectioners’ sugar and caramel with 1 teaspoon of water. Add more water until the glaze comes together smoothly. The glaze should be smooth and slightly runny. Don’t add too much water; if it is too runny, it will run off of the eclairs.

Gripping the filled eclair by it’s base, gently dip the top half of the eclairs into the glaze and allow the excess to drip off before returning the eclairs to the cooling racks or cool baking sheets. Allow the glaze to dry for 15 to 20 minutes before serving.

Recipes by Darla

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{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

1 bianca @ sweet dreaming November 19, 2012 at 9:37 am

these look amazing!!

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2 sara November 19, 2012 at 9:58 am

A totally inspired idea-these eclairs sound absolutely incredible, yum! :)

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3 Erica November 19, 2012 at 10:10 am

Very creative idea!

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4 Karly November 19, 2012 at 10:17 am

Um, yes. I think I have a packet of that caramel creation stuff sitting in my pantry just waiting to be used on these eclairs. You’re sort of a genius.

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5 Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar November 19, 2012 at 10:20 am

These sound so awesome! Loooove this idea. And I’m with you – limited editions need to turn to permanent editions!

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6 Tina @ Sugar Bean Bakers November 19, 2012 at 10:49 am

DO WANT.

These look incredible!

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7 Tina @ Sugar Bean Bakers November 19, 2012 at 10:50 am

oh yummy we don’t get that mix here, I bought a few in the states and cannot find them for the life of me!

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8 christina @ ovenadventures November 19, 2012 at 10:55 am

these look great. i made pate a choux once and your way seems a lot less complicated. nicely played.

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9 Amber (Sprinkled With Flour) November 19, 2012 at 12:15 pm

I’m not a big eclair fan, but the apple pie flavor of these sounds so good!

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10 Becca - Cookie Jar Treats November 19, 2012 at 12:41 pm

These are absolutely adorable! I love the little piped design on top. Very cute. And yes, I agree, I hate how some things are limited edition, but in a way it’s a good thing because then you remember why you loved it in the first place after not having it for 9 or 10 months.

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11 Lisa {Sweet 2 Eat Baking} November 19, 2012 at 3:49 pm

Oh Darla, these are amazing! Apple pie eclairs? Is there anything you can’t do?! I’ve made choux pastry a couple of times too and thought it was so easy, I even did it by hand and I’m arthritic! LOL.

I was getting all excited to make this but we don’t get those Duncan Hines mixes here in the UK. I just need to figure out how to flavour this to apple pie some other way.

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12 leslie November 19, 2012 at 5:10 pm

I am not to fond of Eclairs…but fill them with your filling and I am ALLLLL over them!

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13 Anna November 19, 2012 at 8:24 pm

:( Sad We do not get these icing flavourings in Australia that I can find… although if anyone knows where to find them PLEASE share

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14 Emily ~So Domesticated~ November 19, 2012 at 8:51 pm

I heart eclairs… these look delectable!

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15 Jocelyn @BruCrew Life November 19, 2012 at 9:34 pm

Those frosting mixes are pure genius…I bought a few over the summer to “try out”. I was way impressed at the flavor and consistency. What a fantastic idea to put it into an eclair…yours look so easy and totally delicious!!!!

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16 michelle November 20, 2012 at 5:19 am

they are so pretty!

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17 shelly (cookies and cups) November 20, 2012 at 5:53 am

That Apple Pie flavor packet is really good..but I feel the same way about the seasonal flavors! SO frustrating!

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18 Emma November 20, 2012 at 1:09 pm

Where DO seasonal flavors go during the off season? Is it just to a back closet? Or is it somewhere more exotic… like a cruise of the Norwegian fjords?

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19 Gemma November 22, 2012 at 2:11 pm

Your eclairs look fabulous! My sister loves them and I’m sure once I show her your recipe she’ll instantly ask me to bake some for her! Hope mine turn out as cute and tempting as yours! I love the cute detail of the green colored little swirls on the top. :-)
Happy Thanksgiving!

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20 Lori @ RecipeGirl November 24, 2012 at 6:16 am

Oh. My. Goodness! These look perfect to eat this weekend to continue the carb overload! They’re seriously delicious-looking!

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21 kita November 25, 2012 at 10:50 am

I kind of like seasonal flavors. Only because it forces me to get up and try one. If they were there all year long my astonishing laziness would rule out and I would never try anything new. ;)

These apple pie eclairs look absolutely dangerous.

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