Is #TreatYourselfTuesday a thing yet? If not, it should be, and we have an epic mid-week treat for you to try: Strawberry-Amaretto Éclairs from Mon Cher Éclair ($13; amazon.com) by Charity Ferreira.
“These éclairs were inspired by the honey-almond nougat candy of Provence,” Ferreira writes. “They have a light, airy texture and a delicate strawberry-almond flavor that’s perfect for summer.” While it may not be beach season just yet, we’ve officially made it through February, and that’s definitely something to celebrate. Try the recipe below.
Makes about 20 éclairs
For the Pâte à Choux
1 cup plus 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 cup water
1/2/ cup unsalted butter, cut into chunks
For the Strawberry-Almond Filling
3 tbsp good-quality strawberry jam
2 ½ tbsp Amaretto or other almond liqueur
2 tbsp honey
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1¼ cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup crushed amaretti or almond meringue cookies ($16; deandeluca.com)
For the Vanilla Glaze
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and warm
1 tbsp light corn syrup
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
4 to 5 tsp hot water
1 or 2 drops pink food coloring ($2; globalsugarart.com)
1/4 cup sliced almonds (optional)
1. To make the pâte à choux: In a small bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, and salt. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, heat the water and butter. When the butter is melted, bring the mixture to a simmer. Remove the pan from the heat and add the flour mixture. Stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until the mixture comes together in a smooth mass. Return the pan to low heat and cook the mixture for 1½ to 2 minutes, stirring continuously to keep it from scorching. Remove the pan from the heat and let the mixture cool for 5 minutes.
2. Add one egg and mix vigorously with the wooden spoon until it is incorporated. The mixture will look separated and curdled after you add the egg, but don’t be deterred! Just keep mixing, and it will come together smoothly. Add the remaining eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. After the fourth egg, you will have a smooth, shiny pâte à choux mixture. Beat the mixture vigorously for a few seconds after the last egg is incorporated.
3. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
4. Spoon the pâte à choux into a pastry bag fitted with a plain ¾-inch tip. Holding the tip at a 45-degree angle to the baking sheet, pipe batons that are about ¾ inches wide and 4 inches long, leaving 1 to 1½ inches of space between them.
5. Bake for 15 minutes, then lower the oven temperature to 375°F (keep the oven door open for 3 to 5 seconds to bring down the oven temperature; if you’re baking two sheets at once, switch their position in the oven) and bake for another 15 minutes.
6. Using a paring knife, prick each shell several times close to the bottom along one side. Return the shells to the oven and bake for another 10 minutes to dry out the eggy insides. Allow the shells to stand at room temperature until they are cool to the tough. You can leave them on the baking sheet, or, if you prefer, you can transferal them to a wire cooling rack.
7. To make the filling: Place a mixing bowl in the freezer for a few minutes. In a small bowl, stir together the jam, Amaretto, honey, and vanilla. Set aside.
8. In the chilled mixing bowl, with a mixer on high speed, whip the cream until soft peaks form. Slowly add the jam mixture and continue to whip until stiff, smooth peaks form. Using a flexible spatula, gently fold in the crushed cookies. Place the filling in the refrigerator while you make the glaze.
9. To make the glaze: In a shallow bowl that is wide enough to dip an éclair, whisk the melted butter, corn syrup, powdered sugar, and vanilla until smooth. Whisk in the water and food coloring until you get a good glazing consistency. It should be fluid but thick enough to coat the tops of the éclairs with a thin opaque coating. (If it’s too thick, stir in hot water, ½ tsp at a time, until it thins out. If it’s too thin, stir in a little more powdered sugar.)
10. Cut the cooled éclair shells in half horizontally. Spoon the fillings into each bottom half. Dip the top half in the glaze, allowing the excess to drip back into the bowl. Place the glazed top on the filled bottom. Repeat to fill and glaze the remaining éclairs. Sprinkle the sliced almonds (if using) over the filled éclairs while the glaze is still soft.
11. Refrigerate to set the glaze, about 10 minutes, then serve. Or, refrigerate, covered loosely with plastic wrap, for up to 1 day; the éclairs will taste best if you let them stand at room temperature for about 15 minutes before serving.