Forgive me waistline, but there is something about the sweet and salty combination of chocolate, caramel, and salted peanuts that some days I just can’t deny. If you are a regular reader of my recipes you might find this as a bit of departure from the usual light and healthy fare that features of Finger, Fork & Knife, but hey, what’s life without a bit of unadulterated decadence once in a while?
A classic chocolate glazed éclair might be enough for some people, but when I eat sweet pastries like this I figure you might as well go all out. So, in place of the traditional fillings, I went for a dark chocolate glaze, sprinkled with crushed chocolate and salted peanuts, and a caramel and peanut butter cream filling – a homage to one of the greatest chocolate bars, the Snickers.
This recipe requires a bit of patience as there are quite a few steps and so I would suggest it as more of a weekend baking project, but as you will discover, the results are well worth the effort!
For the choux pastry:
100g unsalted butter, roughly cubed
1 cup (150g) unbleached plain flour, sieved
4 free-range, organic eggs
For the caramel and peanut butter cream:
¾ cup (175g) caster sugar
¼ cup (60ml) water
1/3 cup (80ml) pouring cream
30g unsalted butter, roughly cubed
125g cream cheese, at room temperature
3 tbsp peanut butter
1/2 tsp milk
For the dark chocolate glaze:
½ cup (110g) caster sugar
150g dark chocolate (70%), roughly chopped
½ cup salted peanuts, crushed
50g dark chocolate (70%), crushed
Preheat oven to 220C
For peanut butter caramel cream, combine sugar and water in a saucepan, bring to the boil over medium-high heat. Gently swirl the pan to dissolve sugar and cook until a light golden colour (5 or so minutes). Add cream and butter and stir until dissolved (1 minute). Remove from heat and set aside to cool slightly.
Place cream cheese in the bowl of an electric mixer – this step can also be done using a hand mixer – add the peanut butter and milk and beat until well combined. Pour in the caramel and beat until light and creamy. Set aside.
For the pastry, combine butter and 125ml of water in a saucepan, bring to a simmer over high heat and cook until butter is melted. Add the flour, beating vigorously with a wooden spoon until the dough comes together and pulls away from the sides of the pan. Remove from the heat and transfer dough to a heatproof bowl, cool for 5 minutes.
Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Using a spatula, scoop the dough into a piping bag fitter with a 1.5cm nozzle and pipe 8cm lines of the dough on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Pop into the oven to bake for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, reduce the oven temperature to 180C and continue to cook until dry and light golden in colour (approx. 10 minutes). Let cool on a wire rack until completely cool, then halve horizontally with a sharp bread knife.
For the chocolate glaze, place sugar and 60ml of water in a saucepan, cook over medium-high heat until the sugar has dissolved, then cook for a further 10 minutes until light golden. Remove from heat, add chocolate and a tablespoon of water, return the pan to the heat and stir until smooth.
To assemble, carefully dip the top halves of the eclairs into the chocolate glaze, let the excess drip off, sprinkle with some crushed chocolate and peanuts and set aside until the glaze has set (5-10 minutes).
Spread the bottom halves of the pastry with some of the peanut caramel cream. Sprinkle with some crushed peanuts and chocolate. Top with the glazed éclair tops and gently press down.
Makes 15 éclairs