Rhubarb and Custard Eclairs

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It’s the right season for rhubarb, but unfortunately my chickens have annihilated my plant. Apparently chickens love rhubarb leaves (and no, they’re not poisonous to them thankfully!). As a result I’ve only managed to harvest a couple of measly stalks. Not enough for a crumble, but just enough for rhubarb and custard eclairs for tomorrow’s Contact the Elderly tea party.

First you’ll need to make a batch of choux pastry, pipe it into short lines well spaced on a greased baking sheet, and bake until golden, puffed up and dried out in the middle. Remember to prick them with a skewer as soon as they come out of the oven to release the steam and avoid the dreaded collapse. Choux deflation equals sheer frustration. Trust me, I’m talking from experience! You can find a basic choux recipe on my ‘Choux-laa-laa A Paris Brest of Sorts’ post.

Once the eclair cases are baked, use a knife to open them out and set aside ready for piping.

Next, I took the miniscule amount of rhubarb I had, put it in a pan with a few tablespoons of sugar (roughly 4 I think) and added some water.

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Poach until the stalks are tender.

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Then remove from the pan and place on some kitchen roll to dry out.

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Allow the syrup left in the pan to reduce for a few minutes bearing in mind you’ll need about 190mls of it.

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Once reduced, measure out 160mls of the syrup and pour into a pan along with 100g of custard powder. Whisk over a medium heat until the powder is cooked out. You’ll be left with an incredibly thick custard with a hint of rhubarb coming through. Set aside to cool. You could of course make a creme pat (recipe on here), but it’ll lack the rhubarb taste which is why I opted for custard powder.

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Now beat 125g mascarpone with 100ml double cream until combined. Once the custard has cooled down a bit, beat it into the cream/cheese mixture. It will take some working in so persevere. Once combined add in the cooled rhubarb, giving it a rough chop first.

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You’ll end up with a rhubarb flecked custard creation like this:

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Transfer it into a piping bag with a wide nozzle. I used this one:

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Time to start filling the pastry cases.

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Pipe a continuous circle swirl into the opened out eclair case to achieve a pretty effect like so:

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Once they’re all filled, take the remaining rhubarb syrup (there should be around 30mls) and whisk it into icing sugar, adding more sugar until you have a thick consistency.

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Pipe it on top of the eclairs using whichever nozzle you fancy. Refrigerate until you’re ready to serve.

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And there you have it. A twist on the classic cream and chocolate combo. Enjoy!

Choux-laa-laa… A Paris-Brest of sorts.

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The iconic Paris-Brest dessert was created in honour of the Paris to Brest bike race which started in 1891. Circular in shape to represent a bicycle tyre, and typically filled with a praline cream, this choux pastry sensation can still be found in patisseries all over France. There’s an incredible garden centre near us which makes amazing cakes and pastries, my favourite of which is a Coffee Renoir, which they make in the same shape as a Paris-Brest. It’s filled with pastry cream and whipped cream, then doused in coffee icing and almonds. I’m a sucker for anything with creme pat in it, so thought I’d have a go at recreating it at home. Granted, my bike tyre looks like it has a puncture, but hey ho, looks aren’t everything!

For the choux pastry you’ll need:
130g plain flour
2 teaspoons of caster sugar
100g butter
4 free range eggs beaten
240ml water

Put the butter and water in a pan and heat until it starts to simmer. At this point dump in all the flour and sugar and beat hard with a wooden spoon. If your bingo wings aren’t flapping you’re not beating hard enough!

The dough will form a smooth ball. Leave to cool until it’s tepid then drizzle in the beaten eggs a bit at a time beating hard again until the egg is incorporated before adding more. You should end up with a glossy paste. Put it in a piping bag and pipe a circle on a well greased baking sheet. Pipe another circle touching the inside of the first one, then a third one on top of the first two.

Bake at 210oC for 15 minutes, then, without opening the oven door turn the temperature down to 180oC and bake for a further 15-20 minutes until crisp and golden. Remove from the oven and immediately poke repeatedly with a skewer to let the hot air escape and avoid the dreading shrinking choux.

When cool enough to handle carefully slice into two halves and allow to cool completely.
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Now, as I mentioned earlier I’m filling this with creme pat which will need to chill in the fridge for at least three hours (preferably longer), so you may want to bake it the day before. You’ll need:
750ml milk
1 vanilla pod, split, seeds scraped out.
150g caster sugar
6 free range egg yolks
60g cornflour

Heat the milk in a pan with the vanilla pod and seeds gently until it comes to a simmer. Meanwhile whisk the eggs and sugar together until light in colour then whisk in the cornflour. Sieve the milk mixture into a jug and pour half of it back into the pan. Slowly pour the remaining milk into the egg, sugar and cornflour mixture whisking continuously. Then pour the egg mixture back into the pan with the other half of the milk and whisk until it has thickened. Put into a clean bowl, cover with clingfilm and refrigerate.

Once it has chilled and set pipe it onto the bottom half of the choux circle.
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Now whip some cream with icing sugar to sweeten and a teaspoon of vanilla. The cream needs to hold its form, but be careful not to over whip. Pipe it on top of the creme pat.
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Put the top on and drizzle with coffee icing. To make the icing dissolve a heaped teaspoon of instant coffee in a tiny amount of boiling water to make a bit of a paste. Once cooled pour the paste a bit at a time into some sieved icing sugar. Taste. Add more sugar or coffee to taste. Pipe over the top and sprinkle with almond slices.
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