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Christmas Eclairs with Orange Crème Diplomate

Christmas Eclair picked up by a hand over a small white plate.
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Alternative Christmas desserts are what we are all about this year! Not that we don’t like a boozy Christmas Pudding or a buttery Mince Pie (we do! we really really do!), but we do enjoy something different every Christmas, and this year it’s a brand new bake for us – our Christmas Eclairs with Orange Creme Diplomate and Cranberry & Pistachio Topping! Try it! It’s a lovely dessert for Christmas Eve or Boxing Day lunch to keep the Christmas theme going!

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Our Secrets To A Perfect Eclair

  • Use strong bread flour with higher gluten content for the best results. We find that more gluten helps the eclairs help their shape better when piped, producing less flat eclair shells.
  • Add the flour in the go (known as, shoot the flour) and stir vigorously and continuously. This will ensure smooth pastry without lumps of dry flour.
  • Make sure to cool the flour mixture slightly before adding the eggs. If you add them in too soon, they will scramble, and unfortunately, there’s no fix for them – you will just have to start again.
  • Don’t add all the eggs at once. Add them gradually, so you can judge how much you’ll actually need. When the choux pastry is ready to be piped, it will be thin enough that a large spoonful will fall heavily from the spoon in one lump, but thick enough that it doesn’t slide off easily. Another way to test it is a reverse C shape (this method is used by one of our favourite blogs – A Baking Journey). Dip a finger into the Choux Pastry and then flip your finger so it’s facing up in a swift motion. When ready, the pastry should fall back slowly and create a reverse C.
  • Bake immediately after you piped your eclairs. Otherwise, they will start forming a crust and won’t puff up as much.
  • Make sure to let the steam out of the baked eclairs by piercing a small hole and returning them to the oven. This step is important for crisping them up.
  • Don’t pipe the filling into your eclairs before they are completely cooled down.
  • Fill and glaze your eclairs on the same day that you want to serve them to ensure the best texture.
Filled, glazed and topped eclairs on a wire rack.

Do You Need Steam in The Oven For Eclairs?

Back in July this year, my father-in-law and I had a bit of a competition going on in the kitchen. My father-in-law was perfecting his profiteroles for a piece monte for a very special event and we put both of our efforts together to make the best choux buns ever made. We used the same Pâte à Choux, that we made using a combination of two recipes from an old French cookbook and a cooking bible Gastronomique, but we split it into two batches. I cooked my batch with steam in the oven, hoping they’d rise better, whilst Seb’s dad stuck to his guns and cooked them the way he did it all of his life – no steam, relying on the butter and water in the mixture to do the work in making the buns rise.

My father-in-law won the competition! No steam was needed, and his oven wasn’t even on the right setting for the first 5 minutes of the baking. But his buns were better! You will find lots of recipes using steam to make choux buns and eclairs and I am sure there’s a science to that, but I can only speak from my personal experience – choux pastry rose just a little bit better without the steam in our experiment! And that’s why I am not telling you to spray the trays with water or place an ovenproof dish with water in the oven for cooking your Christmas eclair shells.

Christmas Eclairs on a wire rack with christmas ribbons around it.

Christmas Eclair Flavours

Back to Christmas! I have been harnessing the idea of making Christmas-flavoured eclairs since summer. I was thinking about a Christmas pudding-flavoured version and also an eclair with cranberry cream filling. Then one autumn day I had a taste of a beautiful cranberry tart with orange custard and I knew these would be the favours in my Christmas Eclairs. Instead of using just whipped cream or custard for the eclair filling, I decided to make Orange Creme Diplomate, which combines the two!

Step-by-Step Method

Step 1: Make Choux Pastry

In a large pan, heat the water, butter and salt until the butter has melted. As soon as the liquid boils, tip in all the flour in one go. Remove the pan from the heat and beat vigorously with a wooden spoon until the mixture comes together into a cohesive paste.

Put the pan back on low heat and keep on beating the dough. It should become glossy and come away from the sides of the pan. Take it off the heat and leave it to cool down for 10 minutes.

In the meantime, preheat the oven to 200°C Fan. Line a large baking sheet with baking parchment (we recommend Bacofoil Baking Parchment).

Once the dough has cooled down slightly, gradually add the beaten eggs into the dough, beating vigorously after each addition. Keep on adding the egg bit by bit until you have a shiny, thick, pipeable batter that holds shape when piped. When enough egg has been added, it will be thin enough that a large spoonful will fall heavily from the spoon in one lump, but thick enough that it doesn’t slide off easily.

Step 2: Piping Eclairs

Scrape the choux pastry into a piping bag fitted with a 1 1/4 cm plain nozzle. Pipe 12 eclair shells (about 10cm in length) on a baking parchment-lined baking sheet leaving 5 cm in between them, as they will puff up heaps.

Step 3: Bake Eclair Shells

Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes. Without opening the door, reduce the temperature to 160°C and carry on cooking for another 10-12 minutes.

Remove the eclairs from the oven and using a sharp knife, pierce a small hole in the side of each eclair to allow the steam to escape. Return eclairs to the oven and bake for another 3-4 minutes to dry them out and crisp up (it’s important that you dry them out as you will reintroduce moisture with the creme diplomate filling later). Remove the crisp eclair shells from the oven and transfer them to a wire rack to cool.

Eclair shells on a baking parchemtn lined sheet.

Step 4: Make the Orange Crème Diplomate

Beat the egg yolks, caster sugar and cornflour in a heatproof bowl.

Add the milk and vanilla paste to a small saucepan and heat right up to the boiling point. Immediately remove from the heat and gradually add to the egg mixture, whisking vigorously to avoid the eggs scrambling.

Return the custard to the pan, add the juice of an orange and, whisking all the time, heat on medium-high heat until it starts to boil and thickens. The consistency should be that of the custard you get in the tins and you should have about 350g of it at this point. If using orange extract, stir it in now. Remove from the heat, transfer the custard to a bowl and cover it with cling film placed directly onto the surface of the custard to prevent a skin from forming. Once it’s cooled down to room temperature, refrigerate the custard for at least an hour.

Place the double cream, zest of an orange and orange extract into a large bowl and whisk to soft peaks. Fold the cream into the cooled orange custard and place it into a piping bag fitted with a small diameter nozzle and refrigerate until you are ready to fill your Christmas eclairs.

Step 5: Filling Eclair Shells With Creme Diplomate

Once the eclair shells are at room temperature, pipe the filling into the shells through the hole previously made to let the steam out. If you pipe the filling whilst eclairs are still warm, it will run out, so be patient. Here you have it – your orange eclairs are ready to be glazed and topped with cranberries and pistachios!

Eclair shells cooking on a wire rack.

Step 6: Make the Topping

For the icing, add water (2-3 tbsp) to the fondant icing sugar. You may choose to add food colouring to this. We personally prefer just a thin icing layer (we find that too much of it will make eclairs too sweet and other flavours get a little lost, so we make the icing rather thin, creating a translucent frosted effect).

You may choose to pipe the filling (if yours is on the thick side) or simply smear it on with a pallet knife. Before the icing sets, scatter the pistachios and dried cranberries on top and leave to set for 30 minutes before serving!

half of the Christmas Eclairs with sugar glaze only, another half with the cranberry and pistachio topping on them as well. All on a wir rack.

Recipe FAQs

What’s The Difference Between an Eclair and a Profiterole?

Eclairs and Profiteroles are both pastries made out of Pate a Choux, but the main difference between the two is their shape. Eclairs are piped into a thin long shape, and profiteroles are small round balls of choux.

Can Eclairs Be Made Ahead Of Time?

Christmas eclairs are best served on the day that they are filled and glazed. Orange Creme Diplomate and the icing will introduce moisture into the choux pastry which will make it soggy over time. However, you can make the eclair shells a day before, then crisp them up again in the oven for a few minutes. Don’t forget to cool them down again before filling them though.

Should Eclairs Be Soft Or Crunchy?

The eclair shells should be crunchy, but the filling and icing on top will make them softer with time. It is advisable to serve your Christmas Eclairs as soon as the icing has set on them, so your eclairs are not completely soft.


Alternative Christmas Desserts To Try

For other Christmas baking and dessert ideas, have a look at some of our favourite recipes below:

Recipe Card

Christmas Eclair picked up by a hand over a small white plate.

Christmas Eclairs with Orange Crème Diplomat and Cranberry & Pistachio Topping

Alternative Christmas desserts are what we are all about this year! Not that we don't like a boozy Christmas Pudding or a buttery Mince Pie (we do! we really really do!), but we do enjoy something different every Christmas, and this year it's a brand new bake for us – our Christmas Eclairs with Orange Crème Diplomat and Cranberry & Pistachio Topping! Try it! It's a lovely dessert for Christmas Eve or Boxing Day lunch to keep the Christmas theme going!
5 from 10 votes
Prep Time 50 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 1 hr 5 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine Christmas, French
Servings 10 eclairs
Calories 270 kcal

Equipment

Ingredients
 
 

For the Choux Pastry:

  • 40 g unsalted butter diced
  • 120 ml water
  • 65 g strong white flour sifted
  • 2 eggs beaten

For the Orange Creme Patissiere:

  • 1 tsp vanilla paste
  • 300 ml whole milk
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 70 g caster sugar
  • 20 g cornflour
  • 150 ml double cream
  • 1 orange juice and rest
  • tsp orange extract

For the Topping:

  • 125 g fondant icing sugar sifted
  • 1½-2 tbsp water
  • 30 g pistachio kernels roughly chopped
  • 30 g dried cranberries roughly chopped

Instructions
 

To Make Choux Pastry:

  • In a large pan, heat the water, butter and salt until the butter has melted. As soon as the liquid boils, tip in all the flour in one go. Remove the pan from the heat and beat vigorously with a wooden spoon until the mixture comes together into a cohesive paste.
  • Put the pan back on low heat and keep on beating the dough. It should become glossy and come away from the sides of the pan. Take it off the heat and leave to cool down for 10 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 200C Fan. Line a large baking sheet with baking parchment.
  • Once the dough has cooled down slightly, gradually add the beaten eggs into the dough, beating vigorously after each addition. Keep on adding the egg bit by bit until you have a shiny, thick, pipeable batter that holds shape when piped. When enough egg has been added, it will be thin enough that a large spoonful will fall heavily from the spoon in one lump, but thick enough that it doesn't slide off easily.
  • Scrape the choux pastry into a piping bag fitted with a 1 1/4 cm plain nozzle. Pipe 10 eclairs (about 10cm in length) on a baking parchment-lined sheets leaving 5 cm in between them, as they will puff up heaps.
  • Bake in the oven for 10 minutes Wihout opening the door, reduce the temperature to 160C and carry on cooking for another 10 minutes.
  • Remove the eclairs from the oven and using a sharp knife, pierce a small hole in the side of each eclair to allow the steam to escape. Return eclairs to the oven and bake for another 3-4 minutes to dry them out and crisp up (it's important that you dry them out as you will reintroduce moisture with filling later). Remove the crisp eclairs from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Make the Orange Crème Diplomat :

  • Mix the egg yolks, caster sugar and cornflour in a heatproof bowl.
  • Add the milk and vanilla paste to a small saucepan and heat right up to the boiling point. Immediatelly remove from the heat and gradually add to the egg mixture, whisking vigorously to avoid the eggs scrambling.
  • Return the custard to the pan and heat until it starts to boil, stirring continuously. Carry on cooking until it thickens (it took me about 10 minutes). The consistency should be that of the custard you get in the tins and you should have about 350g of it at this point. If using orange extract, stir it in now. Remove from the heat, transfer the custard to a bowl and cover it with cling film placed directly onto the surface of the custard to prevent skin from forming. Refrigerate for at least an hour.
  • Place the double cream, zest of an orange and orange extract into a large bowl and whisk to soft peaks. Fold the cream into the cooled orange custard and place into a piping bag fitted with a small diameter nozzle and refrigerate until you are ready to fill your eclairs or at least 20 minutes.
  • Pipe the filling into the eclairs through the hole previously made to let the steam out.

Make the Topping:

  • For the icing, add water (2-3 tbsp) to the fondant icing sugar to make the icing. We like a thin layer of icing but you may choose to make it thick and stiff if you wish by using less water.
  • You choose to pipe the filling or simply smear it on with a palet knife. Before the icing sets, scatter the pistachios and dried cranberries in top and leave to set for 30 minutes before serving!

Nutrition

Calories: 270kcalCarbohydrates: 33gProtein: 5gFat: 14gSaturated Fat: 7gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 123mgSodium: 36mgPotassium: 132mgFiber: 1gSugar: 25gVitamin A: 537IUVitamin C: 7mgCalcium: 67mgIron: 1mg
Keyword Christmas Baking Recipes, Christmas Desserts, Christmas Eclair Recipe, Christmas Eclairs, Eclairs with Cranberries and Pistachios, Eclairs with Creme Diplomat, Eclairs with Orange Creme Diplomat
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
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15 Replies to “Christmas Eclairs with Orange Crème Diplomate”

  1. 5 stars
    Absolutely stunning eclairs! I bet the orange flavor would be SO good. Thanks for such a beautiful recipe!

    1. Thanks, Farah! Really hope you like the flavour if you make them 🙂

  2. 5 stars
    I made these eclairs for my family. They taste great and are really easy to make! Thanks for the recipe. I will make them again and again!

    1. Jovita, that’s such lovely feedback! Glad you enjoyed them!

  3. 5 stars
    These eclairs were divine and easy to make with your directions! I love your unique twist and I will be making these again for Christmas!

    1. So glad, Emily!

  4. 5 stars
    These are so festive! love the flavour of the orange filling and the decoration is so effective too.

  5. 5 stars
    These Christmas eclairs demand a bit of time and effort, but totally worth it. I loved making it for my mom’s birthday. Great party dessert, thanks!

    1. Definitely a bit of work, but so glad you found them enjoyable to make! Hope your mom liked them too 🙂

  6. 5 stars
    These sound amazing! Definitely adding them to my holiday baking list.

  7. These were great! I love the orange flavoring.

    1. Thanks, Gina! So glad you tried them and like them 🙂

  8. 5 stars
    Oh, this is so fantastic and impossible to resist!! Everyone at my hose loved it!

    1. Toni, that’s wonderful! Happy holidays! 🙂

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