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Christmas Eclairs with Orange Crème Diplomat and Cranberry & Pistachio Topping

Christmas Eclairs
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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 Patissiere and Cranberry & Pistachio Topping! Try it! It’s a lovely dessert for Christmas Eve or Boxing Day lunch to keep the Christmas theme going!

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 rising the buns.

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 eclairs.

Christmas Eclairs

Back to Christmas! I have been harnessing the idea of making a Christmas-flavoured eclair 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.

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Step-by-Step Method for Christmas Eclairs with Orange Creme Patissiere and Cranberry & Pistachio Topping:

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 it to cool down for 10 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 200C 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.

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

Bake in the oven for 10 minutes Without opening the door, reduce the temperature to 160C 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 filling later). Remove the crisp eclairs from the oven and transfer them 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. 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 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 it into a piping bag fitted with a small diameter nozzle and refrigerate until you are ready to fill your eclairs.

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 a stiff icing. 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).

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!

Christmas Eclairs

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

Christmas Eclairs

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!
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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

  • Piping Bag
  • 1¼cm plain nozzle
  • Small diameter nozzle
  • Large baking Sheet

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
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Christmas Eclairs

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