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Caramel Éclair "Thingies" ...inspired by Simply Irresistible {food 'n flix}

Girl inherits quaint restaurant with an amazing kitchen (gorgeous ceilings to covet).

Girl does not inherit the skill needed to keep restaurant afloat.

Girl meets handsome guy, prophesizing older man, and silent-but-magical crab.

Girl transfers hope, sadness, lust, joy...emotion...into her cooking and food.  Mystical fog, floating, passing a tear drop...  Girl can cook.

Life takes a turn for the better for girl, handsome guy, and everybody in her path.

Fun, flirty, mouthwatering, and totally cheesy.  What more can a girl ask for?

I've freely admitted many times in the past that I love a good chic-flick.  Make it a good foodie chic-flick and two free hours, and I feel revitalized!  Plus, Patricia Clarkson is GOLD is this flick.  In my favorite scene, she is taken over by desire when eating one of Amanda's "Caramel Éclair Thingies".   From that moment on, I knew what I wanted to make when I finished Simply Irresistible.

As Tom so eloquently put it, "But these are amazing...  The way it starts in your mouth and...it just travels to your brain and then shoots down your spine and just explodes out of your toes...!"
Caramel Pastry Cream
slightly adapted from Hungry Cravings 
yield: ~2 ½ c.

5 oz. sugar
¼ c. water
-----
2 c. milk, at room temperature
1 ¼ oz. cornstarch
1 oz. sugar
1 large egg
2 large egg yolks
½ oz. butter, at room temperature
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

Combine 5 oz. of the sugar and the water in a small, heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil, brush down the sides of the pan with water, and boil for 8 to 10 minutes, or until caramelized. The sugar will be fragrant and a deep amber color when it is caramelized. Remove the pan from the heat and dip the bottom into an ice water bath for a second or two. Slowly stir in the milk. Return the pan to low heat and stir until smooth. Increase the heat to medium and heat to a simmer.

Meanwhile, whisk together the cornstarch and remaining 1 oz. of sugar in a medium bowl. Whisk in the egg and yolks. Continue whisking while adding the hot caramel mixture in a thin stream. Transfer the mixture back to the saucepan and cook, whisking constantly, over medium heat for 2 - 3 minutes, or until it thickens and just begins to bubble. If you see any lumps in the pastry cream, push it through a fine mesh sieve into a clean bowl.  Otherwise, just transfer to a clean bowl and stir in the butter and vanilla. Press plastic wrap directly onto the surface and refrigerate until ready to use.
Pâte à Choux
(sweet or savory)
adapted from Alton Brown  
yield: ~4 dozen cream puff shells or ~2 dozen éclair shells

1 c. water
¾ stick (6 Tbs./3 oz.) butter 
1 Tbs. sugar*
⅛ tsp. salt 
5¾ oz. bread flour
1 c. eggs, (~5 large eggs; just whisk together, then remove tiny bit extra)

Preheat oven to 425° F.

Combine water, butter, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Add flour and remove from heat. Work mixture together, using a wooden spoon, and return to heat. Continue working the mixture until all flour is incorporated and dough forms a ball. Transfer mixture into bowl of a standing mixer and let cool for 3 or 4 minutes. With mixer on lowest speed add eggs, a little bit at a time, making sure each addition is completely incorporated before continuing. Once all eggs have been added and the mixture is smooth, put dough into piping bag fitted with a round or star tip. 

Pipe immediately into desired shape and place ~2" apart onto parchment (or silpat) lined sheet pans. Bake for 10 minutes, then turn the oven down to 350° F and bake for 10 more minutes or until golden brown. Once they are removed from the oven pierce with a paring knife immediately to release steam.  Transfer to wire rack to finish cooling.

*If making savory shells, replace the sugar + ⅛ tsp. salt with 1 tsp. salt total.

note: for éclairs, pipe ~5" x 1" / for mini éclairs ~2 ½" x 1" / for cream puff, pipe golf ball sized "rounds"
Now that you have the rich, seductive cream filling and the baked, eggy casing, it's time to get down to the business of making the "thingies"...
Caramel Éclair "Thingies"
...or Caramel Cream Puff "Thingies"
yield: 2-4 dozen

1 recipe Caramel Pastry Cream
1 recipe sweet Pâte à Choux

Make the pastry cream the day before you want to assemble the "thingies".  Once it is cool, pipe the pâte à choux into desired shape/size and bake.

Once the shells are cooled a bit, put the pastry cream into a piping bag fitted with a small, round tip.  Stick the tip into the bottom or side of your shells and pipe as much cream inside each one as you like.  Enjoy!
Mi amiga Leslie of La Cocina de Leslie is hosting Food 'n Flix: Simply Irresistible this month!
Food‘nFlix

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