Caramel Cardamom Eclairs with Coffee Cream

I kinda sorta love eclairs. Like really, really love eclairs. When I saw that the delightful duo over at Love & Olive Oil had proposed eclairs for Aprils Kitchen Challenge I was very excited about having an excuse to make them.

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If you have any set ideas about what an Eclair should be like then please look away. This is not the éclair of pastry chefs. Instead this is a riff on the kind of éclair I grew up eating in Karachi – the one that had a pillowy whipped cream centre and a smooth chocolate dipped top. My reinvention of this éclair ties in three of my favorite flavors – coffee, cardamom, and caramel.

The combination of coffee and cardamom is reminiscent of Arab style coffee with a bitter depth tempered by the mellow sweetness of the cardamom. The caramel filling on top has the traditionally lovely chew of caramel, but with a little more heft to it thanks to the addition of roughly ground cardamom seeds.

There seems to be this notion that éclairs are complicated to make. Two words: Not true. Time consuming, yes. Complicated, no. There are three components to an éclair – the choux pastry, the filling (usually pastry cream) and the smooth ganache like topping. Each component of a traditional éclair can be made in advance and they actually meld together quite well if you make them a day or several hours before serving.

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I almost did not post this recipe because the pictures are so bad *hanging my head in shame*, but I never got a chance to make it again and wanted to  post this before the deadline. Let’s just say these are a zillion times yummier than they look!

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