Before starting this Paris-Brest Éclairs recipe, make sure you have organised all the necessary ingredients.
For the craquelin topping: Combine the flour, sugar and butter...
... until you obtain a consistency similar to a dough.
Using a rolling pin, spread into a thin layer (thickness 1mm) between 2 sheets of greaseproof paper. Freeze until ready to use.
For the choux pastry: Organise all the necessary ingredients.
Place the butter, salt and water in a saucepan on the heat.
Bring to a boil.
Remove from the heat and pour all the flour at once.
Stir with a wooden spatula, making sure that lumps do not form. The resulting dough is called 'panada'. Dry off the panada on the heat, stirring with a wooden spatula, until the paste comes away from the sides of the saucepan and forms a ball.
Transfer the panada into another recipient and leave to cool for 5 minutes.
One by one, add the eggs and combine with a wooden spatula. As you can notice, it is difficult to incorporate the egg at the start, but it will combine well after a while.
Repeat for the remaining eggs. The choux paste is ready to use.
Take the craquelin topping out of the freezer and cut into disks, using a pastry cutter (diameter 3cm).
To make the éclairs, pipe 3 choux buns next to each other (don't make them too tight), each with a diameter of about 3cm. On top of each choux bun, place a disk of craquelin topping, pressing gently to make it stick.
Repeat for all the choux buns...
... then bake at 170°C (gas 3) for 20 or 25 minutes.
The choux buns should be golden, light and puffed. When cooked, remove from the oven and leave to cool.
For the crème au beurre: Organise all the necessary ingredients.
In a mixing bowl, combine the sugar with a small amount of water.
Bring to a boil and cook until the temperature reaches 121°C. The use of a digital thermometer is highly recommended, but not essential. (If you don't own one, simply dip a fork in boiling sugar. If when you see strings forming when you take the fork out, it means that the sugar is ready.)
When the sugar is ready, gradually pour it over the eggs, with the mixer on low speed. The eggs should be at room temperature. Make sure the eggs are at room temperature to avoid any thermal shock.
Once the sugar is completely combined with the egg yolks, continue beating on high speed until the mixture has cooled down.
When cooled down, gradually incorporate the softened butter (cut into cubes). Continue beating vigorously until you obtain a smooth and homogeneous cream.
At this stage, add the praline. The amount of praline varies according to the flavour intensity you like. Add the equivalent of one tablespoon first, then add more if necessary.
Assembling the éclairs: Cut the éclairs in half, lengthwise.
Set the top half of the éclair aside. Repeat for all the éclairs.
Scoop the praline crème au beurre into a piping bag fitted with a plain nozzle (15mm diameter).
Pipe the buttercream into three regular balls on top of the three choux buns.
Repeat for all the éclairs.
Gently place the top half back on (this part should be covered with craquelin topping).
Sprinkle with icing sugar. Reserve in the fridge until ready to serve. Enjoy!