Nancy Anne Harbord’s Gin, Citrus & Pink Peppercorn Éclairs

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This delicately coloured, fruity éclair combines the botanical flavours of high-quality dry gin with a range of different citrus zests


Ingredients
For the gin and citrus pastry cream:
• 130ml of whole milk
• 60ml of double cream
• 50g of sugar, or 4 tbsp
• 1 pinch of salt, tiny
• 3 large egg yolks
• 16g of cornflour, or 2 tbsp
• 30g of butter
• 1/2 tsp red grapefruit zest
• 1/2 tsp orange zest
• 1/2 tsp lemon zest
• 3 tbsp of dry gin

For the citrus glaze: 
• 2 tsp red grapefruit juice, freshly squeezed
• 2 tsp orange juice, freshly squeezed
• 2 tsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed
• 80g of icing sugar
• pink peppercorns, to decorate

Method
1 
For the gin and citrus pastry cream, grate the citrus zests and set aside.
2 Add 1 tablespoon of the sugar to a medium bowl and set aside. In a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan, bring the milk, cream, the rest of the sugar and a tiny pinch of salt to a simmer over medium heat.
3 Stir occasionally to help the sugar melt and stop the dairy burning onto the bottom of the pan.
While the milk mixture is heating, add the egg yolks to the bowl with the reserved sugar and whisk until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Add the cornflour and whisk thoroughly.
Measure the butter and cut into medium pieces. Set in the fridge until needed. The reason this recipe uses cold butter is to stop the butterfat separating as it melts too quickly. If it’s too soft, you will be left with oily patches in your cream.
6 When the milk mixture has reached a simmer, remove the pan from the heat and whisk it into the yolks, a little at a time to stop the egg scrambling, then return the whole mixture to the saucepan.
7 Add the reserved citrus zests. Allowing them to cook for a short time helps release their flavours before they are strained out for better texture.
8 Heat the mixture over medium heat, scraping the bottom with a spatula to stop it cooking unevenly, until the pastry cream has thickened and is just starting to bubble – this should take less than a minute. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the cold butter until it has completely melted and mixed in. Stir in the gin, mixing thoroughly to combine.
9 Press the whole mixture through a fine sieve to remove the pieces of citrus zest and any lumps from the pastry cream.
10 Scrape the cream into a bowl and use cling film to cover the top, making sure the wrap is fully in contact with the surface of the cream so a skin doesn’t form as it cools.
11 Refrigerate for at least 3 hours (or overnight if able), so the mixture has time to chill and set.
12 To assemble the éclairs you will need 6 éclair shells (the link to the recipe to make these is mentioned in the introduction).
13 To glaze the tops of the éclairs, carefully slice off the top third of each éclair and dip the top-facing side of each éclair into the glaze, making sure every part of that side is coated. The glaze is quite loose, so don’t expect a thick layer of icing – this way the tart flavours of the citrus juices come through better, as less super-sweet icing sugar is used.
14 Lay each glazed top on a wire-mesh cake rack so the excess can drain off. This glaze will dry and set on the éclair tops, so it’s best to add the decoration now.
15 Sprinkle with pink peppercorns, crushing them a little between your fingers as you go so the bright pink flakes are easier to distribute. Allow the glaze to dry.
16 Scrape the pastry cream into a disposable icing bag and twist the open end to secure it closed. Snip a 1cm wide hole at the piping end.
17 Pipe the pastry cream into each éclair bottom, filling each tube until almost completely full. Carefully place the glazed tops back on each éclair, taking care not to disturb the peppercorns.
18 Serve immediately. They can be refrigerated to eat later, but are at their best when freshly made.

Recipe courtesy of Nancy Anne Harbord, originally published on GreatBritishChefs.com

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