Cake Batter Éclairs

There is a bakery a few towns away that I absolutely love called Sook Pastry. In a way I’m glad it’s not too nearby because I would frequent it more than necessary. There are many great baked goods that they offer, but my favorite is the awesome chocolate èclairs.  They are not too sweet or rich but are satisfyingly chocolaty with the perfect shell.I don’t know at what point I became such a pastry snob. I remember eating boxes of Entenmann’s chocolate èclairs and being satisfied as a kid. But when I picked up a box for the nostalgia factor, it was horrifically disappointing. The too-squishy bland base, the lack of custard filling and the low quality chocolate topping made me wonder, “WHY?!” I guess I can argue that the costs of ingredients are higher and manufacturers have to cut down on quality in order to keep the costs low. Remember when they changed the recipe for the chewy chips ahoy? That was another sad day. Anyways, the point is, I guess I’d rather eat just one great éclair than a whole box full of them.
Turns out, baking a great éclair is not as easy as it looks. The hurdle is the choux dough base. I’ve made cream puffs (which are also made out of choux dough) many times before. Remember the croquembouche? I had trays and trays of cream puffs that time. The problem was it was not sturdy enough for an éclair. They would flatten and look sad, no matter what technique I tried (using the tines of a fork, using a star tipped frosting tip to pipe out the batter, letting the base cook in the oven longer to ensure dry interiors…). So I went to google and did some research.
Luckily Ilan from the ironwhisk already did the research and created a great choux paste tutorial for èclairs. My only gripe with recipe was that it produced a shell that was too salty. Even when I waived the salt in the filling, the saltiness was overpowering. I suggest cutting the salt in half to ensure a better balanced éclair.
I originally baked this for my third blog anniversary, and that’s why there are so many decorative sprinkles that scream “celebration!” hahaha I know, I’m approaching the fourth anniversary around the corner and I’m posting this now. Smh. Please, feel free to use any type of sprinkle, sanding sugar, sugar pearls, and nonpareils that you might have. My sprinkles container is over capacity and I am now resorting to ziplock freezer bags to hold the rest of them. I may have a hoarding problem with them, but they were perfect for this post in particular.
To go with the “celebration” theme, I also made the filling cake batter flavored because what better way to celebrate than with cake? A few spoonful of cake mix gives it that flavor. I rarely use boxed cake mix and only use it to give it a “cake batter” flavor to something. So I usually have a ton of it leftover. I always feel bad tossing it out. There must be a better way out there hahaha But I figure, if you do bake boxed cake often, then this should be a staple in your pantry.

Cake Batter Éclairs

For the Choux Base:

Ingredients:

75 g. water
75 g. milk
75 g. butter
5 g. sugar
2.5 g. salt (about ½ tsp. best to use the tsp for such small measurements)
100 g. bread flour, sifted
150 g. eggs (about 3 large eggs), room temperature and lightly beaten
Powdered sugar, for dusting

Instructions:

  1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, stir water, milk, butter, sugar and salt and bring to a boil.
  2. Remove the pot from the heat once the mixture reaches a boil, and add all the flour at once.
  3. Stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until a film on the bottom of the pan forms, about two minutes. The dough should be 170˚F (75 ˚C). Do not scrape the film into the dough.
  4. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the dough and mix on low for about a minute and thirty seconds or until the dough cools down to 140˚F (60˚C).
  5. Add half the eggs on low, until combined. Then add the remaining eggs slowly until combined and a smooth dough forms.
  6. Preheat the oven to 350˚F (180˚F) and line a sheet pan with parchment paper. You can dab a bit of the dough onto the bottom corners of the parchment paper to keep it in place while you pipe out the éclairs.
  7. Prepare a pastry bag (or a gallon sized freezer zip lock bag) with a ½ in. star tip with as many small teeth as possible.
  8. Pipe the èclairs about 5 inches long, 1 inch wide and  2 inches apart.
  9. Dust with powdered sugar.
  10. Bake for about 35-40 minutes until the pastry is dark golden brown.
  11. Remove the tray from the oven and carefully slit the bottom of each choux with a paring knife to let the steam escape.
  12. Cool completely.

For the Cake Batter Pastry Cream

Ingredients:

2 c. whole milk
½ c. sugar, divided
2 egg yolks
1 large egg
¼ c. cornstarch
2 tbsp. butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 tbsp. vanilla cake mix
sprinkles (optional)

Instructions:

  1. In a pot, heat whole milk and ¼ c. sugar and bring to a simmer.
  2. While the milk heats, mix egg yolks, egg, cornstarch and ¼ c. sugar in a medium bowl.
  3. When the milk is hot, use a ladle to slowly drizzle hot milk into the egg mixture while whisking to prevent curdling.
  4. Once all of the milk is introduced into the egg mixture, return all of it back into the pot.
    Bring the mixture in the pot to a boil while whisking. When it is thick, remove the pot off the heat.
  5. Add in the butter and vanilla. Once the butter is completely mixed in, add the cake mix. Move mixture to a bowl and place a piece of plastic wrap directly against the pastry cream (to prevent a skin from forming). Chill completely, about 2-3 hours, before using.
  6. If adding sprinkles, add to the pastry cream after fully chilled.

Vanilla Glaze

Ingredients:
1 ½ c. powdered sugar
2 ½ tbsp. milk
⅛ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. vanilla extract
1 tbsp. butter

Instructions:

  1. In a microwave safe bowl, melt the butter.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix.

Assemble the Éclairs:

  1. Flip the cooled choux pastry upside down and fill with cake batter pastry cream using a pastry bag fitted with a small round tip.
  2. Dip the éclairs in the glaze using your fingers to wipe away the excess on the sides to ensure a neat presentation.
  3. Sprinkle with whatever decoration you want, or go simple and forgo the decoration.

Choux pastry recipe adapted from Iron Whisk.
Pastry cream and glaze recipe adapted from All Recipes.

A (Belated) Blogiversary, A Funfetti Cake Batter Cake & A Giveaway

Funfetti Cake Batter Cake and Macarons 3It’s my first Blogiversary! One year ago, I started blogging on this little website with a lot of encouragement from friends and family. I cannot believe that it has already been a year. Each time I am able to share recipes, tutorials or whatever this brain of mine thinks of, I am so grateful to be able to send off a little piece of my creativity into the webosphere.  I’m even more grateful to the all of you who take the time out of your day to read the little bits of me that I post on my wee space on the internet.
funfetti macarons Funfetti Cake Batter Cake and Macarons 2Because anything celebratory requires sprinkles (or glitter) in my brain, I made a little cake chock-full with sprinkles for this post. It has sprinkles in the frosting, around the outside, and on the macarons. (I originally wanted to do a funfetti cake, but being me I totally forgot to add the sprinkles to the cake batter so instead it went into the frosting.) And because I love all things macarons, I added some funfetti macarons. The cake and the macarons are filled with cake batter frosting. My secret ingredient to making it taste like cake batter? Boxed cake mix. *GASP*I know. I never ever ever ever ever use boxed cake mix but this is the one time exception. And because it uses boxed cake mix, it is definitely on the sweeter side of the dessert spectrum. It also has that nostalgic bake sale cupcake taste that I loved in my youth.
Funfetti Cake Batter Cake and Macarons 5 Funfetti Cake Batter Cake and Macarons 6To celebrate my ridiculously belated blogiversary, I’m hosting a giveaway! If you know me at all, Target is one of my favorite places to shop. I’m telling you, I cannot walk out of that store without something in my hand! It literally has everything you need so I’m giving away a $25 gift card so that you too can enjoy a small shopping trip to Target.*  Entering the giveaway is so simple! Simply follow me on Instagram and like my giveaway photo and for an extra entry, like and leave a comment on this post about what kind of cake you like. The giveaway ends on Friday, May 8th and if the winner does not respond within 3 days, I will be selecting another one. Funfetti Cake Batter Cake and Macarons 4Funfetti Cake Batter Cake and Macarons

Vanilla Buttermilk Cake (recipe below)
Funfetti Cake Batter Frosting (recipe below)
Funfetti Macarons (recipe below)
1-2 c. Sprinkles

Instructions:

  1. Evenly fill and stack each layer of vanilla cake with funfetti cake batter frosting.
  2. Crumb coat the cake with a thin layer of cake batter frosting (funfetti cake batter frosting without the sprinkles.)
  3. Place cake in freezer for 5 minutes until the frosting on the outside sets firmly.
  4. Once crumb coat is set, frost the entire cake with cake batter frosting.
  5. Take a handful of sprinkles and slowly cup the outside of the cake, patting it to ensure full coverage. (This part will create a mess. Sprinkles will bounce and fall everywhere.)
  6. Let frosting set in freezer for 5 minutes.
  7. Take cake out and frost little mounds of frosting around the top of the cake and attach a funfetti macaron for decoration.

Vanilla Buttermilk Cake

Ingredients:
1.5 c. cake flour
1  c. sugar
½ tbsp. baking powder
⅛ tsp. salt
¾ c. buttermilk, divided
4 oz. unsalted butter, room temperature
2 eggs, room temperature
1 egg yolk
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F and line four 6-inch cake pans with parchment paper.
  2. In a bowl of a standing mixer with the paddle attachment, add flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Mix until combined.
  3. On low speed, add ½ c. buttermilk and butter and mix until combined.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs, egg yolk, ¼ c. buttermilk, and vanilla extract until homogenous.
  5. On low speed, slowly add the egg mixture to the flour mixture.
  6. Increase speed to medium, and mix until combined.
  7. Evenly divide cake batter into the three cake pans.
  8. Bake about 20-25 minutes until cake is done or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  9. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, and then move onto a cooling rack until completely cool.

Funfetti Cake Batter Frosting

Ingredients:
3 c. whole milk
¾ c. flour
¼ tsp. salt
1½ 1b. (6 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
3 c. sugar
¼ c. cake mix
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
½ c. sprinkles

Instructions:

  1. In a saucier pan, put milk, salt and flour and whisk until combined on medium heat.
  2. Continuously whisk mixture until thickened to a pudding like consistency.
  3. Once thickened, strain through a mesh strainer into a bowl with a spatula to remove lumps.
  4. Place a piece of plastic wrap on top of the flour mixture and put into the fridge until fully cool.
  5. In a mixer bowl fitted with the whisk attachment, mix the sugar and butter on high speed until fluffy and pale about, 5-10 minutes.
  6. Add the chilled flour mixture and continue to whip on high speed until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture is no longer gritty, about 5-10 minutes.
  7. Add the vanilla extract and cake mix and mix until combined.
  8. Reserve ⅔ of the mixture for filling the macarons and frosting the outside of the cake.
  9. Mix ½ c. sprinkles into the remaining frosting for filling the cake.

Funfetti Macarons

Ingredients:
212 g. almond meal
212 g. powdered sugar
172 g. egg whites, divided to 82 g. and 90 g (aged, if possible)
236 g. sugar
158 g. water
nonpareils for decorating
cake batter frosting (recipe above)

Instructions:

  1. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.
  2. In the bowl of a food processor, add the almond meal and powdered sugar and pulse until thoroughly combined.
  3. Sift the mixture over a large mixing bowl, throwing out the lumps as they appear.  Add the crystalized lemon and 82 g. of the egg whites and stir until you get a thick mixture.
  4. In a small pot attached with a candy thermometer, combine the sugar and water over medium heat and boil until the syrup reaches 200˚F.
  5. Once the syrup reaches 200˚F, start whipping the remaining 90 g. in the bowl of your stand mixer with the whisk attachment on medium speed until soft peaks are reached.
  6. Once the syrup reaches 248 ˚F, remove the pot off the burner and slowly pour the syrup down the side of the mixing bowl with the egg whites on medium speed.
  7. Once the egg whites are fully incorporated, increase the speed to medium high until egg whites form glossy, stiff peaks.
  8. Mix a ⅓ of the egg white mix to the almond mixture and stir together until the batter is slightly lighter and less pasty.  From then on, fold in ⅓ of the egg white mixture at a time until the mixture “flows like magma”.  The mixture should be smooth and run thick ribbons off the spatula.
  9. With a pastry bag fitted with a ½ in. plain tip, pipe 1¼ – 1½ in. rounds.
  10. The piped batter may have peaks but should smooth away in a minute or two.
  11. Sprinkle nonpareils evenly over macaron shells.
  12. Let the batter stand until the tops of the macarons are dry to the touch, about 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  13. Preheat the oven to 275-325˚F.  If your oven tends to run hot go for 275˚F, if not then 325˚F.
  14. Bake 10-13 minutes, until the feet are formed and the tops are smooth.  The batter is done when you slightly wiggle it and it starts to come off of the parchment paper / silicone mat.
  15. Once cool, frost the inside of the macaron shell with cake batter frosting and sandwich with another macaron shell.

* Open to U.S. Residents only. Winner will be contacted via email.