Mini Eclairs with Salted Caramel & Fresh Banana

Mini eclairs with Salted Caramel & Fresh Banana
What you need to know about making eclairs is that the pastry needs to be handled as little as possible while still getting everything incorporated. All the ingredients need to be stirred in with a gentle but firm hand and should, under no circumstances, be over-mixed. Also keep in mind that there are a magnitude of ways of serving and stuffing eclairs. In High school we even made fish eclairs with a delicate smoked salmon and cream cheese filling.
Mini eclairs with Salted Caramel & Fresh Banana
As salted caramel is so very popular at the moment (and rightly so), I wanted to use it in my eclairs. In my opinion, fresh banana is the only companion caramel ever needs and so I decided to use thin slices of banana with a salted caramel cream as the filling for my eclairs and kept some of the warm salted caramel to drizzle over the top. Absolutely decadent but oh-so-delicious!
Mini eclairs with Salted Caramel & Fresh Banana
Makes 12 mini eclairs
for the eclairs
250ml (8.45 fluid ounces) water
100g (3.53 ounces) unsalted butter, cubed
2.5ml (0.08 fluid ounces) (1/2 t) salt
250ml (8.45 fluid ounces) (1 cup) flour
2 large, free-range eggs
for the salted caramel
250g (8.82 ounces) sugar
50ml (1.69 fluid ounces) water
100g (3.53 ounces) butter
100ml (3.38 fluid ounces) cream
2 t sea salt flakes
for the salted caramel cream
150ml (5.07 fluid ounces) fresh cream
3 T salted caramel
to serve
fresh banana, diced and drizzled with lemon juice

  1. To make the eclairs, pre-heat the oven to 180c and line a baking tray with baking paper.
  2. Bring the water, cubed butter and salt to a simmer.
  3. Add all the flour and with a wooden spoon, mix until the dough forms a ball which pulls away from the sides of the saucepan.
  4. Allow to cool slightly and add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  5. Pipe/spoon 12-15 x 5cm (1.97 inches) eclairs onto the prepared baking tray.
  6. Place in the oven and allow to bake for 30-45 minutes until the eclairs are golden brown and cooked through.
  7. Once cooked, remove from the oven and allow to cool.
  8. To make the salted caramel, combine the sugar and water in a saucepan and allow to come to the boil. Cook until the sugar is the colour of Amber then add the butter and cream and stir until smooth. Add the salt and set aside to cool slightly.
  9. To make the salted caramel cream, beat the cream until soft peaks form. Whilst beating, add the warm salted caramel and beat until the mixture is thick.
  10. To serve, slice open the éclairs, spoon in some of the cream mixture, add some chopped bananas and a drizzle of salted caramel.
  11. Serve immediately.
This recipe was developed for Woolworths for their Woolies Pantry for the duration of MasterchefSA.
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Look at them. Soft and pillowy on the inside, salty and buttery on the top, crispy on the bottom. And you can have them every day. Heck, you can have them for every MEAL. Want a sausage and egg sandwich for breakfast? Check. How about a chicken salad sandwich or PB&J for lunch? Double check. Need some dinner rolls to go with your pot roast? Gotcha covered. Sloppy joes? Yes please. Is your sweet tooth itching? Slice one in half and turn it into cinnamon toast.

These are a new staple around here. Join me in this new way of life.

You’re welcome.

That’s a ball of dough splashing into baking soda dissolved in water. That’s what makes a pretzel have that nice, brown, chewy crust.  Yummm.

Don’t just throw it in like that though. All the water sort of ended up on the floor. Dumb.

Pretzel Buns

Makes 12 Adapted from
Auntie Anne’s Pretzels: Copycat Recipe

2 cups milk
1 1/2 tablespoons (2 packets) active dry yeast
6 tablespoons brown sugar
4 tablespoons butter, melted
4 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons fine salt

1/3 cup baking soda
3 cups warm water
Coarse salt
6 tablespoons butter, melted

Warm up the milk in the microwave or on the stove for just about one and a half minutes. It should be about 110º. If it’s too hot it will kill the yeast. You should be able to comfortably keep your finger in it. Stir in the yeast and let it sit for about 3 minutes. Add the butter and sugar. Add the flour about 1 cup at a time and the add the fine salt. Kneed for about 10 minutes with a stand mixer, or by hand. Put it in a greased bowl and cover with greased cling wrap. Let rise for 1 hour in a moist, warm place until doubled in size. Preheat the oven to 375º. Divide dough into 12 lumps (I like to divide it in half, then divide each half into three, and then divide each remaining one in half again). Roll them into balls. Combine the warm water and baking soda in a wide bowl. Dip each ball in the baking soda water and then cut a slit in the top with a serrated knife. Place on a greased baking sheet and sprinkle with coarse salt. Bake for about 9-15 minutes or until browned.  Brush with melted butter.

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We had many scrumptious choices this month – too many – hard to choose just one. It was a beautiful and classic cheesecake, tangy and sweet, with a velvety smooth and rich texture.I added my homemade caramel sauce and served it for Easter.
Perfect Cheesecake.jpg
adapted from Perfect Cheesecake by Simply recipes for Baking Partners GROUP

2 cups of Graham cracker crumbs (I used a combo of ginger snaps and vanilla wafers)
2 tablespoons sugar
Pinch sea salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter (if using salted butter, omit the pinch of salt), melted

32 ounces cream cheese at room temperature and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 1/3 cup sugar
Pinch of Sea salt
2 teaspoons PURE vanilla
4 large eggs
2/3 cup regular sour cream
2/3 cup heavy whipping cream

Topping – I omitted to help cut down on the cholesterol since I was adding the caramel sauce
2 cups regular sour cream
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Place a 9 inch spring form pan on a large sheet of heavy duty foil.  Smooth foil up the sides rolling at the top edge.  You are basically making your pan water proof.
  • Grind the graham crackers and/or ginger snaps in a food processor until finely ground.
  • In a large bowl stir together the crackers, sugar and salt. With your hands blend in the melted butter until you have a uniform consistency.
  • Press the cracker crumb mixture evenly into the bottom of your prepared springform pan.
  • Bake for 10 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and let cool.
  • Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees.


  • Cream the cream cheese until smooth.
  • Add the sugar and beat for a few minutes more.
  • Add the salt and vanilla, beating until well blended after each addition.
  • Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until well blended after each addition.
  • Add the sour cream, beating until well blended.
  • Add the heavy cream, beating until well blended.
  • Scrape down the sides of the mixer bowl scraping up any thicker bits of cream cheese that has stuck to the sides or bottom.


  • Place the foil-wrapped springform pan in a large, high-sided roasting pan.
  • Pour about 2 quarts of boiling water around the pan.
  • Pour the prepared cream cheese filling into the springform pan over the cracker crust.
  • Smooth the filling level.
  • Bake on the lower rack of your oven.
  • Carefully pour the hot water into the roasting pan creating a water bath for the cheesecake. Pour enough water to reach halfway up the side of the springform pan.
  • Bake at 325 degrees for 1 1/2 hours.
  • Turn off the oven.
  • Crack open the oven door 1-inch or so, and let the cake cool in the oven for 1 hour. Slow cooling this way helps prevent cracking in the cheesecake.
  • Remove the cake from the oven and discard the foil.
  • With a fresh piece of foil, tent the cheesecake so that the foil doesn’t actually touch the cheesecake.
  • Chill in the refrigerator for a minimum of 6 hours or overnight.


  • In a large mixing bowl cream together the sour cream, powdered sugar and vanilla, until well blended.
  • Chill topping mixture until you are ready to serve the cake.


  • Run a table knife around the inside edge of the spring form pan to release anything that might have stuck during baking.
  • Remove outer pan ring.
  • Spread the sour cream topping evenly on cheesecake.
  • Drizzle with caramel sauce and serve.
  • Enjoy.

1/2 cup heavy cream
4 tablespoons butter, softened
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
3/4 cup sugar
2+ tablespoons water

  • Combine the cream and butter in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer, stirring frequently to prevent scorching.
  • Remove from the heat.
  • In a medium saucepan cook the corn syrup over a medium heat until bubbly.
  • Fold in 1/4 cup of the sugar and continue to cook until the edges begin to turn a light amber color.
  • Add in 1/4 cup sugar more and repeat until all the sugar is blended in.
  • Continue cooking until amber color darkens stirring constantly.
  • Remove from the heat and carefully fold in the cream mixture.
  • Cook over medium heat stirring frequently until caramel is bubbling.
  • Serve warm.

Makes 1 1/2 cups. Refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.
NOTE: Microwave20-30 seconds to soften refrigerated caramel before serving.

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POMMES MAXIM as seen on Ashley Brouwer adapted from the New York Times
Pommes maxim plate beautifully. Add a sprig of rosemary to the middle of each spiral, serve with a dollop of sour cream on top, or just eat them hot right out of the oven. 
10 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 large Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and sliced paper thin
Sea salt
Fresh Ground Pepper
  • Heat oven to 300 degrees. Place butter in a saucepan over low heat. As the butter melts, skim the foam from the surface and discard. Slowly pour off the clear, golden, melted butter into a bowl, discarding any milky residue.
  • Toss the potato slices in a bowl with the clarified butter. Arrange the slices, overlapping, on a baking sheet and sprinkle with salt. Keller recommends using a nonstick baking sheet, but I don’t own one and was still able to easily remove the pommes maxim from the pan with a metal spatula.
  • Bake the potatoes 45 to 50 minutes or until crisp and golden.
  • They can be set aside at room temperature for 1-2 hours until you are ready to serve. To reheat, place them in a 325-degree oven for 10 minutes or until warm.
  • Makes approximately six servings, although this number may vary depending on how large your potatoes are and how many slices you use per circle.
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1/3 cup butter
1/2 cup Hershey’s cocoa
1/4 cup sugar
14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated milk)
1 – cup semi-sweet Chocolate Chips
2 – eggs, slightly beaten
1 1/2 cups ground ginger snaps
1 1/2 cups ground vanilla wafers
4 tablespoons butter, melted
CAPPUCCINO CRÈME (recipe below)
Cherry cordial Hershey’s milk kisses

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • In a small saucepan melt thebutter over low heat.
  • Stir in cocoa and sugar.
  • Add the sweetened condensed milk, chocolate chips and eggs.
  • Stir until smooth. Remove from heat. Pour into crust.
  • Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until center is almost set.
  • Cool completely.
  • Refrigerate until ready to serve.
  • Just before serving, prepare and spread CAPPUCCINO CREME over top.
  • Garnish with chocolate pieces, if desired.
  • Cover and refrigerate leftover pie.

1 cup (1/2 pint) whipping cream
1 1/2 teaspoons powdered espresso
2 teaspoons Hershey’s Cocoa
3 tablespoons powdered sugar


In a mixing bowl, combine whipping cream, powdered espresso, Cocoa and powdered sugar. Beat until stiff. Makes about 2 cups.

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Homemade Triple Onion Dip

Homemade Triple Onion Dip

Yields 2 cups

Prep Time: 40 minutes; Total Time: 40 minutes
For a less sweet version of this dip, reduce the cooking time for the onions. I also suggest making a big batch of the caramelized onions ahead of time and freeze them. That way, you’ll be prepared to make dip immediately whenever the urge strikes! (Just thaw the onions and follow start at step 2.). For a vegetarian-friendly dip, look for Worcestershire that doesn’t contain anchovy. 


    • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
    • 1 Tablespoon Butter
    • 2 Yellow Onions, chopped
    • 1 Shallot, minced
    • 1/2 cup Vegetable Stock
    • 16 ounces Reduced Fat Sour Cream
    • 3-4 dashes Worcestershire Sauce
    • 4 Green Onions, white and light green parts chopped
    • 1/4 teaspoon Garlic Powder, or to taste
    • Salt and Pepper, to taste


  1. Add the oil and butter to a small sauté pan set over medium heat. Once melted, add the onion, shallot, and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden brown – about 15 minutes. Add the stock. Cook another 15 minutes, or until the onions are deeply browned and all of the liquid has cooked off. Remove from heat and let cool.
  2. Add the sour cream to a medium mixing bowl. Stir in the caramel used onions, Worcestershire sauce, and green onions. Season to taste with garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Chill until ready to serve.
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2 cups minced krab
1 bunch green onions, minced
1-8 oz. package Sargento grated Sun dried tomato cheese (if you can’t find this used pepper jack cheese)
1-14 oz. jar sundried tomatoes, drained and minced*
1 small jar roasted red peppers, drained and minced
1 heaping teaspoon Frank’s hot sauce
1 package Knorr Spring Vegetable Soup Mix**
1 cup sour cream
1 cup mayonnaise
·         Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
·         Spray 9 inch stoneware round with PURE.
·         Toss together the krab, onions, red peppers and artichoke hearts.
·         Stir soup mix into sour cream and mayonnaise. Stir in cheese and hot sauce into soup mixture.
·         Fold krab mixture into soup mixture.
·         Spread into stoneware.
·         Bake 30 minutes until top is just golden.
·         Serve hot or cold.
I serve it with wheat thins.
*I sometimes trade for 1-14 oz. jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained
**Mrs. Grass works well too.
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Even though this is triple layered there are only two components to make because the crust ‘dough’ is split in half and serves as the topping too. The bars go in the oven three times: first to cook the crust then to cook the crust with the filling then one last time with the crumbs on top to bring it all together. Three times a charm.
At first glance, this recipe didn’t look very promising. My expectations were low. When I’m wrong I admit it. I was wrong. I’m excited now over the possibilities and can’t wait to make them with cranberries, cherries or figs for a seasonal treat… and wonder how chocolate chips would work out. Reasons enough to make them and eat them again and again because. . .
I heart sour cream raisin oatmeal bars!
These unassuming bars become unforgettable after only one or two bites.
Just long enough to reel you in hook, line and sinker. Resistance is futile.

Sour Cream Raisin Oatmeal Bars

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
Yield: 1 (9×13) pan
Sour Cream Raisin Oatmeal Bars
This old-fashioned favorite starts with an oatmeal crust followed by a cooked sour cream and raisin filling that ends with buttery crumbs gracing the top. Three-layers of irresistible decadence.

2 cups golden raisin

1 cup coconut rum

1 + 3/4 cups old-fashioned oats (not quick cooking)

1 + 3/4 cups flour

1 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup room temperature butter
4 egg yolks, lightly beaten
1 + 1/2 cups sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 cups sour cream (regular or light)

    • Put the raisins in a small bowl and cover them with the rum.
    • Pre-heat oven to 350° F. Spray a 9 x 13 baking dish with non-stick spray and line with parchment paper.
    • In a medium mixing bowl whisk together the oats, flour, brown sugar, and baking soda. Blend the butter in with a pastry blender or fork until small crumbles form. Measure out 1 + 1/2 cups of the topping into small bowl and refrigerate. Pat the rest of the topping evenly over the bottom of the prepared baking dish and bake for 15 minutes.
    • Meanwhile in a sauce pan over medium heat combine yolks, sugar, cornstarch, and sour cream. Cook over medium heat about 15-20 minutes until slightly thickened, the mixture should simmer slowly, if needed turn heat down. Some of the mixture may stick to the bottom of the pan – don’t scrape it up. Remove from heat. Drain the raisins and stir them into the sour cream mixture.
    • Pour the raisin mixture over the baked crust and bake for another 15 minutes until the edges are set but the middle is still very jiggly.
    • Crumble the remaining oatmeal mixture evenly over top of the bars and bake for another 15 minutes. The bars may still wobble a bit in the middle but will set up when cooled.
    • Allow to cool completely then refrigerate until well chilled. Remove bars using parchment to a cutting board and slice into squares or triangles with a chef’s knife wiped clean after each cut. Store in refrigerator up to 1 week.
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      Bacon Rum Toffee adapted from Poet in the Pantry
      Prep time: 15 mins
      Cook time: 50 mins
      Total time: 1 hour 5 mins
      Serves: 24

      12 ounces (3/4 pound) Hormel Black Label Bacon
      4 1/2 ounces unsalted Kerrygold Butter
      1 cup granulated sugar
      5 tablespoons warm water
      2 tablespoons spiced rum
      1 1/2 cups Guittard milk chocolate chips

      • Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, grease it, and set aside.
      • Line another baking sheet with aluminum foil and arrange the slices of bacon evenly on it.
      • Bake for 20 minutes, or until nice and crispy.
      • Place bacon on a paper towel-lined plate to drain.
      • Measure out bacon fat and add to it enough butter to equal 8 ounces all together (in my case, I had 3 1/2 ounces bacon fat, so I only needed 4 1/2 ounces of butter).
      • Crumble up bacon and set aside. (I used my kitchen shears to cut it up finely.)
      • In a large, heavy-bottomed pan, combine the bacon fat, butter, sugar, and warm water. Attach a calibrated candy thermometer and cook over medium heat until it reaches hard crack stage (about 30 minutes), stirring constantly with a silicone spatula. You can use a silicone brush dipped in water to try to wash down sugar crystals from the sides of the pan in the first few minutes of cooking, but try not to scrape too much after that to prevent crystallization.
      • Once the mixture has reached hard crack stage, remove from heat immediately.
      • Remove the candy thermometer and add to the mixture about half the bacon crumbles and the Frangelico. It will bubble up once the Frangelico is added–be careful!
      • Stir until the foaming mostly stops, then spread in the prepared baking sheet.
      • Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the top and let sit for a few minutes.
      • Spread the melted chocolate chips over the top of the toffee and sprinkle over it the remaining bacon crumbles.
      • Let sit until chocolate is set, then break into pieces. (I was impatient and popped the sheet into the fridge to set.)
      • Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week.

      Be very careful about achieving the hard crack stage. It appears I fell a little short of that and now my toffee is a bit soft at room temperature. Either that or the addition of bacon and liquor made it go soft. Eating it straight from the refrigerator, however, it is just fine.

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      2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken pieces
      3 tablespoons butter
      2 large onions, chopped
      3 garlic cloves, minced
      1 28 ounce can chopped tomatoes
      1 cup chicken stock or broth
      1 cup white wine
      2 teaspoon turmeric
      1 teaspoon red chili flakes
      1 teaspoon paprika
      1 1/2 tsp ground coriander
      sea salt and white pepper to taste
      Two generous cups of fresh herbs (a combination of cilantro, tarragon, basil AND parsley)

      • Bring the butter to a sizzle in a large skillet/saute’ pan.
      • Add chicken and fry on medium-hi heat until slightly browned all over. About 5 minutes. Remove the chicken to a plate. Keep warm.
      • Add the onions to the pan, stir for a 3-4 minutes.
      • Add the garlic and saute, until onion has softened a little, another 1-2 minutes.
      • Add the chilli flakes and coriander, stir for a few seconds to release the aromas. 
      • Add the tomatoes, chicken stock and wine. 
      • Season with salt an pepper.
      • Bring to a simmer, cover the saucepan and cook for 45 minutes or so, occasionally stirring, until the sauce is reduced to a thick glossy sauce. I found it took about 1 hour and a half  to reduce the sauce. Alternatively, add a little cornstarch or flour mixed with water and stir into the pot as necessary.
      • Shred chicken and return to pan. 
      • Add the fresh herbs. Stir and cover for 10 minutes, so the flavors can infuse. Season again, if necessary.
      • Serve over rice or potatoes and garnish with lemon slices.
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