In many workplaces in in the Netherlands it is a tradition to treat your coworkers to baked goods on your birthday, either homemade or store-bought. About a decade ago I worked with a guy called Benno and he was crazy about banana eclairs (bananensoezen in Dutch). Bananensoezen are banana-shaped eclairs, stuffed with pastry cream, whipped cream, and banana, and topped with a glaze. A nearby patisserie where most of my coworkers acquired the baked goods made great banana eclairs, and Benno always requested that bananensoezen would be included and that we’d save one for him. As a surprise I made him homemade banana eclairs, and he loved them.
Recently I remembered this story and how good they were, and decided to make them again. Incorporating the eggs into the dough for eclairs is hard work by hand, but thanks to a tip from CampariGirl I now did it with a stand mixer and it was a breeze. The pastry cream in bananensoezen is usually flavored with vanilla, but I flavored it with banana liqueur instead for even more banana flavor. Banana eclairs are delicious as a dessert and well worth making. Here’s what I did…
For 6 large bananensoezen
50 grams flour
50 grams butter
50 grams milk
50 grams water
pinch of salt
2 ripe bananas
For the pastry cream
250 ml (1 cup) milk
50 grams sugar
25 grams flour
1 Tbsp banana liqueur (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
2 egg yolks
For the banana glaze
1 ripe banana
100 grams confectioners’ sugar
10 grams butter, soft
1 tsp banana liqueur
To make the pastry cream, combine the egg yolks with the flour in a bowl and add a bit of the milk.
Bring the remaining milk to the boil in a saucepan and turn off the heat.
Whisk the egg yolks with the flour until creamy.
Then add the hot milk very slowly, whisking constantly, until you have incorporated all of it.
Return the mixture to the saucepan.
Bring to a boil and allow to simmer over low heat for 3 minutes. Stir vigorously and constantly while you do this, as this mixture will burn easily.
Turn off the heat and add the sugar. The sugar will melt in the hot pastry cream. Adding the sugar at the end helps to prevent burning the pastry cream as it cooks.
Add the banana liqueur (or vanilla extract).
Stir to incorporate.
Transfer the pastry cream to a piping bag and refrigerate for at least 2 hours to allow the pastry cream to firm up.
Meanwhile, make the dough for the eclairs. Combine the milk, water and butter in a saucepan over medium heat.
Bring to a boil, stirring now and then.
Turn off the heat and add the sifted flour and the salt.
Stir until the dough comes together and detaches from the pan. Cook for 1 minute over low heat, stirring constantly.
Transfer the dough to the bowl of a stand mixer and add 1 egg.
With the paddle attachment (perhaps a balloon whisk will work even better, but I haven’t tried that), mix until the egg has been incorporated and the mixture is smooth. Then add the second egg and again mix until it is completely smooth and shiny. You could also do this by hand, but it takes quite a lot of stirring in a stiff dough.
Transfer the dough to a piping bag.
Preheat the oven to 200ºC/400ºF (with fan).
Cut off the tip of the piping bag.
Pipe the dough onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper in 6 banana shaped ‘sausages’. You can probably do this more neatly than I did.
Bake the eclairs for 15-20 minutes at 200ºC/400ºF (with fan), or until they are golden brown.
Allow them to cool on a rack.
To make the banana glaze, combine the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
I used a bit too much banana liqueur and my glaze turned out a bit thin.
Whip the cream with the sugar until stiff, and transfer to a piping bag. Yes, you need three piping bags for this recipe!
Cut each eclair in half lengthwise with a serrated knife.
Make sure you keep the halves of the eclairs together for a good fit later on.
On each bottom half of the eclairs, pipe some of the pastry cream.
Cover with banana slices.
Cover with whipped cream.
Close the eclair with the top half.
Finish with the banana glaze. (You can see my glaze was a bit runny because I used too much banana liqueur.)
Serve at once, or refrigerate and take out of the fridge about 15 minutes before serving. They are best when they are fresh, as the eclairs will become tough and soggy.