First prepare the craquelin, put all of the ingredients into a bowl and rub with your fingertips until it resembles breadcrumbs. Continue to mix until it comes together and forms a dough. Place the craquelin between two sheets of greaseproof paper and roll it out to about 3mm thick. Place this in the freezer to firm up for 30 mins. Then take the craquelin out of the freezer and using a knife cut out 12 rectangles that are 12cm by 2cm and place these back in the freezer.
Next make the choux pastry, preheat the oven to 190C (170C Fan) Gas 4 and line two baking trays with baking parchment, draw 6 lines 12cm long, evenly spaced apart on each tray and turn the paper over so the lines are on the reverse. Ensuring you have 12 lines in total.
Put the butter, salt, sugar and 120ml water in a medium pan over a medium-high heat. Once the butter has melted and the mixture is at a rolling boil, add the flour and quickly stir together with a wooden spoon until the mixture forms a dough.
With the pan still on a low heat, stir vigorously for 2 minutes, then tip the dough into a bowl and beat for a few minutes until it stops steaming. These two actions help to cook the flour and dry out the dough, which in turn helps it to absorb more egg. This helps the choux pastry to expand properly as it bakes.
Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until fully absorbed before adding the next. Depending on the flour used and how much water evaporated as you made the dough, the choux pastry will need varying amounts of egg, so the above is given as a guide.
With this recipe I usually add two eggs and then very slowly start adding the remaining egg, checking the texture of the dough after each addition. You are looking for a dough that has a shine and when it is lifted from the bowl, it should fall from the spatula in a ribbon that forms a "V" shape. If the dough doesn't contain enough egg, it won't expand properly and will be prone to cracking as it bakes; if there is too much egg, the dough won't hold its shape and will collapse as it bakes.
To prevent the dough from drying out and forming a skin, immediately put the dough into a piping bag with a 1.5cm plain round piping tip fitted.
Pipe lines of choux onto the prepared baking sheets, you want your eclairs to be pretty thin, the same width as the nozzle. They will puff up, if you make them too big you won't be able to make 12.
Top each eclair with a corresponding sized craquelin piece and place the trays of choux pastry in the oven to cook for 30 minutes until the choux has risen and the craquelin is golden. You may find you need to turn the trays after 15 minutes to ensure the pastry colours evenly.
Turn off the oven and leave the choux pastry in the oven for 30 minutes to dry out further. Remove the eclairs from the oven and leave them to cool before icing and filling them.
Next make the creme patissiere, put the milk in a saucepan and bring it to a boil.
In another bowl mix the maple sugar, fleur de sel, corn flour and egg yolks together until pale in colour.
Gently pour the hot milk into the egg mixture and stir the whole time to combine and make sure the eggs don't cook. Return the mixture to the saucepan and stir or whisk until the creme patissiere is thickened.
Take the maple syrup and whisk it into the creme patissiere. Then slowly add the butter until it melts and combines into the creme patissiere. Place into a bowl cover with a layer of clingfilm and press it on the surface of the creme patissiere and place it in the fridge to cool.
Next take the double cream and place it in a large bowl and whip it until just before stiff peaks. Take the creme patissiere from the fridge and give it a good stir to loosen it. Gently fold the creme patissiere into the cream, trying not to knock any air out of it. Place the creme diplomat into a piping bag fitted with a 4-5mm nozzle and put it in the fridge for at least 30 mins to chill and firm up a little.
Pierce three holes in the bottom each eclair, take the lightened cremeux from the fridge and stir it gently, place it in a piping bag.Fill the eclairs with the cremeux by piping it into each hole until the eclair is full.
Next make the icing, combine the sifted icing sugar with the maple syrup in a bowl that is wide enough to fit the eclair in. If you need the icing a bit looser add the remaining 25ml of maple syrup to make it a bit looser. Once evenly mixed, you will have a very thick icing, dip the top of the eclair in the icing until it is evenly coated.
Take the sliced pecans and use them to decorate the eclairs. Keep in the fridge and use within 48 hours.