Are eclairs the new food trend? There are certainly enough articles about these, ‘not your father’s eclairs,’ that the replacement for the Macaron or the Cronut might just be here.
Forget about what you think an eclair is – ‘the big-as-your-hand’ choux paste filled with vanilla pudding-like stuff and dipped in a glaze that looks like chocolate, but I’m not sure contains any at all.
These beautiful works-of-art, that are elegantly long and narrow, are popping up in South Kensington, London and have already started migrating to the States. Maitre Choux, the bakery that started creating these masterpieces, literally means Master Cabbage (choux paste, when piped as a cream puff and baked resembles a Cabbage). But, I think here they were going for Master of Choux. That sounds better.
You must take a look at their gorgeous work here. The myriad of colors and flavors all finished to perfection will make your mouth water. They are a bit pricey, however. For example, they have an eclair called Red Love that is a combination of two things you ‘can’t live without’ as they say: an eclair filled with Tahitian Vanilla Cream and Raspberry Puree, topped with a raspberry macaron, drizzled with white chocolate and fresh raspberries and gold leaf. Well that absolutely divine invention is 5.8 Pounds or $8.33 in today’s conversion. This is the new $5 cup of coffee that I’m absolutely willing to pay for.
Well – since June 22nd is National Eclair Day, I thought I’d take a deeper look into this and see what I could create that might fit this category. You need to start with a Gluten Free Pate a Choux recipe which you can find here. I repeated the recipe below as well. Just remove the sugar from the dough recipe and you’re good to go.
And, I made a template to make it easy to pipe the eclair. Just made my markings on parchment and slipped it under another piece of parchment on a cookie sheet.
You can use a #10 or #12 round tip to pipe the eclairs. Should you have any points sticking up, dip your finger in water and tap those down.
Did you make note of how incredibly smooth the top of the eclairs at Maitre Choux are? Well, I know when I make choux paste that the tops crack, so I read up on this a bit and thought I’d try a different baking method to see if I could get the tops smooth. I normally bake the first 10 minutes at 425F and then reduce the oven and bake an additional 375F for 20 to 25 minutes. But, the recommendation I saw was to bake at 375F for 25 to 30 minutes or until done. Well, here are the results. I’ll stay with my method, thank you very much.
And, why reinvent the wheel? I see that Maitre Choux has an eclair with Hazelnuts and Milk Chocolate. I absolutely adore Gianduja (hazelnut combined with milk chocolate), so that’s where I’m headed. Since Gianduja isn’t so readily available in grocery stores, I’m going to substitute Nutella, which is absolutely delicious, so I don’t think it’s a huge sacrifice. But, if you ever have the opportunity to eat a delectable piece of Gianduja chocolate, please go for it.
So, I’m starting with a Hazelnut Praline. You’ll need to blanch the hazelnuts. You can toast them in the oven for 10 minutes at 375F or you can refer to my earlier post where the hazelnuts are boiled with baking soda, skinned and then toasted. I assure you that the baking soda method works very well. With the oven method, it’s quick, but, I’m never very successful removing the skins this way. Just take a look. But, the skins weren’t offensive. So, if you want to toast the hazelnuts to bring out the flavor, this is the way to go.
You’ll caramelize sugar and pour it over the toasted, blanched hazelnuts, let it cool for about 30 minutes and buzz it up in your food processor until no sharp pieces are left. And, I apologize – no picture of the buzzed praline. Not sure what happened there.
Then on to a basic pastry cream, which you’ll see here. Just remove the orange zest. But, I’ve also included it below. To that, I’ve added a 1/2 cup of nutella, while the pastry cream is slightly warm, as well as a 1/4 cup of hazelnut praline for a delicious, sweet, nutty crunch. Cover that with plastic wrap touching the top of the pastry cream and refrigerate for about 10 minutes. In the meantime, you’ll whip heavy cream to stiff peaks and add that to the cooled pastry cream to lighten it up a bit.
And, now you’re ready to fill the cream puffs. These get filled from the bottom. You’ll need that same #10 tip as above. In order to ensure that the entire eclair is filled, you’ll fill from two different spots. You’ll be able to feel when the eclair starts to get heavy. You want to stop right before it explodes. Keep them upside down on the cookie sheet. It will make it easier to dip in the milk chocolate ganache, which is up next.
The milk chocolate ganache is super easy. Place your chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat the heavy cream to boiling and pour over the chocolate. Let it steep for about 2 minutes and whisk until the mixture comes together. You will want to let it cool a few minutes to get a bit thicker. Don’t panic if it gets solid. That’s why it’s in a microwave-safe bowl. You just need to heat it up 10 seconds at a time until you get back to the right viscosity.
Before you start dipping, get a clean cookie sheet lined with a clean piece of parchment. Put your hazelnut praline in a shallow bowl and working left to right you’ll have your ganache, the praline and the clean cookie sheet. Dip the eclair in the ganache letting any excess drip off. Turn right side up and place a generous amount of hazelnut praline on top of the ganache. When you place the eclairs on the cookie sheet, place the dipped eclairs at the far right of the cookie sheet and work your way back. You don’t want to drip over your dipped product.
And, if you want to mimic the gilded eclair that Maitre Choux is selling, you could take this next step. You’ll need gold lustre dust, a small paint brush and everclear. Place the dipped eclairs in the refrigerator until the ganache is hard. Add the lustre dust to the everclear, dip the brush in and paint the entire top of the eclair. Unfortunately, I didn’t have everclear, so I used lemon extract, which is what I would normally use if I was painting fondant. I just wanted to show you how it would turn out.
I know it’s a lot of components, but anything this good is worth the effort. And, all the components can be made ahead of time, which makes it easier.
Hop on the new trend before it goes away!