Éclairs made easy and elegant with modern recipes

Éclairs
Easy, Elegant & Modern Recipes

Review by Linda Kissam & Adrianne Morrison

If food is art, then Chef Christophe Adam’s cookbook Éclairs certainly are worthy of a First Place award.

Eclairs express creativity, delight our eyes, ignite our taste buds, and provoke our emotions. Most everyone likes sweets, but we LOVE beautiful, creamy, perfectly crisp yet soft and divine pastries. We cannot pass a bakery without pausing to breath in the aromas and imagine the sweetness on our tongue.

June 22, 2017 is official Chocolate Éclair Day. The very word “éclair” fills our minds with images of opulent cream, light dough, and a creamy topping that just melts in our mouth. Chocolate Éclair Day celebrates one of the most decadent of treats to come out of the confectioner’s trade since – well- forever. The oldest recorded eclair recipe was discovered in an American cookbook dated 1884.  There are as many varieties of Éclairs but the one that leaves us all drooling is the Chocolate Éclair. The most popular chocolate eclair filling is vanilla cream or whipped cream. In the United States, a chocolate eclair is sometimes referred to as a “Long John.” A Long John is an elongated doughnut, filled with custard, cream, or jelly and covered in chocolate frosting.

Éclair means “flash of lightning” referring to, I suppose, the speed at which these elegant treats disappear if left unguarded.

Chocolate Éclair Day is best celebrated by indulging in the amazing variety of ways you can create a Chocolate Éclair. Milk chocolate topping? Absolutely! Dark Chocolate? Oh yes. Sprinkled with dried blueberries? Yup? There’s no wrong way to celebrate this day, but here are a few suggestions for your consideration.

  1. Read Chef Christophe cookbook/trainer, “Eclairs, Easy Elegant & Modern Recipes. We gave this book 5 stars.
  2. Make your own eclairs. Heaven knows with 500+ step-by-step photos you CAN do this!
  3. Take a break, go to the doughnut shop to order an éclair with a latté on the side. See how theirs compares with yours.
  4. Go on vacation to France, the place where eclairs originated!

Adrianne

How gracious of Chef Christophe to give us insight into his world by thoughtfully introducing us to the exact steps to make perfect éclairs. No detail is overlooked so even novice bakers can begin to create these delightful pastries. You will have to invest in the proper equipment and then practice, but if you love éclairs, then fresh, home baked deliciousness can be yours—plus your family and friends will delight in tasting all your samples!

A topic I simply cannot resist in cookbook reviews is to talk about the photography. Sometimes it doesn’t exist or is simply under-whelming. But not in this cookbook! Rina Nurra deserves mention for her stunning photography displaying Éclair art, and for assisting Chef Christophe in actually showing us with photos how to make perfect éclairs—this is truly a step-by-step illustrated manual.

Cooking with a friend is always fun, and baking together using this beautiful guide will be super sweet! Invite your friend for coffee and review your Éclairs cookbook. Select your recipes/s, check your available equipment, list what you need, and head for Williams-Sonoma or your favorite cooking store. One or each of you must make the glaze and/or filling the day before you make your éclairs so this not spur of the moment baking. My mouth is watering just thinking about it! Of course, you could make them on your own, but it would be so much fun with a friend. Chef notes that the “Choux pastry keeps very well in the freezer. Make enough pastry so you can each have some extra to freeze—after you make them once, you’ll surely want to make more with a different filling or glaze. Bon Appétit!

If you’re simply not a baker, head for one of Chef Christophe’s boutique pastry shops to taste his éclairs. Make a point to stop-in when you travel—they are sure to delight your senses. Look for L’ Eclair de Génie next time you visit Hong Kong, New York, Paris, Tokyo, Vancouver, and yes, soon coming to Los Angeles in 2017. Can’t wait? Get this beautiful cookbook and start your love affair with home-made éclairs.

Linda

Heaven knows my greatest pastry achievement might just be Toll House cookies.  That being said, this book has all the “ingredients” that could help change the course of that statement. The author outlines through text and photos how easy creating A-Mazing éclairs are for the home chef.  Providing a list of equipment, basic rules and helpful tips this book speaks to both the beginner and experienced baker.  Making éclairs at home has never been easier. It’s like having a private lesson in your very own kitchen. Think 35 drool-worthy recipes with jaw-dropping photos galore.

On page 21 the reader learns tips for making extraordinary gourmet eclairs – like always use whole milk products – never fat free or low-fat versions.  If you do…your cream won’t set! On page 25 we find that this Choux pastry freezes extremely well. When you’re ready to eat, whip up the glaze and you’re good to go.

So… my pistachio orange éclairs are baking. The kitchen is smelling very very good. I am thinking I am a home pastry chef. Who knew that a Toll House cookie diva from SoCal could whip up something so delicious? Thanks for the training and the recipe Chef Adam.

Recipe

Pistachio Orange Éclairs
Courtesy of ÉCLAIRS by Christophe Adam © 2017 www.robertrose.ca Reprinted with publisher permission.
Available where books are sold.
Image credit: 2015 Editions de la Martinière

Makes 10 classic éclairs

Preparation time

Day 1: 1 hour

Day 2: 2 hours

Equipment

  • Fine-mesh sieve
  • Food processor
  • Fine-tooth grater or citrus zester
  • Instant-read thermometer
  • Immersion blender
  • Stand mixer
  • 2 metal spacers (1⁄16 inch/ 2 mm), optional
  • Fine-mesh sieve
  • Rolling pin
  • Large offset palette knife
  • Card stock, about 1 inch (2.5 cm) larger than éclair
  • Wide, flat pastry brush
  • Preheat oven to 325°F (160°C)

Pistachio paste

1⁄2 cup shelled unsalted raw pistachio nuts (60 g)                 125 mL

2 tsp   grapeseed oil          10 mL

Pistachio cream

3⁄4 tsp unflavored gelatin powder 3 mL

21⁄2 tsp cold water  12 mL

1 cup + 1 tbsp whole milk  265 mL

1 orange       1

1 large egg yolk      1

3 tbsp granulated sugar (40 g)     45 mL

2 tbsp cornstarch     30 mL

1 tbsp pistachio paste (recipe above)     15 mL

1⁄3 cup unsalted butter, cut into cubes (80 g)   75 mL

Choux pastry

1⁄2 batch Choux Pastry (see recipe below)                  1⁄2

Pistachio-almond paste

41⁄2 oz almond paste, cut into cubes     130 g

2 tsp   pistachio paste (recipe above)     10 mL

Green food coloring

Confectioners’ (icing) sugar

Sparkling green glaze

1 cup  clear glaze (200 g)  250 mL

Green food coloring powder

1 tbsp gold shimmer dust or luster dust  15 mL

Assembly and decoration

Additional clear glaze

Candied orange peel, cut into cubes (about 50)

1 PISTACHIO PASTE

  1. Place pistachios on a baking sheet and bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes, until slightly brown in the center. Transfer to a bowl and let cool.

2 & 3. Once cool, transfer pistachios to food processor fitted with the metal blade and process until ground to a fine powder. Reserve about 1 tbsp (15 mL) for decoration and set aside.

4 & 5. Add oil to remaining ground pistachios and process until smooth. Transfer to a bowl, cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

  1. PISTACHIO CREAM

In a small bowl, stir together gelatin and cold water. Set aside.

1 & 2. In a saucepan, bring milk to a boil over medium heat, grating zest from orange into milk as it heats. Remove from heat and cover with plastic wrap. Let steep for 10 minutes.

  1. Meanwhile, in a heatproof bowl, combine egg yolk, sugar and cornstarch.
  2. Whisk until mixture is creamy and thick.
  3. Pour steeped milk through fine-mesh sieve into egg mixture; discard zest.
  4. Return to saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking constantly.
  5. Remove from heat. Add gelatin mixture, stirring until gelatin is dissolved.

8 & 9. Place 1 tbsp (15 mL) pistachio paste into a heatproof bowl. Pour hot custard over pistachio paste and whisk until completely incorporated.

10, 11 & 12. Let cool to 104°F (40°C). Using immersion blender, gradually incorporate butter, blending after each addition, until smooth and shiny. Transfer to a shallow dish. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, for up to 1 day.

3. CHOUX PASTRY

Prepare choux pastry and bake éclairs following Steps 1 to 9 on pages 30 and 31, and Steps 1 to 4 on page 33.

 

  1. PISTACHIO-ALMOND PASTE
  1. In stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat cubed almond paste until smooth.

2 & 3. While mixing, add enough green food coloring to turn paste bright green. Add 2 tsp (10 mL) pistachio paste. Mix until smooth, adding more food coloring if necessary to achieve desired color.

  1. Sprinkle a clean work surface with confectioners’ sugar. If using, place two spacers parallel to each other, about 8 inches (20 cm) apart. Place prepared paste between spacers and sprinkle with a little more confectioners’ sugar to keep it from sticking.
  2. Using rolling pin, roll out paste to about 1⁄16 inch (2 mm) thick.
  3. Remove spacers, if necessary, and carefully slide offset palette knife underneath sheet of paste to loosen it from work surface.
  4. Make a template: Trace an oblong shape slightly smaller than your éclairs onto cardstock, then cut out. Place the template on top of rolled-out paste and cut out 10 oblongs.
  1. SPARKLING GREEN GLAZE
  1. In a saucepan over medium heat, heat clear glaze until smooth and no lumps remain. Add just enough food coloring to turn glaze deep green. Remove from heat.

2 & 3. Add gold shimmer dust. Using immersion blender, blend until smooth. Set aside at room temperature.

  1. ASSEMBLY

Using a 1⁄4-inch (0.5 cm) round piping tip, pierce 3 evenly spaced holes in base of each éclair.

Place piping tip in pastry bag, if desired. Using a spatula, fill pastry bag with prepared pistachio cream. Fill each éclair, inserting a small quantity of cream in each hole. Using a small knife, remove excess cream. (See techniques on pages 47 to 49.)

  1. Warm a small amount of clear glaze in microwave just until fluid. Using pastry brush, coat one side of each piece of pistachio-almond paste.
  2. Place a piece of paste, glazed side down, on each éclair, pressing down lightly on edges of paste to help it stick to the éclair.
  3. Warm prepared sparking green glaze in microwave, if necessary to thin. Dip the top of each éclair in glaze.
  4. Remove excess glaze by brushing lightly with pastry brush.
  5. Decorate each éclair with a row of candied orange peel cubes bordered by a little reserved pistachio powder. Let stand until glaze is set.

Choux Pastry

Makes 11⁄2 lbS (750 g) pastry

Enough for 20 classic éclairs, 50 small éclairs or 120 miniature éclairs

Preparation time: 30 minutes

Equipment

  • Large baking sheet(s), lined with parchment paper or silicone baking mat
  • Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C)

Choux pastry

2⁄3 cup water           150 mL

2⁄3 cup whole milk   150 mL

13⁄4 tsp pure vanilla extract         8 mL

11⁄2 tsp granulated sugar  7 mL

3⁄4 cup unsalted butter, cut into small pieces (160 g)           175 mL

3⁄4 tsp salt    3 mL

1 cup + 3 tbsp all-purpose flour (160 g)  295 mL

5 large eggs, beaten (approx.)     5

1 CHOUX PASTRY

  1. In a medium saucepan, combine water, milk, vanilla, sugar, butter and salt.
  2. Bring to a boil over medium heat.
  3. Remove from heat. Add flour.
  4. Using a wooden spoon, stir until flour is completely incorporated and dough pulls away from sides of pan, leaving sides of pan fairly clean.
  5. Return pan to medium-low heat. Cook dough, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon or heatproof spatula, for 5 minutes, until dough is smooth and forms a ball. (Heating the dough like this helps to “dry it out” so you end up with a uniform mixture that is not too moist.)
  6. Transfer mixture to a bowl. Gradually add just enough egg to make a glossy, firm dough, while beating well with a wooden spoon or heatproof spatula—this is essential for the pastry to turn out well.
  7. The dough will be very smooth and hold its shape.

2 PIPING AND BAKING ÉCLAIRS

  1. Using bowl scraper or spatula, transfer dough to a pastry bag fitted with a 3⁄4-inch (2 cm) star tip. On prepared baking sheet(s), pipe pastry dough into oblong shapes, spacing about 2 inches (5 cm) apart (they will expand as they bake): Classic éclairs: 51⁄4 by 1 inch (13 by 2.5 cm); Small éclairs: 21⁄2 by 3⁄4 inch (6 by 1.5 cm); Miniature éclairs: 2 by 1⁄2 inch (5 by 1 cm).
  2. Bake one sheet at a time, in preheated oven until evenly puffed and golden brown and they feel hollow: Classic éclairs: 35 minutes; Small éclairs: 30 minutes; Miniature éclairs: 25 minutes. Do not open oven door while baking, or éclairs will collapse. At the end of baking, turn oven off, open oven door about 1⁄2 inch (1 cm) and let cool for 15 minutes (they will continue to brown slightly) to let steam escape and prevent éclairs from cracking. Transfer to racks to cool completely.

Resources

Eclairs: Easy, Elegant and Modern Recipes
by Christophe Adam
$19.65