Whip out the flour, eggs and butter and brush up on your your choux pastry skills; eclairs have made a comeback and are looking more glamorous than ever before!
By Jana du Plessis
We watched as the world indulged in the cupcake trend, with their elaborately whipped toppings and unusual garnishes. Then, the foodie masses named the dainty French macaron the flavour of the month. It seems the spotlight has now fallen on a nostalgic classic: the eclair!
When we first got word that choux pastry was back in fashion, we turned to the experts for final confirmation. The One&Only Hotel in Cape Town is well-renowned for their extravagant afternoon high teas (here are the details:), so we knocked on the kitchen door of their pastry chef, Kyle Hickman, to get the tasty low-down. ‘It’s choux time!’ Kyle decalred, ‘And aside from delicious sweet variations, we are also experimenting with savoury versions, too’. We had to know more…
The anatomy of an eclair
For those who are still pondering the difference between an eclair and a profiterole, we’ll break it down for you. Both delights are made with choux pastry, an originally French pastry that is deliciously light, flaky, crisp, and golden in colour. The pastry is made using a meticulous technique; butter and flour are cooked over a stove top, eggs are then added and vigorously whisked into the mixture to create a glossy, aerated dough. Now here’s the most important defining detail; the shape in which the pastry is piped, ultimately decides the classification of the dessert. A profiterole, or cream puff, is a little circular, ball of doughy pastry, most commonly filled with a rich, sweet cream. The eclair has a longer, oblong shape, and is filled with a wider variety of flavoured creams or custards, before being topped with icing. What factor makes the eclair the winner of the two? There’s more of it, of course!
The original eclair offered a very limited choice of flavours, but the trendier 21st century eclair comes in a myriad of flavours, textures and tastes. Raspberry cream, lemon curd, salted caramel, chilli chocolate and Green Tea matcha, are just a few of the many eclair varieties available! And if all that sugar doesn’t tickle your fancy, go for the herbed cream cheese, tuna mousse or smoked salmon with horseradish cream. Yum!
What are the flavours you’re most looking forward to trying? Comment below! In the meantime, here is the recipe for our scrumptious white-chocolate and caramel eclairs.