The Art of the Eclair at Bonnie Gordon College of Confectionary Arts

Decorated éclairs on eatlivetravelwrite.comI’m a HUGE fan of éclairs. Actually I am a huge fan of choux pastry – it’s so versatile – you can make éclairs and profiteroles, gougères or fancier desserts like Paris-Brest.  But as well as being a huge fan of making choux pastry, I love to eat it. A lot. Eclairs are something I’ll indulge in (actually a lot more often than I will a macaron) in Paris so you can imagine my excitement when this box from Bonnie Gordon College of Confectionary Arts arrived at work just before Christmas:

Bonnie Gordon eclair box on eatlivetravelwrite.comReminiscent of these, from L’Éclair de Génie in Paris that I took to a potluck party last summer.

Eclairs from l'Eclair de Genie Paris on eatlivetravelwrite.comEven more exciting than receiving a box of gorgeous éclairs from Bonnie Gordon was the fact that they were promoting their new Continuing Education class – The Art of the Éclair. Oh boy – a class where I can learn to make professional-looking éclairs? Yes please! I was absolutely chuffed to be invited as a guest of the College to a full-day class last month where I learned lots of tips and tricks for making pretty pastries!

Chef Michael Smith calmly led the class through the many steps of mixing the choux pastry…

Chef Mike Smith at Bonnie Gordon pastry classgetting it “just so”…

Making choux pastry at Bonnie Gordon on eatlivetravelwrite.comWhilst Michael’s pastry rested before being piped out, we got to work…

Students making choux pastry at Bonnie Gordon on eatlivetravelwrite.comThen Michael demoed how to pipe the éclairs – it’s quite the art and one that takes much practice to get it perfect…

Piping choux pastry at Bonnie Gordon College on eatlivetravelwrite.comAfter that we were on our own. Everyone did a pretty good job, I think!

Students piping éclairs at Bonnie Gordon College on eatlivetravelwrite.comMine? I was pretty happy – they were a little on the thin side but at least they were uniform!

Piped éclairs on eatlivetravelwrite.comWhile our éclairs baked, we got to work making six different types of pastry cream (crème pâtissière) – coconut caramel, pistachio, raspberry, tangerine, chocolate and vanilla…

Making pastry cream on eatlivetravelwrite.comI don’t have photos of this process – pastry cream is something you can’t leave to its own devices on the stovetop so while everyone was hard at work on their flavour, so was I!

After a break for lunch, we headed back to the kitchens to find our éclairs nicely baked up 🙂

Baked éclairs on eatlivetravelwrite.comAll ready to decorate!

Michael showed us a number of different techniques – from tempering chocolate to make shiny chocolate shapes to decorate with and working with chocolate transfers…

Making chocolate transfers at Bonnie Gordon on eatlivetravelwrite.comTo a new-to-me “bubble sugar” technique (isomalt with food colouring baked between two sheets of Silpat – SO. COOL!)

Making bubble sugar at Bonnie Gordon on eatlivetravelwrite.comThen we learned how to work with poured fondant – definitely not as easy as Michael made it look – it’s very sticky and heat-sensitive so you need to make sure you keep it at the “dippable” temperature…

Dipping éclairs in poured fondant on eatlivetravelwrite.comMichael demonstrated some ideas…

Chef Mike Smith's eclairs at Bonnie Gordon at eatlivetravalwrite.comAnd then left us to it!

I have to say, I was pretty darned impressed with what everyone produced – so professional looking, don’t you think?

Student eclairs at Bonnie Gordon College on eatlivetravelwrite.comAll in all, a fabulous day, a constant, yet leisurely pace where you had time to really take in all the information Michael has to offer. Yes, you get the recipes but mine are also covered with notes about all sorts of tips and tricks. Choux pastry is something you really need to work with a few times before you understand it and get to know how it is supposed to look and feel – definitely not just a “follow the recipe and you’ll be fine” type of dessert – one that hands-on experience and practice is invaluable for. My biggest takeaway – not surprisingly – is that good things take time. You don’t want to rush an éclair and that professional finish is going to take a few goes to get it right! I’m sure my and Neil’s colleagues (who were the happy recipients of a box of éclairs each) won’t complain if I feel I need to practice again 😉


Disclosure: I attended the class as a guest of Bonnie Gordon College of Confectionary Arts. I was not asked to post about this experience and I am not being compensated for doing so. All opinions 100% my own.

*According to the Bonnie Gordon website, “the term ‘confectionary’ (with an “a”) is commonly used as an adjective as in, confectionary sugar, while confectionery ( with an ‘e’), usually refers to a shop or facility which manufactures confections and sugary treats.”

14 thoughts on “The Art of the Eclair at Bonnie Gordon College of Confectionary Arts”

  1. Darned right they won’t complain.

    These were gorgeous, and a HUGE hit. Tangerine was by far the standout, with pistachio my personal close second. The raspberry was not all that well-liked by some.

    Artistic presentation!

  2. You had me at 6 types of pastry cream 🙂

    The class sounds like so much fun – another reason to wish I wasn’t a five hour drive away from Toronto.

  3. I know how you like your macarons but if I have to chowse between a macaron and an éclair, I would opt for the éclair. I made them years ago and they are not that easy to make. That class sounds so much fun. Thanks for sharing and they look beautiful!

  4. What a wonderful post! Thank you so much for sharing.

    I’m travelling from Australia to study Bonnie Gordon College’s Diploma Programme in May this year so this just makes me even more excited for my trip (and hungry too)!

    – Taryn Elise xx

      • I most definitely will blog about it! Although I won’t be able to give away too many secrets – I’ll definitely be sharing all the finished products of everything I make over the 4 months!

        Yippee!!! ^_^

        – Taryn Elise xx


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