I’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:
Reminiscent of these, from L’Éclair de Génie in Paris that I took to a potluck party last summer.
Even 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…
After a break for lunch, we headed back to the kitchens to find our éclairs nicely baked up 🙂
Michael showed us a number of different techniques – from tempering chocolate to make shiny chocolate shapes to decorate with and working with chocolate transfers…
Then 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…
I have to say, I was pretty darned impressed with what everyone produced – so professional looking, don’t you think?
All 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.”