Those of you who follow me on Instagram will know that I am a huge fan of the éclairs from L’Éclair de Génie in Paris. In “my” little hood there are no fewer than three of the stores in walking distance (danger!). There’s well-documented evidence of my obsession with éclairs in my photo library…
Uh huh, you could say I am a little obsessed! Choux pastry is one of my favourite things to make (and teach!) and I’m always on the lookout for new flavour pairings and ideas so when I was offered a copy of the English edition of Christophe Adam’s “Éclairs: Easy, Elegant & Modern Recipes” I couldn’t say no!
The book is appealing with lots of bright photographs of the gorgeous éclairs and more than 500 step-by-step images which, even as a more experienced choux baker, I found invaluable. Many steps are just so much easier to show than describe (and I speak from experience as I head into the last week before my own manuscript is due!) and the step-by-step really does make a lot of the more complex steps feel do-able.
There’s a few really useful sections in the front of the book where Adam describes ingredients and equipment necessary to create his “lavish gourmet éclairs” (surprisingly little equipment actually and I was heartened to see the choux are made by hand – no beaters or stand mixer used which is also how I recommend making them!).
The basic choux recipe with step-by step images is really helpful and there are instructions for making coloured dough, chocolate dough and the craquelin topping which is very popular on choux puffs these days. There are also directions for making chocolate shells to top your éclairs with as well as drizzle decorations along with excellent instructions for filling éclairs (the fancy way with a piping bag). And then come the more than 20 recipes – some of which you might recognise if you’ve ever been to L’Éclair de Génie.
If you think the éclairs look time-comsuming to make, you’re not wrong. Each recipe involves a number of components, a few of which need to be completed over a 2-day period so I’d say this is not a book for beginner bakers. If you go through the recipes carefully though, nothing is too complicated so if you have mastered choux making and are determined to take your éclairs to the next step this is the book for you. A little bit of patience and being ok with a bit of finicky assembly work will steer you in the right direction towards making pâtisserie-worthy éclairs!
Personally I’m thrilled to have this resource as I’m always looking for new ideas to up my éclairs and choux gameand the step-by-step images and very clear instructions are the perfect introduction to “fancier” fillings and decorations for me!
As soon as I saw this recipe (Strawberry Éclairs) I knew that I wanted to try it. The recipe itself is 6 pages long (full of step-by-step images) and that’s not counting the choux so it looked a little intimidating at first but when you break it down (and follow the suggested timetable of making a few components the day before) it was actually not that complicated.
I had a little trouble with the pistachio cream (but I think I’ll put that down to “old” gelatin that might not have been as strong) but apart from that, these were fairly simple to make. I’ll admit I cheated and used some homemade preserves in the bottom of the éclair instead of the strawberry coulis but I did: make my own pistachio paste, make candied pistachios, make the choux pastry and pistachio ganache cream so I didn’t slack off totally 😉
I only made a 1/2 batch (so 5 1/2 – I need to get better about piping my éclairs more evenly!) and half of everything else too but the ingredients listed in weight made that very do-able (the ingredients are listed in cups, mL and grams so there’s something for everyone!).
These went down a TREAT late on a Friday afternoon with Neil who was home early from work and our neighbours who received “the call” summoning them to the house to collect treats (they’re used to it!).
“(Almost) too pretty to eat!” was the verdict. “Delicious!”
Click here to download the recipe for Christophe Adam’s strawberry éclairs (recipe reprinted with publisher permission).
I’ll be using this book often, I think, for inspiration and to learn the intricacies of making elegant éclairs. So happy to have this in my collection!
Win a copy of Éclairs thanks to Robert Rose!
Canadian readers – win a copy of Éclairs thanks to Robert Rose! Details here.
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Disclosure: I received a copy of Éclairs for review purposes and Robert Rose is providing one copy for a giveaway prize. I was not asked to write about the book, nor am I being compensated for doing so. All opinions 100% my own.