How about having éclairs for desserts?”
“How can we have toffees for desserts?”
“No. Not the toffee. Éclairs, the creamy French dessert!”
If you can relate to this conversation and your knowledge of éclairs is half baked, then it is time to explore. The moment you think of French desserts, tempting Crème Brûlée, Crêpes, Savarin and other heavenly sweets come to mind.
But as much as these desserts and pastry items, éclair is also one of the classic French sweets. Shaped like a hot dog bun or oblong shape, this favourite pastry item of French children, has slowly started to occupy a place in the menu cards of Indian pâtisseries and confectionaries.
Filled with a cream and topped with icing, éclair, which is believed to have originated in 19th century France, is made in a variety of flavours ranging from chocolate, vanilla, fruit, nut, coffee and rum.
Mad Over Donuts (MoD), which recently ventured into making éclairs, is offering an array of tempting flavours like dark chocolate, coffee, Nutella, salted caramel, etc. Tarak Bhattacharya, COO, MoD, says that when éclair was introduced in 19th century, it became an instant hit. “Most people get confused when they hear the name éclair. But today’s consumers are getting to know the delicacy and some even specifically ask for éclairs,” says Bhattacharya.
Ask him why did the brand decide to introduce éclairs to its patrons and Bhattacharya says, “We take constant feedback from our consumers and keep a tab on the food trends. The flavours introduced are in sync with the Indian palate and are launched after tasting session and feedback from the target audiences.”
Éclairs when translated in French can mean glaze or lighting because of the shiny effect on top. “Éclair is usually made with choux pastry or pastry dough. However at MoD, we use our own customised dough which makes the texture rich and creamy. Our chefs have also perfected the recipe which suits the Indian palate,” he adds.
City-based home baker, Seema Nair, says that the most popular variety is Chocolate éclair, which is topped with chocolate fondant and filled with chocolate custard or pastry cream.
“However, I often get orders for other flavours that are not necessarily chocolate-based. Salted caramel is gaining a lot of popularity and since it is not too sweet and overwhelming in taste, people prefer it,” says Nair.
Nair further says that éclairs emerged in the 1860s and was known by a different name. “It was called la petite duchesse and later began to be called éclair,” she explains.
Nair says that preparing the filling for éclairs is a meticulous process and requires patience and precision. Made with pastry cream, it requires it to be thick.
“The pastry cream is a kind of custard that needs to be thickened. The filling for a classic éclair is a pastry cream, a type of custard that’s cooked on the stove. It requires the thickness of a pudding for stability so that it is easy to put the filling in the pastry. Ensure that you prepare it hours in advance before using it as a filling,” advises Nair.