And with nearly three-quarters of the vote, Paris Pastry Crawl is the undisputed winner! Thank you all for voting, and now, let the gluttony commence. We’re going to start off the series with the éclair, quite possibly the most iconic of all French pastries, and certainly the first I was familiar with, thanks to a francophile mother and the Beaverton Bakery (hey! they’re still around!), where she used to take me and my brother after school for a treat if we’d been good… or maybe if she had a hankering herself. Now, of course, I live in Paris, and finding an éclair doesn’t require a special trip, though sometimes it should.
La Pâtisserie des Rêves has been around for a few years now, but I admit I didn’t feel all that compelled to go. Something about the bell jars covering the pastries on display just seemed so clinical. Impersonal. Sterile. But just before Christmas, chef Philippe Conticini put out a gorgeous book (with an irresistible puffy cover). Onto my Amazon wishlist it went, and what do you know? Santa Claus deemed that I had been a good girl. Flipping through the pages, I realized that these pastries weren’t sterile at all. The swoop of toasted meringue on the lemon tart, the overgrown rolled brioche, the opulent use of vanilla beans – this is the way I like to bake! Obviously, a visit was now in order.
Any éclair not covered in fondant automatically gets points in my book. (We’ll discuss fondant and why it is evil in the next post.) This one, wrapped entirely in chocolate – I don’t envy the person whose job that is, especially in the summertime – wins on that count. Then it gets a shimmer of luster dust, my love-hate relationship with which I’ve mentioned before.
Since the exterior is relatively difficult, they’ve taken the easy (although actually more traditional) route for filling the éclair by splitting it lengthwise before piping in the creamy center.
The chocolate, inside and out, is a good quality Venezuelan 70% from the Chocolaterie de L’Opéra. The filling is smooth and custardy, with rich, fruity chocolate flavor. The pâte à choux is good, too, and what it lacks in crispness it makes up in lack of dryness and anyway, the chocolate shell has enough crunch to contrast with the tender pastry and gooey pastry cream. At 5.50 a pop, these are some of the more expensive éclairs in town, but the size is generous and the quality evident, so worth an occasional splurge, for sure.
On this day in 2009: Endive Right In (Endive pizza! I’ve been thinking of making one this week, in fact.)
Originally published on Croque-Camille.