Happy Summer to You!
For a very special little girl’s 2nd birthday, we made mini éclairs with vanilla pastry cream, chocolate ganache glaze, with raspberry pick accents decorated with lots of pink watercolor, scalloped edges, and Eiffel tower icons. Ooh, la, la!
Homemade choux pastry – which includes cream puffs, gougeres (choux with cheese in the batter), and éclairs – is so delicious and easy to make that you won’t want to go back to the store-bought versions! Actually, you won’t be able to go back – it’s that big of a difference. And, the crisp, buttery shells will beg to be filled with something commensurate in quality and taste. This is where the rich pastry cream comes in 🙂 I used the recipe (and inspiration from her cute tutorial!) from Frosting and a Smile for the pastry cream. The recipe calls for the addition of butter at the end; I highly recommend this step! Leave plenty of time to chill your cream before you need it. There are many slight ingredient variations available online for the choux, but I’ve used the Better Homes & Garden’s version here repeatedly with great success.
While I have made choux before, I had never put together an entire éclair. Using silicone mats with inch measurements around the edge helped me create mini, but not too mini éclairs, of the same size. After baking these and poking holes in both ends to let dry, I made the chocolate ganache glaze using cream and semisweet chocolate. The glaze made dipping the éclairs a cinch, but proved to be difficult down the line when it didn’t dry entirely. In hindsight, leaving them in the refrigerator unwrapped for a couple hours dries the outside perfectly without compromising the moist filling. There were two tricks, in my opinion, for making the éclairs look professional. One is to fill the éclair on both ends, weighing it as you go to a desired fullness. Two, fill each with pastry cream BEFORE dipping in the glaze in order to seal the ends.
What an incredibly fun project to work on! I wanted the details to be simple, but elegant and distinct and include a lovely light pink in keeping with a young girl’s birthday. Using a few brush strokes of light pink watercolor and black stamps featuring the Eiffel tower, an Eiffel tower souvenir postmark, and the name PARIS, I removed these little gems with a scalloped edge punch.
I lined each serving tray with the same shade of light pink paper scalloped with special scissors and ran a wide piece of black grosgrain ribbon down the center on which to hang a little image of watercolor and stamp. I placed each éclair in a mini white doily which was then placed in a white eclair paper. The accent, a four inch wooden pick with a pearl on the end, was supposed to hold the raspberry just below the pearl. It didn’t quite work, but that fact didn’t dampen my pleasure with the overall look. Just seeing and tasting these treats transported me to another place that afternoon, complete with rose-tinted glasses, French café music, and a call to savor the moment.
corrie @ Peachie’s Treats