Thursday, November 10, 2011

Eclair Lightening Bolts!

Good evening everyone :)

Today I learned how to make one of the pastries that definitely has a soft spot in my heart. One of my most well-remembered memories from childhood is going to Perkins Restaurant with my dad. My favorite dessert at Perkins was/is without a doubt the peanut butter pie ;) My dad liked that too (it might even be his all-time favorite), but what I remember him ordering the most (when we were having dessert) were the chocolate-glazed eclairs. Neatly lined on the platter behind the bakery glass-case, those delicate pastries were certainly not for the faint of heart. Packed with custard-y goodness and with a thick layer of chocolate ganache on top - there was no hope trying to resist ordering one...or two.

And now, about 13 years later, I finally learned how to make one of those delectable treats :)

Eclairs, Chef told us, can literally be translated "lightening bolts," and are so named because they resemble a certain kind of lightening bolt - not the ones that zig-zag, but the ones that go straight down into the ground. I wasn't aware that there were any non-zig-zagging lightening bolts before this class, but I thought that was neat. And I love that I'm learning science-y things at culinary school haha ;) Chef also explained the difference between what-the-Americans-try-to-pass-off-as-eclairs and the "real" French eclairs lol Americans used vanilla custard for the filling and chocolate ganache for the topping, pictured here:

French eclairs, however, use pastry cream for the filling and fondant (an icing-like sugar coating) for the topping. Is there really much of a difference? Honestly, I really don't think least in the taste - both are delicious! - but don't tell Chef I said that! ;) They look very similar as well:

Chef's "French" Eclairs (along with some other pastries that I'll explain in a moment)

We made two kinds of eclairs today: chocolate flavored and coffee flavored. For the chocolate ones, we mixed the pastry cream filling with some cocoa powder and the fondant with some melted chocolate, and for the coffee ones, we mixed some coffee extract into both the pastry cream filling and fondant.

Today we also made some "religieuses," which directly translates into "nuns." These are so named because they look like, to quote Chef, "little, plump nuns." haha The process is basically the same as the eclairs: make the dough, bake the dough, fill the dough with pastry cream, and top with fondant, but the assembly and shape is a bit different.

I really enjoyed class today - it was fun to learn how to make such a popular dessert. And to tell you the truth, it's really not super, super difficult! There are several steps, yes, but if you are organized and do everything you are supposed to do, it will work out ok!

Chef showing us how to pipe the batter onto the baking tray

The eclairs and Little Plump Nuns are out of the oven and ready for filling!

Another view

Chef piping a buttercream "collar" around the nuns' necks ;)

Chef also made some "Swans" - aren't they cute? He was really funny and when he put them next to each other said that it was like a little swan family lol


Chef's final presentation: from left to right, it's coffee eclairs, chocolate eclairs, honey/almond eclairs, coffee nuns, chocolate nuns, and then some cream puffs.

And here is my final presentation:

Not quite as pretty as Chef's, but it'll do!

After class, my friend Beth and I went to the gym, and the sunset was so pretty - I had to take pictures on our walk!

Here is the Parliament building! I'm so glad I had my camera with me this time!

The Parliament buildings are on the right (with the green roofs).

This is Beth! She didn't know she was in the picture I think lol ;)


  1. Your desserts look delicious!!! The swans are adorable. All your posts make me so hungry.

  2. I'm already addicted to your blog!