The once humble pastry has now become Haute éclair. The éclair is the most popular patisserie treat in France because it’s comforting, easy to eat, and able to be made at home, albeit with varying degrees of success.
L’Éclair de Génie — a Parisian pastry shop that only sells éclairs — is opening its 25th store on Robson Street in Vancouver in April 2017, so it’s a safe bet to say that éclairs are more than a flaky fad; they are having a renaissance.
This pastry concept is the brainchild of Chef Christophe Adam. The first shop opened in Paris in 2012. Today it has 9 Parisian boutiques, 6 boutiques in Japan, 5 in Hong Kong, 2 in Milan, and 1 in Moscow. The one in Vancouver will be the first L’Éclair de Genie in North America.
The éclair originated in France in the early 1800s, first made by Marie-Antoine Carême, a pastry chef for French royalty. Éclair is the French word for lightning, and the pastry could have been so named because it glistens when coated with confectioner’s glaze, or because chefs joked it is “in a flash”. The Chambers English Dictionary defines it as “a cake, long in shape but short in duration.”
“We have 257 kinds of éclairs, and I still have fun playing with new flavours, textures and colours,” says Christophe Adam. “The éclair must have oomph, with a dazzling, modern look.”
“We will start with 10 kinds of éclairs and introduce two new ones each month, like every other store. And we serve coffee,” says Adam.
Éclairs must be fresh when assembled. The shell, made from choux paste, is easy to make and freezes well. The inside is typically filled with vanilla custard and the top is brushed with chocolate glaze, but the possibilities are endless. By following a few rules, you’ll be a genius.
“I want to teach a technique that isn’t intimidating, so students can make a good éclair at home. You can come up with your own funky colours and flavour combinations but first learn how to make choux paste and the correct way to pipe the filling, and of course (make) the custard — life is about eating custard.”