Traditional French éclairs are beautiful in their simplicity: Pâte à choux pastry dough is baked, filled with vanilla pastry cream and then finished with chocolate icing. From Japan to London to cities across the Midwest, pastry chefs are redefining the classic pastry with modern flourishes.
When pastry assistant Alice Harvey started making éclairs at Brasserie by Niche in St. Louis, James Beard award-winning chef Gerard Craft's French-style bistro, three years ago, she was directed to use classic French desserts as her inspiration; early éclair flavors included lemon meringue and peach-melba. Harvey soon found herself inspired by sweets from around the world, as well as her childhood. In the past two years, she's whipped up éclairs including one with matcha pastry cream, vanilla whipped cream and matcha icing. In early September, she featured an éclair with buttery popcorn pastry cream, salted caramel and popped sorghum. Harvey left Brasserie in October, and now pastry chef Elise Mensing has taken up the éclair R and D. This fall, she served a candied apple flavor with cream cheese-apple filling and a caramel glaze. (314.454.0600, brasseriebyniche.com)
At La Patisserie Chouquette in St. Louis, founder Simone Faure and pastry chef Patrick Devine make a variety of creative éclairs; past flavors include pumpkin-chai, pistachio-orange and blueberry-lemon. (314.932.7935, simonefaure.com) In October, Novel pastry chef Jessica Armstrong served savory crab éclairs with crème fraîche, caviar and chervil at a dinner at Jax Fish House and Oyster Bar in Kansas City. (816.221.0785, novelkc.com)
Written by Liz Miller. Photo of walnut-praline éclair by William Hess, photo of oat and cinnamon éclair by Virginia Harold and photo of winter citrus éclair by Justine Bursoni. This article appears courtesy of Feast Magazine. Feast Magazine is dedicated to broadening the conversation about food and engaging a large, hungry audience of food lovers.