Madagascar Vanilla and Caramelized Pecan Eclair, 2012

Credit: Rina Nurra

This outstanding creation is one of many from modern eclair shop, L’Éclair de Génie. Understated, refined, and delicate, this éclair is a perfect combination of flavor and texture. The sweetness of the vanilla cream contrasts with the crunchiness of finely caramelized pecans. Simple but effective.

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Instructions

Step 1: White Frosting

Soak the gelatin in the cream for at least 5 minutes. Transfer the cream and gelatin to a saucepan, add the glucose, and bring to a boil. Add the split and scraped vanilla beans, and let infuse for 20 minutes. Remove the beans, stir, and return to the heat. Chop the white chocolate and the white compound chocolate. Put into a mixing bowl and gradually pour the hot cream into the mixture.

Add the titanium oxide while blending with an immersion blender. When smooth, cover the frosting with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Let harden for 4 hours.

You can make the compound chocolate yourself or buy it ready to use from speciality stores. The titanium oxide is used to whiten the frosting to give it a more attractive color.

Step 2: Madagascar Vanilla Cream

Soak the gelatin powder in a bowl filled with cold water and set aside. Heat the milk in a saucepan until it comes to a boil, then add the split and scraped vanilla bean. Cover with plastic wrap and let infuse for 20 minutes.

Whisk together the egg yolk, superfine (caster) sugar, and custard powder in a bowl until thick and fluffy.

Remove the vanilla bean and pour the milk from the saucepan into the egg mixture. Mix, then return to the saucepan and place over the heat for a few minutes. Add the gelatin and stir until it melts.

Let cool at room temperature until the cream is at 105°F (40°C). Check the temperature with a cooking thermometer. Cut the butter into small pieces and place into the cream.

Blend with an immersion blender until the cream is smooth and even, then refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Step 3: Eclairs

Preheat the oven to 480°F (250°C). Fit a pastry (piping) bag with an 18-tooth star tip, and fill with choux pastry dough. Pipe ten éclairs about 4 1/2 inches (11 cm) in length on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (baking parchment) or a silicone baking mat. Turn off the oven and place the éclairs inside. Bake in the spent oven for 12 to 16 minutes, then turn the oven back on at 320°F (160°C) when the choux pastry has puffed up enough. Bake for 25 minutes. Stop baking when the éclairs are a deep golden color.

Step 4: Caramelized Pecans

Chop the pecans into small pieces with a knife and put into a saucepan with the confectioners’ sugar. Place over medium heat and stir with a wooden spoon until the pecans are caramelized. Let cool a little, then spread out over a silicone baking mat. Separate the individual pecan pieces. Set aside.

Note: Do not let the pecans cool completely or they will be difficult to separate.

Step 5: Assembly

Make three small holes on the underside of each éclair with the end of a small pastry tip, the tip of a chef’s knife, or even a pencil. Fill a pastry bag with the very cold vanilla cream and cut off the end on a slant.

Pipe a generous amount of cream into each of the holes in the éclairs. The éclairs are well filled when the cream comes out of the holes.

Heat the white frosting in the microwave for a few seconds to 71°F (22°C) so that the consistency is smooth. Dip the top of each éclair in the frosting. You can check the temperature of the frosting with a thermometer or by judging the texture.

Immediately smooth the frosting, using your index finger, to remove the excess before it dries.

Wait for a few seconds, then gently dip the glazed part of the éclairs in the caramelized pecans. Use a silicone spatula to stir the frosting from time to time to prevent the formation of a skin. Add the pecans by hand for more gourmet-style éclairs.

Tips

The chef uses gelatin powder, but you can also use sheet gelatin. In this case, you should be aware that one sheet is the equivalent of 2 g of gelatin. Soak in a bowl of water, then dry well before use.

This recipe was originally published in "My Best Christophe Adam" (Éditions Alain Ducasse). See all credits