I am really into choux pastry recently. (I have one more choux post I need to finish writing! Been doing choux for the past 3 weeks!) Luckily, so does my picky friend who was invited to a belated birthday dinner.
Pickyfriend is very insistent that he want choux pastry of sorts for dessert, dinner is whatever as long as there is some meat, but no negotiation on the choux. If I can incorporate some sort of citrus into it, it’d be best. I know, picky AND demanding.
Since I have made choux buns a few times now I have decided to take on a new challenge to make eclairs. Eclairs are so fancy! I have eaten some really beautiful eclairs in my days, you decorate them with colourful glazes, edible flowers, chocolate works, fancy pipings, anything goes really! They can be total works of arts!
That being said, I will be playing host and making food, it will be unrealistic to aim for something over the top in terms of decorations. Especially because I plan to do the final assembly of the eclairs after we have finished our meal to ensure maximum fresh and crispyness.
I have a plan.
I started with making a lemon into modern art. I have bought a channel knife for this purpose. Twice. The first one disappeared into the depth of my gadget collection before I even had a chance to use it. >.> Since buying the second one I have been waiting for the first one to resurface, nothing yet. Perhaps it is truly lost.
What do we do with the lemon peel? Make candied peel! Yes I know! I didn’t bother making candied peel for my panettone but I have decided the eclair would really benefit from having it as decorations! Sometimes I really don’t understand my priority.
Making the peel is actually quite fun and they are really tasty. So I’d recommend it if you like citrus anything. You just cook the peel in a syrup until it is soft, then toss it in some sugar and let dry. Also you will get a lovely jar of citrus syrup as a by-product. I call that a win!
As for the eclairs, while you can use a regular round tip or just cut the end off a piping bag, I wanted to try something fun, so I decided to use an open star tip to pipe them. I had no guide, this was all eyeballing. As a result, my eclairs were all different size and length.
They grew magnificently in the oven. About 4 times their original size I’d say.
They were well received and my guests ate them all and some more even though they were so full it was coming up to their eyes. I call that a success!
I also used a different recipe for the creme pat because the usual one I make is too thick and you have to add whipping cream to lighten it up. This one is great as soon as you take it off the saucepan.
Like any lemon meringue thing, it has a lot of individual parts and seem complicated. But you can make ahead and just assemble before serving. It looks so impressive and fancy and people are definitely at least slightly impressed.
For the Choux pastry, refer to this post. It is the exact same recipe.
For the Meringue, I have made my usual Swiss Meringue, the sugar to egg white ratio is about 1.2:1. I made Swiss Meringue because I had to make this ahead of time and this keeps for 2-3days in the fridge, but if you don’t want to, you can make a regular meringue with 2:1 ratio.
Candied Lemon Peel:
Equal part of Water and Sugar
1.With a channel knife, or if you are good with the knife, cut off peels from the lemon. What you want are long thin strips of the yellow part of the lemon. But if you got some of the white rind that is fine.
2. Fill a small saucepan with water enough to cover all the peel. Bring to a boil. Let it boil for about 20 seconds. Throw out the water.
3. Repeat the same step once or twice. This is to get rid of the bitterness of the lemon rind. So if you don’t like that particular taste, boil it three times. Keep in mind you might lose some lemon flavour the more you boil it.
4. Once that is done. Drain the lemon peel. Press out any excess water. Return the peel into the saucepan with equal parts of water and sugar. Bring to a boil, let it cook for 20-30 minutes until the peel is almost transparent and very soft.
5. Drain the liquid from the peel. Keep the liquid as a simple lemon syrup for drinks or baking! You can leave the peel out on a baking sheet to dry for a few hours or overnight. I like to toss the peel in some sugar in to coat the peels. You don’t have to. Just make sure the peels are separated so they don’t stick to each other.
Lemon crème pâtissière: (recipe from How to Cook that, with some modifications)
4 Egg Yolks
164g Granulated Sugar
Zest and Juice of 1 Lemon
1. In a small saucepan, heat up the milk. Don’t let it boil though.
2. Whilst the milk is being heated, whisk the yolk and sugar together till it’s a bit paler in colour. Then whisk into the flour until fully incorporated.
3. Whisk the milk into the yolk mixture slowly, adding a little bit of the milk at a time. You don’t want to cook the yolks, do not stop whisking. Once you have whisked all the milk in, pour the entire mixture back into the saucepan and cook on a low heat until it thickens up. If you are not sure if it is done yet, taste the mixture. If it still taste floury, cook it some more. Keep stirring the whole time!
4. Once it is all cooked, pour it out into a bowl and let cool. Put clingfilm on top and push it all the way to the surface of the custard to prevent skin from forming.
5. Let the mixture cool down enough, then add lemon zest and lemon juice. Add in a bit of the juice at the time, taste it. Add more if you want more juice but beware you don’t add too much liquid that the custard becomes too thin. I am sorry it is a bit vague but it really depends on how you like it to taste. It is very unlikely you will end up using all of the lemon juice, I’d say 1-2 Tbsp should usually do it. The flavour is mostly coming from the zest anyway. You can even add some lemon extract for maximum lemon-ness. Just keep tasting it until you are happy with it.
To assemble the eclair:
1. Stick a metal piping tip on a piping bag and fill the bag with custard. Push the tip into the eclair and fill it up with custard. Or, you can also cut the eclair in half and fill it that way.
2. Using a petal tip, pipe the meringue on top of the eclair. You will notice mine did not look like a petal tip piping. Because I had an accident and that I broke the bag. >.> So I just cut the tip off and use that instead. But ideally, I think a petal tip flat on the side would make a nicer looking meringue topping.
3. Torch the meringue with a kitchen torch.
4. Top the meringue with some lemon peel and serve! And wait for the praise. Feel good about yourself and pat self on back. You deserve it!