Eclairs at Fauchon in Paris
|Place of origin||France|
|Main ingredient(s)||Choux pastry, coffee- or chocolate-flavoured cream, icing|
An éclair is an oblong pastry made with choux dough filled with a cream and topped with icing. The dough, which is the same as that used for profiterole, is typically piped into an oblong shape with a pastry bag and baked until it is crisp and hollow inside. Once cool, the pastry then is filled with a vanilla-, coffee- or chocolate-flavoured custard (crème pâtissière), or with whipped cream, or chiboust cream; and then iced with fondant icing. Other fillings include pistachio- and rum-flavoured custard, fruit-flavoured fillings, or chestnut purée. The icing is sometimes caramel, in which case the dessert may be called a bâton de Jacob.
The word comes from French éclair 'flash of lightning', so named because it is eaten quickly (in a flash).
The éclair originated during the nineteenth century in France where it was called "pain à la duchesse" or "petite duchesse" until 1850. It is a popular type of cake served all over the world. The word is first attested both in English and in French in the 1860s. Some food historians speculate that éclairs were first made by Antonin Carême (1784–1833), the famous French chef. The first known English-language recipe for éclairs appears in the Boston Cooking School Cook Book by Mrs. D.A. Lincoln, published in 1884.
Outside of France
In some parts of the United States, Long Johns are marketed under the name éclairs, though the two are not identical. A Long John uses donut pastry and is typically filled with vanilla pudding or custard, making it a simpler and inexpensive alternative to the éclair.
- Montagné, Prosper, Larousse gastronomique: the new American edition of the world's greatest culinary encyclopedia, Jenifer Harvey Lang, ed., New York: Crown Publishers, 1988, p. 401 ISBN 978-0-517-57032-6
- (Montagné 1961, p. 365, Éclair)
- Éclair, Dictionnaire de l'Académie française, 8th edition
- (Gouffé 1873, p. 288)
- (Montagné 1961, p. 357, Duchesses)
- Oxford English Dictionary, 1861. Petit Larousse, 1863.
- Gouffé, Jules (1873). "Entremets détachés". Le Livre de Pâtisserie (PDF) (in French). Paris: Hachette. p. 288. Retrieved 2009-03-24. "On a changé, depuis une vingtaine d'années, le nom de ces gâteaux [pains à la duchesse] : on les désigne actuellement sous le nom d'éclairs."
- Jules Gouffé, Le livre de pâtisserie, 1873 , Deuxième Partie, Chapitre IX, "Pains à la duchesse au café"
- Prosper Montagné, Larousse Gastronomique, The Encyclopedia of Wine, Food & Cookery (English translation), 1961
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