Sunday, January 27, 2013

Mini Meyer Lemon Eclairs

This is a continuation of my previous post on Meyer lemon curd. Curd, while delicious on it's own is particularly wonderful as a filling for eclairs. The pate a choux dough used to make the pastry is almost identical to the one I used for making gougeresit's straightforward and reliable. This is a delicious desert that showcases the short-lived season of those glorious Meyer lemons. What could be better than Meyer lemon curd layered with freshly whipped cream and sandwiched between a crusty, flaky shell? 

I think these mini eclairs are so darn cute and intensely flavorful to boot! You can serve one or two for desert after a dinner party, or prepare a plate of them to put out at a cocktail party. Even though they're fairly simple to prepare, something about them is so elegant. I think they'd be great treats for an upcoming Oscar party.

If you're unfamiliar with Meyer lemons, they're believed to be a cross between a regular lemon and a Mandarin or sweet orange and are prized for their intensely floral qualities. They were brought back to the U.S. from China around the turn of the century and became commonly grown in California. Meyer's had a resurgence in the 1980s when Alice Waters began using them at her famed restaurant, Chez Panisse, in Berkeley, CA. It's fitting that this recipe comes from Water's own Chez Panisse Cafe Cookbook. Enjoy!

Adapted from Alice Waters, Chez Panisse Cafe Cookbook


Pate a choux:
1 stick (8 tbsp.) unsalted butter
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
1 cup flour
4 large eggs
Confectioner's sugar for dusting

Whipped cream filling:
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
2 tbsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract

To make the pate a choux:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. In a medium size saucepan combine 1 cup water, the butter, salt, and sugar and bring the mixture to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and add the flour all at once. Vigorously stir the flour with a wooden spoon and cook until the mixture pulls away from the sides of the pan, about 30 seconds. Continue to cook and stir the mixture to remove excess moisture, about 1 1/2 minutes more. Remove the pan from heat and transfer the dough to a medium size bowl to cool for a couple of minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, using an electric mixer (be sure that each egg is fully incorporated before adding the next egg). Transfer the dough to a pastry bag (or gallon-size zip-top bag) fitted with a 1/2-inch round pastry tip. Pipe the eclairs onto a parchment-lined baking sheet into 3-inch long strips. Lightly moisten your finger and smooth out any "tails" on the eclairs. Bake for 15 minutes at 425 degrees F, then reduce the heat to 350 degrees F and bake for about 20 minutes more, until the eclairs are lightly golden and dry. Can be made a day in advance and reheated in a 350 degree F oven for 5 to 7 minutes to re-crisp before serving. Let cool on wire racks before filling. 

To make the whipped cream filling:
Place a mixing bowl and whisk attachment in the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes to chill. Remove the bowl from the freezer and add the heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla extract. Whip the cream using an electric mixer (or by hand if you want the workout) until soft peaks form. Transfer the whipped cream to a pastry bag (or gallon-size zip-top bag) fitted with a large star-shaped pastry tip. 

Cut the eclairs in half lengthwise using a serrated knife. Fill the bottom half with Meyer lemon curd and then pipe a layer of whipped cream over the curd. Gently place on the tops of the eclairs and dust with confectioner's sugar. Serve immediately.   

Yield: 30 mini eclairs 

  • If making the eclairs for a dinner or party, have all of the elements prepared in advance and assemble just prior to serving. 

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