Executive Chef Tariq Hanna: He Does Eclair
Executive Chef Tariq Hanna swears by the éclair rule: “a bakery is only as good as its éclair.” Check out his interview with NOLA.com below!
Hey y’all! It’s been way too long. But don’t worry, this post is chalk-full of (cream-filled with?) excitement. Since our last post, our éclairs were named among, “the world’s best” by Food and Wine Magazine. Now, not only can you pick up one of these delicious pastries in our boutiques, you can also get them delivered directly to your door via Good Eggs, our official partner for local delivery here in New Orleans! We strongly recommend this post be enjoyed with éclair in hand.
Sucré Does Eclair
After the nod (seems like more of a head banger?) we received from Food & Wine Magazine, we got to thinking: what exactly makes one of these french classics a contender among one of the world’s best? Chef Tariq has been telling us for years that the éclair is the cornerstone to any great patisserie. It only took a month of exclusive dedication to the pastry in our stores to convince our local fans, but it seems the rest of the world has finally caught on, too. So what is it about this unique, torpedo-shaped pastry that differentiates it from any other pastries you may find it nestled between?
What’s in a Name?
Much like anything characteristically french, its origins are romantically shrouded in mystery, blurred by local legends and competing tales. Whose bakery? Which monarch? How much flour? There’s even disagreement around the origin of it’s name —éclair— the french word for lightning. Some contend it’s due to the bright, glossy glaze, while others fiercely assert its due to the speed at which they’re usually consumed. Maybe in this case, we agree to disagree?
A name you’ll often come across (or maybe not so often, since the odds of you googling “history of éclairs” are slim to none), is that of Marie-Antoine Carême, a famous pastry chef among French nobility during the 19th century. Perhaps THE most famous. This guy was internationally renowned, or as internationally renowned as you can be in the 1800s, and he did it all without the help of Food Network and in the wake of the French Revolution. And have you ever seen one of these chef’s hats? Yeah, he created that too.
Keep it Simple: Pâte à Choux
For a man who is credited with the creation of, the recipe for éclairs is surprisingly simplistic. Pâte à choux, the foundation of any éclair (as well as gougères and profiteroles) is a dough made of butter, water, milk, sugar, and eggs. Similar to the way Louisianans concoct a roux, the dough begins with milk and/or water being added to butter in a pan. Flour and a pinch of sugar and salt follows. The mixture is then piped into the oblong shape synonymous to éclairs.
And the final touches? The filling, the glazing, the toppings, oh my! This is truly where an éclair “finds itself.” Traditionally, éclairs are filled with chocolate or vanilla pastry cream, and topped with a ribbon of chocolate ganache. Yet in true haute cuisine fashion, the rule is such, that there are no rules. Chef Tariq has dreamt up éclairs encapsulating everything from s’mores to apple pie. L’Atelier de L’élclair in Paris sells only éclairs and is credited with the invention of the savory version of this light and airy treat, with “fixings ranging from foie gras to smoked salmon. For now, I think we’ll stick to the classics!