Almond Ginger Éclairs
January 30, 2018
Failure Is Always Worth Sharing
Welp. Here it is: another “failed bake”. I was recently scrolling through Instagram stories, and one of my favorite food bloggers mentioned that she seemed to be in a creative & culinary rut — aka she was going through a “failed bake” moment and thus couldn’t share her work with everyone.
A couple months ago, I think I would have felt the same. If I had to use words to describe such emotions, I would probably pick a mixture of frustrated & ashamed. There is nothing more heartbreaking than producing a “failed bake” after gearing up excitement to share your product with the public.
My perception of this notion changed rapidly after reading an article on one one of my favorite food & lifestyle websites, Food52. Titled The One Piece of Julia Child Advice I Live By, Emma Laperruque highlights a recipe developer’s natural obsession to achieve perfection — especially for those who cook for work. While this obsession is an important skill to have, she essentially asserts (as Julia Child did) that bringing such perfectionist values into the home kitchen is a recipe for disaster. What is the point in moping over a product that may be faulty by your standards, when it will only result in ruining the perfect atmosphere. Pretend to not be embarrassed and let your guests pretend to love your faulty foods.
Originally, I had no intention of posting this recipe, because, by my obsessive standards, it was not “perfect” enough — aka my indecisive mind couldn’t decide how thick I wanted to pipe my batter & my impatience causing some of the baked éclairs to deflate. So really, not a huge deal. But I was reminded of how profoundly correct this article - and Julia Childs - are. Fortunately, I did continue with this project because the photo composition and lighting came out beautifully, and I wouldn’t have been able to exercise practice in that aspect had given up on my failures.
I decided to make this recipe because it contains two of my favorite flavors that are actually quite common in Chinese cuisine, especially in terms of desserts & pastries. The classic almond flavor pairs beautifully with the crisp, spicy ginger in the éclair shells. Of course, don’t make the same mistake I did and actually leave the pastries in the oven for the allotted time…or you could bake a “failed bake” to see the beauty of Julia Childs’s genius inside & outside of the kitchen.
Ingredients (inspired by David Lebovitz’s Recipe)
makes five 4-inch puddings
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1/4 cup granulated white sugar
- 1 tsp almond extract
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 2 egg yolkds
- 1+1/2 tsp cornstarch
- 1 tbs. unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 tbsp. powdered sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/4 cup whole milk
- 1/4 cup butter, unsalted
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup bread flour
- 2 tbsp. powdered sugar
- 2 tsp ground ginger
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 2-3 large eggs
- Combine the water, milk, butter, and vanilla in a saucepan over medium heat.
- Once the mixture boils, dump in the flour, ground ginger, and powdered sugar all at once. Remove from heat and vigorously stir until the flour is fully incorporated.
- Return the dough to low heat and continue mixing until a thin layer of film forms on and sticks to the bottom of the pan.
- Transfer the dough to a mixing bowl and leave to cool for 10 minutes.
- In a separate bowl, crack the eggs and whisk until combined.
- Pour a small amount (about 1/4) of the eggs into the dough and mix until fully incorporated. Continue this process, adding more egg only until the previous addition is fully incorporated.
- Transfer the choux dough to a pastry big with a round tip.Trace the outline of a round, flat object of 9 inches in diameter on to a parchment lined baking sheet. Pipe a ring of choux outside the outline, an adjacent ring one inside the outline, and finally one ring on top of the two.
- Bake in a preheated 190C/375F degree oven for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Reduce the temperature to 175C/350F and bake for an additional 20 minutes. Turn the oven off and let the choux cool for one hour.
- Whisk the egg yolks and sugar in a bowl until smooth. Set aside
- In a small saucepot, combine the milk, sugar, vanilla extract, and almond extract and heat to a simmer.
- Slowly pour the milk into the egg yolk mixture while whisking constantly.
- Return the mixture to the saucepot and heat over medium heat, whisking constantly until the pastry cream thickens. Add the butter and whisk until smooth.
- Transfer to a clean bowl and cover with cling wrap, making sure it touches the surface of the pastry cream. Place in the fridge to cool.
- Whip the cream and powdered sugar to medium peaks and fold into the chilled pastry cream.
- Once the éclair shells have cooled, slice each shell along its in half with a serrated knife.
- Fill the bottom of each shell with the Almond Crème Diplomat. Cover with the top shell
- Dust with powdered sugar before serving.