Strawberries & Mascarpone Cream Éclair
While testing the Saint Honoré recipe from one of our favorite pastry books, my wife and I came up with the idea for a Strawberries & Cream Éclair. Saint Honoré is a famous pastry named for the patron saint of bakers & pastry chefs. It goes without saying that such a thing could only exist in a place like France. This elegant cream puff like pastry lives up to the name never ceasing to amaze with its beautiful flavor & contrasting textures.
The book is La Pâtisserie des Rêves: The Pâtisserie of Dreams, written by Philippe Conticini; one of the most talented Pastry Chefs in France. Making these pastries and flipping through this book instantly flooded my mind with vivid memories of being in Conticini’s (Pastry Shop) Patisserie.
In 2009, while visiting the “City of Lights”, we stumbled into this amazingly modern Parisian Patisserie. The facade is like that of a small boutique with floor to ceiling glass doors and windows, yet still giving off wisps of a traditional French Patisserie. Its interior is reminiscent of an exclusive clothing boutique and jewelry shop mixed into one.
As you enter, there is a massive 2 tiered round table in the center of the room. The table is like a huge cake stand with a smaller one sitting on top. Spread out evenly over the two levels of the table are 15 craters. On the ceiling above is a silver medallion the same diameter as the table. Hanging from the medallion on grey chords are 15 lamps with large bell shaped glass lamp shades and their cylindrical counter-weights. Each lamp sits over a recessed hole that cradles a refrigerated piece of slate with some of the most beautiful pastries you have ever seen gracefully resting on each them. La Pâtisserie des Rêves’ uniqueness resembles no other Patisserie I have ever seen, the place is like an art gallery to display the work of a true master pastry chef.
Two of the pastries that really grabbed my attention that day were the Saint Honoré and this intensely red strawberry dessert. Every time I remember that patisserie and my mind is flooded with memories, those two pastries are just hanging out in the background. The bright red of the strawberry and the creaminess of the Saint Honoré just follow the path of least resistance and become strawberries & cream.
For the Éclair part, Lya had made more Pate a Choux than she needed to make the Saint Honoré from the book. Out of necessity we had to use the dough on something and Éclairs use up more dough than cream puffs.
After some tweaking, we had a full flavored crispy Éclair shell made even more shattery when dipped in a light amber hued caramel. Nestling inside the shell is an ivory cloud of rich Mascarpone flavored Cream Legere which conceals a thin line of squashed ruby colored macerated strawberries. The pastry is finally overlaid with fresh slivers of strawberry that resemble tiny crimson swan wings.