Clever Cristel of Cafe de Paris

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A few weeks ago, my friend Samantha’s sister, Cristel, set up a mini patisserie at the Glebe Market in Sydney, Cafe de Paris. I am very envious of Cristel. She is a smart cookie (or macaron perhaps…!), and makes amazing éclairs. And the macarons look good too.

There is only one thing wrong with Cristel, and that is she now lives in Sydney but really should move back to Hobart and open a patisserie. Goodness knows it is needed and there is definitely a gap in the market!

To prove how clever she is, I have posted some pictures of Cristel and her lovely French treats, which were taken at the Glebe market.

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Hayley the pâtissier…c’est possible?

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Who needs a local pâtisserie (which we don’t have), when I am around?! Last weekend I attempted for only the second time, to make éclairs. Armed with all the ingredients, a spare afternoon and a slightly unreliable oven, I set out to improve on my last effort which were slightly overdone and contained crème pâtissière which was a bit too thick. The first tray of éclairs into the oven were interesting shapes. It took a while to get used to using the piping bag again, but by the second tray, I had it down pat. Éclairs cooked, it was time to move onto the vanilla crème pâtissière and for wait for that to cool before I could squeeze it into the pastry. Waiting, waiting, waiting…and then it was ready 🙂

Once the crème pâtissière was in and the éclairs were nicely puffed up with the filling, I made chocolate ganache to top them off. The 70% dark chocolate was a nice bitter accompaniment to the sweet filling – and also a sticky mess!

Since I made these éclairs, and had spent most of the afternoon in and out of the kitchen, my thoughts on how good they were may be biased. But they were pretty good. The pastry was much lighter than my first attempt, the crème pâtissière was a good consistency and tasted great, and the chocolate helped balance out the sweetness. I actually went as far to claim to my sister that the pastry might have been better than Jean-Pascal’s…at which point she told me not to get too excited (I still think it was).

The only downfall was that I forgot to double the crème pâtissière recipe, so I ran out. I filled the good éclairs (batches 2 and 3) and left the others (batch 1) unfilled.

Since I am quite quick to critique other éclairs on this blog, I thought it only fair that I seek an independent review. I took three éclairs to work with me for three ‘testers’ to try. The feedback was good. Tester 1, Ben, claimed they were better than La Maison de L’Éclair in Sydney (thank you Ben), Toni said she could have eaten another one (thank you Toni), and Tegan provided me with a written review…so here is what she thought:

1. Looks proper. Good weight. Smells like chocolatey goodness!
2. First taste. Soft pastry with perfect choux. Even though it’s been refrigerated the chocolate is still melting onto fingers which is a good sign.
3. Two bites in. Deargodvanillabeancustardi’minheaven.
4. Three bites in: I am having trouble typing because my eyes are rolling back in my head from pure bliss.
5. Five bites in. It’s nearly over and I’m getting a little upset….
6. It’s finished. I’m coming to eat Ben’s.

Overall: Utterly delicious. The best part was that it wasn’t too sweet, the chocolate had a good level of bitterness which complimented to silky smooth custard perfectly. Even straight from the fridge it was very flavourful (I was too impatient to wait for it to warm up).

Well done Hayley! Consider me your future guinea pig for all treats!

Here is a photographic journey of my afternoon…

Step 1: Get all the bits ready
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Step 2: Stand back and marvel at all the odd sizes and vow to get better next time
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Step 3: Make crème pâtissière and hope it works
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Step 4: Get ganache on the go and wonder if this all took so long last time
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Step 5: Decide against waiting for ganache to set and bite into éclair. Consider career change…
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Straight Up and out the door

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After declaring summer was not the best time to eat éclairs in my last post, today I realised they are not seasonal. On a lovely warm day in Tasmania, I noticed that Straight Up Coffee + Food had posted freshly baked éclairs on their Facebook page. Well, not actually baked them on Facebook (give them time to come up with that app!), but pictures of some in the shop were posted…oh, you get what I mean!

After firstly deciding that I was not travelling into the city to get éclairs, I remembered how rare good éclairs are to come by in this pastry challenged state, so I called the shop and had two éclairs put aside for me. I have been through ‘the last one just sold’ devastation before so was not taking any chances.

Just before we stopped at Straight Up Coffee + Food, my sister and I called in to Vita (Elizabeth Street), for some frozen yoghurt. After we had varying success with the self-serve ice cream setup (neither of us will be working for Mr Whippy anytime soon) and selected our sprinklings, which mainly consisted of odd nut selections and muesli (I found crushed brownies and toasted coconut thank goodness!), we and our sore teeth moved onto Straight Up.

The éclairs were raspberry and passionfruit – a surprising and colourful change to the normal (whipped cream laden) éclairs that are to be found in Hobart. With the frozen yoghurt probably still melting in my belly, the éclairs were taken home for later in the day…which was about 1.5 hours ‘later’! I really liked the white chocolate with the dehydrated raspberry and also the combination of the passionfruit. The only part that confused me a little was the rich chocolate crème pâtissière which seemed a little out of place (but not bad) with the rest of the flavours. Just so happy to see someone trying a different take on éclairs 

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Six ways to boost office productivity

La Maison de l'eclair8Last week was a particularly busy one.  In the busyness of preparing for our Welcome to Port celebrations at work to welcome RV Investigator to Hobart, sugar was one of the main ingredients to keep us moving (no time for a fruit run unfortunately).  On Thursday, at the peak of craziness, Samantha arrived from Sydney with six éclairs from La Maison de l’éclair in Bondi!  Somehow, she thought I was going to eat them all…that was never going to happen!  It was late afternoon before the éclairs were removed from the fridge, after a few queries from some ‘helpers’ about when we would be eating them.

The six éclairs were hazelnut, Mars Bar, Cherry Ripe, Bounty, pistachio and lemon meringue, and three were complete with macarons.  But pretty as they were, the challenge was too big for me.  Jenna took control of the Mars Bar éclair with salted caramel sprinklings on top, Ben devoured the Bounty éclair and told us all about how sweet it was with a pained look on his face all afternoon (practice needed for Ben!), Samantha (‘I will only have half please’) ate the full Cherry Ripe éclair in nearly less time than I ate mine, Tegan managed half of the pistachio éclair (I will sort out the second half), and I devoured the hazelnut éclair – macaron and all!  Lemon meringue still to go…

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These were the sweetest and prettiest éclairs I have tried since Paris and I am looking forward to visiting Sydney in the new year to visit La Maison de l’éclair and sample some more (perhaps their more petite versions so I can try the whole range – in a healthy way!).

I am quite sure that these éclairs helped us all get through a busy day and perhaps even kept us buzzing through to Friday…and we needed it!  Thank you Sam xx

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La Maison de L'éclair Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

A casual éclair

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Scruffy tights, comfy jumper, converse sneakers and makeup free. That was me on Saturday. I had not planned to leave the house. It was exam study day. That was until I heard (or saw) the call of l’eclair. Such is the pull of an éclair, that no sooner than I read the post on Facebook (I follow random tea houses and cafés to monitor any word of éclairs), I was out the door and in the car. I arrived at Heavens Above (feeling like a second chance was in order), profusely apologised for what I called ‘my look’ and launched into a ramble about needing éclairs. The lady had the misfortune of having to tell me they were not ready yet. WHAAATTT? They were mentioned on Facebook so they must be ready. But no – the chocolate was yet to go on. So I ordered three and told them I would call back later.

I returned home and tried to study. Worried that I would suddenly become engrossed in my textbook (unlikely), I set an alarm on my phone to remind me to pick them up (I am 32!). A few hours later beep, beep beep and it was éclair time!

I toddled back up to Heavens Above, in the same attire since it seemed to be accepted the first time, and picked up the éclairs. And a turkish delight hot chocolate. Another second chance. So the éclairs were quite good. Whipped cream aside. The pastry was nice and the chocolate icing was pretty good too. I would have them again, but I think half an éclair next time would be sufficient – there was a lot of cream! And the hot chocolate? A big improvement on last time and very sweet. But pehaps not best consumed at the same time as the éclair.  Again, the cream!

Jam Packed with fantastic frenchy frenchness

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Well it certainly hasn’t been a long time between drinks, but it has been a long time between éclairs. However, last week my éclair drought ended. In spectacular fashion. I had just completed my french lesson and was feeling all joie de vivre, when I decided one way to continue my current mood of frenchness would be to source an éclair.

Now, as loyal followers of this blog would know, Hobart is not the éclair centre of the universe. But I did recall a friend mentioning to me some time ago, that Jam Packed often have éclairs.  As luck would have it, my lessons are held next door. After a quick look around for parking inspectors (my ticket had expired), I dashed into Jam Packed for my éclair fix. Three of these heaven sent pastries were sitting front and centre of the display cabinet. It was meant to be. They are my raison d’être. With two of the éclairs (I am not greedy so I left one) and a vanilla slice safely packed away in a rather oversized carrier bag that did not scream ‘I am a massive pig’ at all, I headed home.

My patience was rewarded and there is a glimmer of hope for Hobart éclairs.  These were very good. Fantastic ganache and crème pâtissière,  even if they had slightly over cooked choux. Now to wait another week for my next french lesson…this close proximity could become a problem…and I wonder what their hot chocolates are like? Hmmmm…

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Jam Packed Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato