By Willem Blom
Over the years the Éclair always has been a popular pastry with Flying Star Cafe and prior with Double Rainbow. This beautiful and tasty pastry was created by Antonin Careme (1784 – 1833). Careme was one of the great French chefs known as The King of Chefs and the Chef of Kings and considered the creator of Haute Cuisine. Auguste Escoffier took Careme’s idea of Haute Cuisine and this became the French Cuisine as it is still known today. In the ever changing world of food many modern chefs are putting in their newer and lighter versions. The Éclair stuck around and slowly spread around the world and is appreciated everywhere, the American Long John is a very distant cousin. Basically the Éclair is Pate a Choux (literally – “cabbage”) or puff paste with icing on top and the filling changing by country. Examples are vanilla cream, coffee cream, chocolate cream, whipped cream or seasonally chestnut cream. Pate a Choux consists of egg yolks, water and flour and is cooked on the stove first then piped on sheet pans with a pastry bag and baked. This is the way I was trained back in Holland by some of old fashioned chefs.
Its popularity really took off with Flying Star Cafe after Mark Bernstein our owner got his hands on it and decided that it was lacking some WOW. He took Careme’s creation and made it as big as he wanted to eat. Then he saw a 50”s “B” movie – Attack of the 50 Ft Woman which gave him the idea of making the éclair as big as you know it today. Originally he named it the Attack of the Giant Éclair, but the name has got shortened. This new and improved Mark Bernstein Éclair has a huge following and it became a topic of conversation and an eating and sharing event. We have some customers who don’t share and want it for breakfast and polish it off by lunch time. It’s always a good time for dessert we understand. At the Flying Star pastry kitchen we make it fresh every day with all our other pastries and we are sure that Careme would be proud of what became of his creation. Antonin would feel like it is a compliment, I am sure of that.