Recipes·Star Baker

Cherry Blossom Festival Eclairs

This week’s Star Baker, Vincent, blossomed with his Signature Bake.

This week’s Star Baker, Vincent, blossomed with his Signature Bake

This week’s Star Baker, Vincent, blossomed with his Signature Bake. (Geoff George/The Great Canadian Baking Show)

Celebrate cherry blossom season all year round with these festive eclairs!

Originating in France, the eclair is a delicate pastry that’s traditionally filled with a vanilla-flavoured cream. However, there’s plenty of room for variation when it comes to eclairs, making them an ideal candidate for this week’s Signature Bake round.

This recipe consists of the airy yet crisp choux pastry eclairs are known for, a light cream filling teeming with cherry flavour, a rich chocolate ganache and a decorative floral garnish made from white chocolate.

Cherry Blossom Festival Eclairs were Star Baker Vincent’s Signature Bake for Celebration Week in Season 5 of The Great Canadian Baking Show.

Cherry Blossom Festival Eclairs

By Vincent Chan

Ingredients

  • ½ cup (113 g) unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp granulated sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 cup (142 g) all-purpose flour
  • 5 eggs, beaten

Choux Pastry:

  • 1 cup water

Egg Wash:

  • 1 egg
  • ⅛ tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 tbsp 35% cream

Cherry Pastry Cream

  • 2 cups (226 g) frozen cherries, thawed
  • 2 tbsp cherry liqueur, optional
  • ½ cup (56 g) cornstarch
  • ¾ cup plus 2 tbsp (161 g) granulated sugar, divided
  • 9 egg yolks
  • 3⅓ cups whole milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 drop red food colouring
  • 24 liqueur-soaked cherries, halved

Chocolate Ganache:

  • 2 generous cups (350 g) semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
  • ⅔ cup 35% cream

White Chocolate Blossoms:

  • 1 cup (170 g) white chocolate, finely chopped, divided
  • 1 or 2 drops pink oil-based food colouring
  • Gold dragées

Preparation

Eclairs:
Heat the oven to 425 F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and draw two rows of six 5-inch-long lines, about 2½ inches apart. Flip the parchment over so the marks show through from the underside; these will be your guides to pipe the eclairs.

Combine the water, butter, sugar and salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.

Remove the mixture from the heat and stir in the flour vigorously with a wooden spoon until combined.

Return the saucepan to the heat and continue to stir vigorously until there is a film on the bottom of the pan.

Transfer the dough to a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low until the steam rising from the dough has subsided and the dough is lukewarm, about 3 minutes. 

Slowly add about one-fifth of the beaten eggs at a time, incorporating fully in between additions until all but one-fifth remains. Lift the beaters up and observe how the batter falls back into the bowl: the batter should run off the beaters in a V shape. If it falls off in chunks, add the rest of the eggs and incorporate. 

Transfer the batter to a large piping bag fitted with a ½-inch round tip. Pipe uniform lines of batter onto the prepared baking sheet.

Make the egg wash by whisking together the egg, salt and cream in a small bowl. Brush the piped batter gently with the egg wash.

Bake the eclairs for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to 375 F and continue to bake until golden brown, about 25 minutes. 

Transfer the eclairs onto a cooling rack. Cool completely. 

Cherry Pastry Cream:
Place the cherries in a food processor and blend until medium-fine in texture. 

Transfer the cherries to a medium saucepan and add the cherry liqueur if desired. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring often, until the cherries have reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Whisk together the cornstarch and about half of the sugar in a large heatproof bowl. Add the egg yolks and whisk to combine.

In a medium saucepan, bring the milk and remaining sugar to a boil.

Remove the milk mixture from the heat and slowly whisk it into the egg mixture. Transfer everything back into the saucepan, return it to medium-high heat and continue to whisk until boiling and thickened. Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir the cherries, vanilla and food colouring into the pastry cream.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with plastic wrap and spread the pastry cream evenly onto the sheet. Top with plastic wrap and place in the fridge to cool completely.

Chocolate Ganache:
Place the chocolate in a medium-sized heatproof bowl.

Heat the cream in a medium saucepan until just steaming. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and let it sit for 5 minutes. 

Stir the mixture until smooth and set aside to cool slightly, until the ganache is thickened but not set.

White Chocolate Blossoms:
Temper the chocolate according to the brand specifications. Stir in the food colouring, one drop at a time, until the chocolate is a uniform light pink. Transfer the chocolate to a small pastry bag fitted with a writing tip. 

Line a baking sheet with parchment. Pipe the outline of 12 five-petaled flowers about 2 inches in diameter. Place four or five dragées into the centre of each flower. Set aside to set.

Assembly:
Cut each eclair in half lengthwise. 

Stir the cooled pastry cream until it is smooth and transfer to a piping bag fitted with a ½-inch open star tip. Pipe the bottom half of each eclair evenly with the pastry cream. Top the cream evenly with four cherry halves, then cover with the top halves of the eclairs. 

Put the ganache in a piping bag, pipe a line of it on top of each eclair and smooth it out slightly with a small offset spatula. Top each eclair with a white chocolate blossom.

Makes 12 eclairs 

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