Ladurée Patisserie’s La Fraise(French for simplyStrawberry) caught my eye two weeks ago, when I was vacationing in London. After interrogating a sales associate with a barrage of questions, I learned that the interior of La Fraiseconsists of fluffy coconut sponge cake and house-made strawberry compote enrobed in a heavenly strawberry crème mousseline.
The crème is then covered with strawberry-red dacquoise cake, studded with royal icing “seeds”, and impaled with a gum paste stem before being neatly arranged in rows in the Ladurée display case. Don’t be turned off by the cartoony, almost gimmicky appearance of this eye-catching entremet cake; La Fraise is incredibly tasty.
I think I may be a tad obsessed with Japanese pastry chef Sadaharu Aoki. I’m on an Aoki binge. Three weeks ago, I created his legendary salted caramel and milk chocolate tarts using a robot I had built just for the project.
Two weeks ago, I wrote a lengthy éclair tutorial primarily based on his acclaimed (but previously untranslated from Japanese) method. This week, I am sharing the results of my efforts to reverse engineer his black sesame éclair, one of the highest rated pastries in Paris together with his salted caramel and milk chocolate tart.
According to The Chambers English Dictionary, at least in a pre-1970s version, an éclair is “a cake, long in shape but short in duration”. In a standard French dictionary, you’ll find that an éclair is not only a pastry, but also a flash of lightning.
Food historians don’t quite agree as to why the pastry’s name means a flash of lightning in French—some believe the pastry’s moniker is a result of how quickly its eaten (“eaten in a flash”), while others claim its due to the fact that it sparkles when coated with glaze, like lightning. Regardless of its name, éclairs are undoubtedly delicious if made correctly. But they’re usually not.