For our Secret Garden menu, I wanted to make a truly elegant dessert. Eclairs (one of my greatest weaknesses) immediately sprang to mind. Of course, they needed to fit the theme of the story, and what better way to tie in the garden than adding a little floral touch? Thus, these lavender lemon eclairs were born! I’m not normally into flower-flavored things, but I found these to be light, sweet, and fragrant in all the right ways. The lavender-infused pastry cream perfectly complements the lemon glaze. I used a pate a choux (that’s pastry dough) recipe from Flavor the Moments and made a variation on a pastry cream recipe from Ricón Cocina. Enjoy!
Lavender Lemon Eclairs
” At first it seemed that green things would never cease pushing their way through the earth, in the grass, in the beds, even in the crevices of the walls. Then the green things began to show buds and the buds began to unfurl and show color, every shade of blue, every shade of purple, every tint and hue of crimson.”
— The Secret Garden
- For the Pastry and Glaze:
- 1 cup water
- 8 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 cup flour
- 4 eggs, thoroughly beaten
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 3 tsp lemon juice
- approx. 4 tbsp lavender blossoms (for sprinkling)
- For the Cream:
Makes 16 large eclairs
- Since the milk for the cream will need time to steep, we’ll start with that and work on our pastry dough while it sits. First, cut your vanilla bean in half lengthwise, scrape out the seeds, and set the seeds aside. Combine your whole milk, vanilla bean halves, and 1 1/2 tbsp lavender in a saucepan. Gently bring it all to a boil, whisking regularly to prevent it from developing a skin on top or an overcooked layer on the bottom. As soon as it boils, turn off the heat. Set the pan aside and let it steep for 1 hour.
- Now we’ll make our pastry dough. Move your oven racks to the top and bottom positions in your oven and preheat it to 400°. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats and set aside.
- Melt the butter, water, and salt together in a large saucepan on low heat. Then turn up the heat to medium and bring it to a boil.
- Turn off the heat and pour in all the flour. Stir it all up quickly with a nonstick, non-metal utensil (wooden spoon, non-metal spatula, etc.) until it’s fully incorporated. Turn the heat back on to medium and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
- Transfer the dough to a standing mixer with a paddle attachment. It’s very hot, so we’ll want to temper the dough with the eggs a little at a time, to prevent it from scrambling them. Let the mixer run on medium speed for 2 minutes, to cool the dough a bit. With the mixer still running, add the eggs 2 tbsp at a time, allowing each addition to fully incorporate before adding more.
- Fit a piping bag with a 1/2 inch round tip and fill the bag with the dough. Pipe 8 4-inch long lines on each prepared baking sheet, placing them 2 inches apart. Place one baking sheet on the top wrack and one on the bottom. Bake for 20 minutes, then turn the heat down to 350°. Rotate the sheets top to bottom and front to back, baking for another 20 minutes. Turn off the oven and let the sheets sit inside for 10 minutes. Move the pastries to a wire wrack to cool.
- By now, your milk should be done steeping. Put it on low heat and bring it back to a simmer, whisking it every couple minutes to prevent a skin from developing. While you wait, thoroughly whisk together your 5 eggs, 2 egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch, vanilla bean seeds, and kosher salt in a medium bowl.
- When your milk simmers, turn off the heat and pass it through a strainer to get out the lavender flowers and vanilla beans. Whisk 3 tbsp of the hot milk into the egg mix (we’re tempering the eggs just like we tempered the dough earlier). When the milk is fully incorporated, continue to whisk in more milk 3 tbsp at a time until you’ve added a total of 12 tbsp to the egg mix.
- Whisk the tempered egg mixture into the remainder of the hot milk. Set the pan over medium heat and whisk constantly until the mixture begins to thicken (about 3 minutes). When the mixture starts to bubble, whisk for 1 more minute. It should have a custard-like texture and a buttery yellow color.
- Cover the container of pastry cream with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 35-45 minutes. While you wait, cut your pastries in half lengthwise.
- In a small bowl, mix together your powdered sugar and lemon juice with a fork until you reach spreading consistency.
- When the pastry cream is fully cooled, give it a quick whisk and transfer it to a piping bag fitted with a 1/2 inch round tip. Pipe 3 large swirls onto the bottom half of each pastry and place the second half on top.
- Spread a little lemon icing on the top of each pastry and sprinkle some lavender blossoms on top.
- Serve at a garden party at a fine English manor. 🙂