The Éclair is a fine, often kept-cool pastry dessert native to Ithania. Originally developed by famed Ithanian chef Guy de Mont-Villeirs, the Éclair has since exploded into a dish accessible and eaten by the nobility, merchant and middle classes of the Regalian Empire and wider Aloria. Éclairs are oblong pastries filled with cream and a layer of chocolate on the top, and makes use of choux dough, a unique dough that rises thanks to moisture, not rising agents.
Éclairs are suspected to have been based off of earlier or cruder pastries enjoyed by the early Ithanian Ailor, likely themselves derived from Altalar desserts of a similar sort. After the Cataclysm and the official development of the Ithanian Culture, the Éclair was, for a long time, forgotten. Eventually, in around 140 AC, the Ithanian chef Guy de Mont-Villeirs either rediscovering the long neglected pastry, or adapted it from his existing knowledge into a dish to serve his mistress, the Ithanian Sovereign Dominique Victois Singerie Tomaise Looxois Lefeuronne. She deeply enjoyed them, and a decade later, when the Regalian Empire landed, the festivities around the signing of the deal of vassalage, she had them served to her guests and new partners in nationhood. The Regalians were also impressed by this dish, among others, and ultimately lured Guy to the Imperial Court in 162 AC to serve the Regalian Emperor Henri III and when he died, his son, Lilienmar III. Guy died in 172 AC, but his legacy lived on as the Éclair continued into the popularity it retains to this day. Many Ithanian sweet and bakery shops proudly make Éclairs of various types for eager, well paying customers, as do private chefs in serving many noble and aristocratic families across Aloria.
Éclairs are made from three major parts; the choux dough used to form the shell, the cream filling, and then the chocolate glaze that goes on top. Some vary the appearance or flavoring for Éclairs, but for the sake of simplicity, this is the base version. To make the choux dough, the water, milk, butter, sugar, and salt must all be combined together and heated in a medium saucepan. Once these ingredients have been sufficiently blended and ultimately boiled, they should be removed from the heat with the flour mixed in afterward. Once the mixture is, again sufficiently blended, the pan should be put back over the heat and stirred for up to two minutes (though a minute and a half is the usual time). The substance should then be put into a large mixing bowl and vigorously beaten for around a minute, cooling it off. Then, one at a time, the eggs should be added as the beating continues until the dough is smooth and forms ribbons when pulled up. The dough should then be piped onto prepared baking trays, each strip measuring about 4 inches in length and equally spaced apart. They should then be baked at a high temperature for ten minutes, before reducing the temperature to a medium heat and continuing the baking for a further half-hour. They should then be removed and left to sit.
For the creation of the cream, the milk and vanilla beans should be brought to a boil in a saucepan, with stirring to prevent the formation of a film on top of the mixture. At the same time, in a separate bowl, the sugar, cornstarch, and salt are whisked together. The eggs should then be added into the same mixture, and whisked together again until the substance is smooth and creamy (which may take up to five minutes). Gradually, and in a single poured stream, the hot milk mixture should be added into the bowl of ingredients. Once they are combined, the substance should then be returned to the saucepan to be boiled while also being whisked. Once the boil has been achieved, the substance should be removed from the heat and whisked for around 30 seconds, until it is thick and pudding-like. The cream should be placed into a bowl and gradually, the butter should be added in. Ideally, it should be cut into smaller parts and added as the substance is quickly whisked. It should then be tightly sealed away after being left to cool for a time, further being left for 30 minutes. At this point, the substance should now be piped into the Éclair shells, before being placed in a cool or cold location.
The final step is the simplest. To create the glaze, the heavy whipping cream must be left to heat until it has begun to simmer. It should then be removed and poured over the chocolate chips in a bowl. The substance should be whisked together, proceeding from the center outward with each motion until smooth. The chocolate glaze can then be placed on the chilled pastry, or the pastry can be dipped into it, with the runoff simply allowed to drip off. The dish is best served the day of, but can be kept intact for a day or two if properly stored.
- Éclairs are oblong pastries with a bakery-brown-white tone to its surface. One end is open, and features the telltale white cream obviously found within, while the top of the pastry is covered in a layer of dark brown chocolate.
- Éclairs have a slightly sweet aroma, but as they are kept cold, not much else is detected.
- Éclairs have a sweet and varied taste, with the cream in the middle often complimenting the chocolate and surrounding choux pastry well.
- Éclairs are often made in limited amounts by bakeries or pastry shops given their complex creation time, and requirement to keep chilled.
- Despite being made by de Mont-Villiers and being called an Éclair, the dessert has very little to do with the Villiers-Eclaire Order, though the knights are fairly good-spirited when the alleged connotation is brought up.