After macarons, cupcakes, and cream puffs, the classic eclair is now enjoying a serious revival in Paris. Here to test the trend, Carin gathered a few knowledgeable sweet freaks to test the goods from Paris’ most notable new eclair shops, l’Eclair de Genie and l’Atelier de l’Eclair. -Geneviève
If you ask people about pastries that remind them of Paris, one that first comes to mind is the classic éclair. A pastry made with pâte à choux, a fluffy cream filling and mouth-watering icing on top — mmmm!
Many of us forgot about this delicious little pastry when adorable macarons and elaborate American cupcakes took the Parisian dessert spotlight over the past couple of years. Thanks to inventive pastry chefs (and probably a general fatigue with everything bite-size), two new Parisian pastry shops, L’Eclair de Genie, and the Atelier de l’Eclair have put the éclair back on the dessert tray.
I have to admit: I haven’t always been a huge fan of the éclair myself. It wasn’t until I stepped inside the newly opened L’Éclair de Génie in the Marais, that I realized I might need to revise my position: seeing miniature éclairs all lined up in different colors and variations made my heart skip a beat. After my first bite of a noisette/praliné éclair, I was sold. I’m now an unabashed éclair convert (under the right circumstances, of course). So when the HiP Paris blog asked me to spend an afternoon exploring new variations on this classic pastry, I jumped at the chance!
Many pâtisseries in Paris make delicious éclairs, but I was interested in finding out more about the places that are taking a different approach to this classic dessert, so L’Éclair de Génie and L’Atelier de l’Éclair were at the top of my list. Judging by the sizeable queue outside L’Atelier de l’Éclair 15 minutes before opening, where savory éclairs are also on offer for breakfast or lunch, you could say Parisians have been won over by the concept.
My goal was to decide which of these new shops warranted a detour if you only had a limited amount of time in Paris. To figure out the answer to this very hard (but extremely sweet) question I enlisted the help of a few people who love desserts just as much as I do. Milsters from Little Pieces of Light, Grace from Will She love Paris?, Diane from Diane, A Broad, Edna from Expat Edna, Melanie from Feed Your Awesome Machine and Sugared & Spiced were all kind enough to help me with this demanding task.
On a recent sunny Sunday morning, we gathered around the table in a cozy Parisian apartment in the Marais, prepared to devour numerous éclairs. I had done my shopping earlier that day and presented three different flavors from L’Atelier de l’Éclair (caramel au beurre salé, chocolat and pistache/abricot) and four different flavors from L’Éclair de Génie (caramel au beurre salé, chocolat/caramel, pistache/orange and framboise/rose). A bottle of champagne was popped and the smackdown began!
The pistachio number from L’Atelier de l’Éclair was received by some as soft and fluffy, while others found the flavor a bit too artificial. L’Éclair de Genié’s pistachio éclair, on the other hand, had “a much better texture and wasn’t as mushy as the one from L’Atelier de l’Éclair,” according to Milsters.
The frosting on the éclairs from L’Éclair de Génie led to a table-wide discussion; Edna, among others, liked that the frosting had a little chew to it, while Diane thought it stuck to her teeth too much. L’Éclair de Genie was the uncontested winner of the caramel au beurre salé round: we all agreed the cream was smoother, the texture more even and the salt ratio more satisfying.
When we tried the chocolate éclair from L’Atelier de l’Éclair the first words out of Edna’s mouth were “American chocolate pudding” and she got a couple of concurring head shakes from around the table. We were again a bit disappointed that the dough wasn’t crispier to offer more contrast to the very creamy filling.
After we all bit into the Chocolat-Caramel éclair from L’Éclair de Génie, the only thing you could hear around the table was a loud and very satisfied “Mmmmmm!” It was everything we wanted and more; crispy on the outside, creamy on the inside, exquisite flavors of chocolate and caramel… Although, as Melanie pointed out, this was not a traditional éclair (it is literally dipped in chocolate and nuts), that did not keep it from being the crowd favorite.
It was a close call, but all things considered we decided a second visit to L’Éclair de Génie was in order. We were won over by the amazing texture, the smooth cream filling, the numerous different variations, and carefully thought-out decoration on each of the pastries. Don’t get me wrong, the éclairs from L’Atelier de l’Éclair were good too, and I would probably not say no to a follow-up taste test…
L’Éclair de Génie
14 Rue Pavée, 75004
Tel: +33 (0)1 42 77 85 11
Métro: St Paul
Open: Tuesday – Sunday, 11am – 7:30pm
L’Atelier de l’Éclair
16 Rue Bachaumont, 75002
Tel: +33 (0)1 42 36 37 94
Open: Every day, 11am – 8pm
- Paris Daily Photo takes a closer look at L’Atlelier de l’Éclair
- The 5 best places for éclairs in Paris? Le Figaro shares their suggestions with us
- I Prefer Paris pays a visit to L’Éclair de Génie