Russian eclairs or Заварное пирожное.
Russian eclairs or Заварное пирожное is a very delicious dessert and my mother-in-law is an expert when it comes to making them. She worked in a bakery during the times of the Soviet Union and this is just one of the many delicatessens that she can make.
For my birthday last year she arrived with a container filled to the brim. Like a flash people were looking at the content and had a ooh and aah-moment. I didn`t recognize it at the time because the round cream puffs didn`t look like the oblong chocolate eclairs that I know from back home.
What is an éclair and where do they originate from?
It is a long oblong shaped cream-filled pastry that originated during the nineteenth century in France. The word comes from French éclair ‘flash of lightning.’ It makes sense because when my mother-in-law opened the plastic container people were there in a flash of lightning!
In France it was also known as “pain à la duchesse”or “petite duchesse” until 1850. Interesting that in 1884 an English recipe was published in the Boston Cooking School Cook Book by Mrs. D.A. Lincoln! She called it “Cream Cakes”.
The eclairs (Zavarnoje Piroghnoje) that we ate in Russia were delicious! I think what made them extra tasty is the quality of the milk. Mom buys milk from the farmers and you can just imagine how creamy it is. It was also extra special because Mom is 80-years old and she made this especially for my birthday!
Andrey explained to me that people in Russia normally don`t make Zavarnoje Piroghnoje (Éclairs) at home. It is not a time issue but basically it boils down to an acquired skill. Mom made this for many years in the bakery that she worked for. Today most people will go and buy it directly from the supermarkets or bakery.
In some parts of the United States,Long Johns are marketed under the name éclairs, but they are not identical. A Long John uses donut pastry and is typically filled with vanilla pudding or custard, making it a simpler and inexpensive alternative to the éclair.
What does an éclair taste like?
Ask a two-year old!
For the people who would like to try and make eclairs at home, I am including a recipe and a very helpful video tutorial.
Eclair Recipe published in the Boston Cooking School Book:
1 cup hot water
1/2 teaspoonful salt
1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 cup pastry flour
5 eggs, yolks and whites beaten separately
Boil the water, salt, and butter. When boiling, add the dry flour, stir well for five minutes, and when cool add the eggs. This is such a stiff mixture, many find it easier to mix with the hand, and some prefer to add the eggs whole, one at a time. When well mixed, drip, in tablespoonful’s, on a buttered baking-pan, some distance apart. Bake twenty to thirty minutes, or till brown and well pugged. Split when cool, and fill with cream.
Eclairs–bake the Cream Cake mixture in pieces four inches long and one and a half wide. When cool, split and fill with cream. Ice with chocolate or vanilla frosting.
Cream for Cream Cakes and Eclairs.
1 pint milk, boiled
2 tablespoonfuls cornstarch
3 eggs, well beaten
3/4 cup sugar
1 salt spoonful salt, or
1 teaspoonful butter
Wet the cornstarch in cold milk, and cook in the boiling milk ten minutes. Beat the eggs; add the sugar and the thickened milk. Cook in the double boiler five minutes. Add the salt or butter, and when cool, flavor with lemon, vanilla, or almond.”
—Boston Cooking School Cook Book, Mrs. D.A. Lincoln 
Where: Kalinigrad,Russian Federation
When: 18 June 2012