Okay, so today’s recipe is annoyingly seasonal but hopelessly gorgeous. I realize most people don’t have a hefty supply of lilacs at their disposal. And if they do they likely live in a climate where the lilacs are on their way out by now. But look at how pretty these Mini Lilac Eclairs are? Look at them! How could I not share them with you?Jump to Recipe
If you do happen to be lilac-less, don’t lose heart, you can still make this recipe. Making eclairs of any flavor is unsurprisingly pretty much the same. So, if you’re fresh out of florals you can add a bit of vanilla instead or even rose water if you’d prefer to keep it in the blossom family. Eclairs, and by extension choux pastry, are such a fun thing to add to your repertoire and they’re not nearly as difficult as they seem. So, without further ado, let’s make these Mini Lilac Eclairs.
Now, I have a confession to make, these Mini Lilac Eclairs were not intended to be mini, I just piped them that way. A good lesson to take away from my slight mess up: eclairs do not expand as much as cream puffs so pipe accordingly. Eclairs don’t expand as much as cream puffs because they are combed. And what do I mean by “combed”? Well, eclairs are commonly piped with a star tip, while the cream puffs are piped using a clean tip. The star tip gives the eclairs a combed appearance, which aside from being pretty, allows the eclairs to expand evenly as they cook. Cream puffs only need to dome. Eclairs need to expand evenly in all directions. If you don’t happen to have a star tip, you can simply lightly comb the eclairs with a fork after you pipe them. Cool? Cool!
Okay, now let’s talk about this lilac situation. For me, the smell of lilacs is incredibly nostalgic. I grew up in a neighborhood that was lousy with lilac trees. Unsurprisingly, I think it’s a heavenly scent from a heavenly time in my life. So, of course, I constantly want to capture it and eat it. It’s a natural impulse, right?
Well, this task of capturing the fragrance of lilacs in an edible form proved to be much easier said than done. As with most floral notes that aren’t derived from concentrate, lilac is not a particularly strong flavor. So, I took the one-two-punch-approach and created a lilac cream AND lilac sugar. Both undertakings require at least 24 hours of rest. This, of course, requires no effort on your part. But you do have to plan ahead.
Next lilac season I’m considering the even longer approach of creating my own extract by immersing the blooms in overproof vodka. This process takes a minimum of two weeks but I have a hunch it would result in a stronger lilac flavor. But, alas, that is a blog post for another time.
Following their rather lengthy chill out period, I converted the lilac cream and the lilac sugar into a pastry cream. Now, if you’re looking for knock-you-on-your-ass flavor this is not the cream you’re looking for. But if you’re in the market for a well-rounded pastry cream with a floral high note, your search is over. I’m of the opinion that floral notes are best when they are delicate and not overbearing. They can bring a dish into perfume territory so quickly that it is best to use a soft touch. But to each their own. If you could drink rose water straight, you might want to look elsewhere for your lilac-related kicks.
For the glaze, I went for a simple white chocolate coconut oil affair. I added a little purple color gel because aesthetics are everything, darling! And I finished these Mini Lilac Eclairs with a few fresh blooms because they were consumed shortly thereafter. If you’re looking to hold the eclairs for a longer period of time, I would candy the lilacs. Simply brush the flowers with a little egg white, roll them in granulated sugar, and leave them to dry. Easy peasy!
So, that’s everything you need to know about these Mini Lilac Eclairs. All dressed up in a heavenly purple with a soft floral scent, these wee treats are girly decadent perfection.
Mini Lilac Eclairs
- 1 cup lilac blooms green stems removed
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
Lilac Infused Cream
- 1 cup lilac blooms green stems removed
- 1 cup whipping cream
- 1 cup milk
Lilac Pastry Cream
- 1 batch Lilac Infused Cream see above
- 1/2 cup Lilac Sugar see above
- 1 pinch salt
- 5 egg yolks
- 3 tbsp cornstarch
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter cut into chunks
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup milk
- 1 1/4 cup flour
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter cut into chunks
- 1 tsp granulated sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3 eggs
White Chocolate Glaze
- 312 g (11 oz) white chocolate chips
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
- 1/8 tsp purple color gel
For the Lilac Sugar
- Add a third of the sugar to a clean, dry Mason jar. Place a third of the lilac blooms on top and repeat until everything is in the jar.
- Seal the jar and place is a dark, cool place for 2 days, shaking the jar once or twice daily.
For the Lilac Cream
- Pour the milk and cream into a large bowl. Add the blooms and push them below the surface of the cream mixture, so they're fully immersed. Cover the bowl and let sit in the fridge for 24 hours. Strain the cream and chill until ready to use.
For the Lilac Pastry Cream
- Pour the lilac cream and 1/2 cup of the lilac sugar into a small saucepan. Add the salt and place the pan over low heat. Bring to a gentle simmer but not a boil.
- While waiting for the milk mixture to come up to heat, place the egg yolks in a large bowl and add the cornstarch. Whisk until the starch is fully integrated and the yolks turn a pale yellow.
- Pour half of the warm milk mixture into the yolk mixture while whisking constantly. Pour the resulting mixture into the saucepan and place it over medium-low heat. Cook until thick enough to readily coat the back of a spoon. Think the consistency of hot pudding.
- Take the pastry cream off of the heat and immediately stir in the butter. Keep stirring until the butter has melted completely and is fully integrated.
- Force the pastry cream through a fine mesh strainer into a large bowl. Cover and let chill for at least 2 hours.
For the Choux Pastry
- Preheat the oven to 375°F
- Pour the milk and water into a small saucepan. Add the butter and place the pan over medium heat. Stirring constantly, simmer the mixture until the butter has melted completely.
- Add the salt, sugar and flour. Stir to form a thick almost dough-like paste. Cook the paste for 2-3 minutes or until a film forms on the bottom of the pan and the dough starts to smell vaguely like brown butter.
- Transfer the paste to a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on medium-low for 1 minute to cool the mixture off.
- Add one of the eggs to the dough and mix until fully integrated. Scrape down the sides and add the next egg. Repeat in this manner until all the eggs are in and fully integrated.
- Transfer the finished dough to a piping bag fitted with a star tip.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Pipe a small dollop of the choux pastry on each corner of the parchment paper and use it stick the paper to the sheet.
- Pipe the choux pastry onto the parchment paper in a series of straight lines. Slowly count to 5 to yourself to keep the eclairs relatively uniform in length. Wet your index finger in a bowl of cold water and smooth out the flicks and tails at the end of your eclairs.
- Crack an egg into a small bowl and add a tablespoon of water. Whisk to combine. Brush the mixture lightly over the surface of your eclairs and transfer them to the oven.
- Bake the eclairs for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Do not open the oven while they are baking, they may collapse. Take your finished eclairs out of the oven and set aside to cool.
- Using a toothpick create two holes on either end of the base of each eclair. Using a piping bag fitted with a fine round tip, pipe the Lilac pastry cream into each hole until it starts to spill out. Repeat with all the remaining eclairs.
For the Chocolate Glaze
- Place the white chocolate chips, coconut oil and color gel in a medium-sized bowl. Place the bowl in the microwave and heat in 30 second bursts, stirring in between, until the chocolate, oil and color is well integrated, smooth and nearly liquid.
- Dip each eclair in the glaze so the top halves are completely coated. Add a few lilac blooms to each eclair for decoration. Set aside to chill and set completely before serving.