The cupcake is dead, long live the cupcake. Everyone is looking for the next trend, that one simple item that can be customised in a million ways and sold for a fortune.
The man behind L’Éclair de Génie may indeed be a genius. After the multi-coloured macarons, the American cupcakes, on the heels of Popelini’s range of cute choux puffs, comes the éclair in infinite flavours. Christophe Adam knows what he is doing – not least because he made the éclair into a luxury item at Fauchon back in 2003 – because he now has a designer boutique in the Marais, that sells only éclairs and truffles. Even at 4.50-5€ each, it is apparently doing so well after only six weeks he plans to open another shop straightaway.
I had to see what all the fuss was about – and to see, more importantly if his éclairs could beat the neighbouring pasteis de nata. Those custard tarts are my favourite example of one quality product, made fresh and perfect every day.
The boutique is egg-yellow and white, with elegant vendeuses wearing sleek black gloves. The line of éclairs stretches almost the length of the shop, a rainbow selection adorned with rose petals, striped icing and the Christophe Adam classic: arty transfers that make the pastry into a Louvre-worthy painting. I paid €14 (somewhat begrudgingly) for three small eclairs and carried the box home as if it contained delicate jewels.
The choux pastry seemed just right – not too tough nor too flimsy. The cream inside was liquid silk. Pistachio and orange was more subtle than I expected, the crème de pistache the palest green with just a touch of bitter orange. The Madagascan vanilla covered with a rubble of toasted pecans was a nice contrast of textures – with enough real vanilla seeds to pop between your teeth if you listened carefully. While the lemon and yuzu was rich and lovely, the extra-bitter twist that should have been the yuzu flavour – another ingredient à la mode at the moment – was a little lost. But that is the only criticism I can find; they were excellent eclairs. Well, that and the cost. Half the size of a boulangerie éclair, and twice the price. But they are special enough to rival even my beloved custard tarts. L’Éclair de Génie is inspired.
*The name means ‘a flash of inspiration.’