Think Eclairs Are Just for Dessert?
Most people think of eclairs as something filled with cream and topped with chocolate, or some other decadent sweet flavor pairing. However, the pastry they're prepared with—the ever versatile choux pastry—is an excellent casing for savory ingredients, too, like for these tasty and beautiful bacon, avocado, and tomato eclairs.
Verdant as a garden with bright green avocado mousse, layers of finely sliced tomatoes, and shards of crunchy, salty bacon, these little bundles are packed with heart-and-soul-satisfying flavor and texture in every bite. They also deliver an elegant play on a good, old-fashioned American BLT. For a fun cocktail party with a choux twist, make the pastry a day ahead (or a few days ahead and freeze), for quick, easy assembly. This would even be a great, sexy treat for your main man or gal on Valentine's Day. I guarantee you, they'll fly away faster than wings on Super Bowl Sunday. Dress them up with a flute of Brut Champagne and cheers!
Petite Eclairs with Avocado Mousse, Bacon Slivers and Tomatoes
(Yields 26 petite eclairs)
For the Pastry:
Special Equipment Needed: 2 silicon baking sheets or parchment paper, 2 half-sheet baking pans, one 12” piping bag, #806 round pastry tip, pastry brush.
1 cup water
3/4 stick (3 ounces) unsalted, cold butter cut into 1/2”-cubes
1/2 cup bread flour
1/2 cup All-Purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
4 room temperature large eggs (about 1 cup), beaten together
1 Master Savory Choux Pastry (recipe to follow)
For the egg wash:
1 egg, splash water and pinch kosher or sea salt, beaten together
For the avocado mousse:
1 ripe avocado, halved, pitted, and skin removed
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon heavy cream (Do NOT substitute a lesser fat cream or it may curdle with the lemon juice)
Sea or kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons very finely chopped shallots
2 tablespoons finely chopped chives
8 slices bacon, browned, drained and cut into 3”-lengths
14 grape tomatoes, rinsed and thinly sliced
For the Pastry:
Preheat the oven to 425F. Have everything measured and in place in advance of starting to actually prepare the choux.
In a medium, sturdy sauce pan, melt the water and butter together over medium high heat, stirring once or twice to help the butter melt. Once melted, reduce the heat to medium. Sift together the bread flour, AP flour and salt together over a medium bowl. Add the sifted dry ingredients all at once to the melted water and butter mixture, reserving the bowl nearby. Stir the mixture (roux) vigorously with a wooden spoon to bring the dough together, initially. Continue stirring, less vigorously, until the pastry starts to pull away from the sides of the pan and forms a uniform ball. Turn the pastry out into the reserved bowl. Allow to sit for about 1 minute, or until the pastry is cool enough to touch comfortably with your finger for at least 15 seconds. Add 1/2 of the beaten eggs (about 1/2 cup) to the pastry. Stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until the pastry looks uniform and glossy, about 1 minute. Add half of the remaining egg mixture (about 1/4 cup) and continue to stir with a wooden spoon until the pastry is uniform and glossy (about 1 minute). Repeat with the remaining egg mixture.
While the pastry is still warm, pipe and bake the pastry using a 1/2"-round tip onto a silicon or parchment paper lined baking sheet. Pipe so that the eclairs are all the same length and width, approximately 2 1/4"-long, 1/2"-high and 1/2"-wide. Brush the top of each pastry with a light coating of egg wash, being careful not to allow the wash to drip down the sides of the pastry.
Bake the petite eclairs for 22 to 25 minutes, or until puffed and golden brown. Turn off the oven, open the door, and let the pastry stand for 5 minutes. Pierce the bottom of each choux gently with the tip of a knife. Allow to cool completely before filling.
For the Filling:
In a medium bowl, combine the avocado, lemon juice, olive oil, cream, and mash with the tines of a fork or a potato masher until smooth and fluffy. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed. Fold in the shallots and chives and combine until smooth. Set aside. (Note: The mousse can be prepared a few hours in advance, tightly covered and refrigerated). Meanwhile, heat a large sauté pan over medium high heat. Arrange the bacon in a single layer in a large sauté pan and cook until well browned on each side, about 3 minutes per side. Remove from the pan and drain on paper towels. Cut the bacon into 3” lengths (approximately) and set aside.
To assemble, slice the prepared eclairs in half, horizontally, cutting all the way through each éclair. Reserve the tops and bottoms alongside their matching half. With a small spatula, spread a heaping 1 tablespoon of the avocado mousse neatly on the bottom of each éclair. Top with a trimmed piece of bacon and 3 slices of tomato, arranged prettily along the length of the éclair. Top each éclair and serve immediately on a serving platter or individual plates garnished with fresh chives.