I was at my desk and trying to woo a couple of new ideas for a blog post and I realised that my hunger pangs weren’t letting me focus. As I was about to get up to go the kitchen to see what I could creatively serve myself, Anusuya called up on my mobile.
‘Hi there, Arvind. Can you join for an interesting éclair-making session with Chef Vikas Shrivastava, Executive Pastry Chef and Chef Shashank Khanna?’ Now obviously this was a great opportunity to not just meet Anusuya, the Director of Marketing Communications with Le Meridien, but also to gets a hands-on session with making something that I have always loved gorging! So there I went on a day which dawned as a rather pleasant one… and was lucky enough to meet a few other Food Bloggers like Sangeeta Khanna, Mukta Varma, Anita Tikoo, and Aditya Banerjee.
The Executive Pastry Chef began by telling us that they get enough creative licence at meridian to experiment with local flavours and there are some that are followed internationally in all the kitchen of the hotel. I loved this convergence of discipline with creativity and along with sips of refreshing watermelon juice we began out tryst with éclair-making.
‘Remember,’ said Vikas Shrivastave, ‘the secret of getting the right form of choux paste for éclairs is 1-4-6-18.’ And then he told us that this simply meant 01 liter of water, 400 grams of butter, 600 grams of refined flour, and 18 eggs to get the best consistency for baking the softest mouth-melting éclairs.
‘The Meridian method’, Shashank said, ‘was quite simple and worth sharing.’
How to get the right choux paste?
Boil 01 litter of water with 400 grams of butter in a sauce pan.Add 600 grams of refined flour and stir vigorously with the wooden spatula until the mixture starts leaving the sides of the sauce pan and is smooth.
Remove the mixture from the range and start steering in the eggs one by one with the help of a whisk.
When all the eggs have been absorbed the choux paste is ready to be shaped into éclairs.
Now, once you have your éclairs ready, all you need is pastry cream… which can then be filled in to give that delicious inner core… and the éclairs can then be dipped to give their surface a lovely flavoured glaze. The final touch is, of course, what the beauty blogger would call ‘the shimmer and the glamour’.
The pastry creams for our inexperienced hands included Rose Cardamom, Jaggery Ginger, Passion Fruit, Hazelnut Praline, Vanilla, and Chocolate. ‘You can have the same inner core and the outer glaze,’ said Vikas, ‘but you can always experiment with deeper and more sensitive combinations.’
So after the girls had done their bit, Sangeeta said, ‘Aren’t you boys going to create some awesome flavour combo for us? Or will you just click our pictures?’
‘Aha!’ I said, and went ahead to create one… and believe me, the act of creating a delicious creation is far more mesmerizing than just sitting and eating one. I’m sure my wife agrees with me. The truth is that I was tempted to gobble up more than one éclair that the Chef had made and served.
For the readers who are interested in knowing the Meridien recipe for a great tasting pastry cream, Vikas has shared one. The Jaggery Ginger Pastry Cream image explains all the finer details.
The process in pictures:
29 March 2014
This post was published in ‘The Education Post’ dated 31 March 2014…
Note: This review article is published in ‘The Education Post’ of 31 March 2014