Eclair fever hits Singapore
MOVE over macarons and cupcakes, the next big thing in the confectionery scene could just well be the eclair.
L'ECLAIR BY SARAH MICHELLE
190 Clemenceau Avenue,
Singapore Shopping Centre, #01-28
Tuesday to Friday, 11am to 8pm; Saturday, 11am to 9pm; Sunday, 11am to 6pm; closed on Mondays
Last Christmas, pastry chef Michelle Looi had the daunting task of piping 1,000 eclairs by hand on her own in her home, to fulfil orders for friends and family over the festive period.
These days, she has extra help. Together with fellow pastry chef Sarah Tan, the two women, both 26, are the owners of L'eclair By Sarah Michelle, a pastry shop which focuses on eclairs.
In 2013, after working for six months in an accounting firm, Ms Looi decided to pursue her love for baking and attended a course at the culinary arts school Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. She roped in Ms Tan to attend the diploma in pastry making course as well, as the latter liked cooking and baking, and wanted to open a cafe of her own.
"We found that pastry shops, such as Fauchon and L'eclair de Genie, were selling eclairs that were unlike those we had seen in Singapore," said Ms Tan, adding that the eclair trend also spread to London, Bangkok and Taipei.
"There was nothing similar in Singapore, and we wondered why this trend had not reached our shores," said Ms Looi.
From their classic collection, there are flavours such as ispahan, made from light rose cream, lychees and fresh raspberries, as well as dark chocolate, salted caramel, and vanilla and pecans. From their seasonal collection, there are mango passionfruit, banana and walnut, and earl grey, which is Ms Tan's favourite. The eclairs cost from $7.50 to $8.50 depending on the flavour.
Ms Tan said their eclairs have a tender choux pastry filled with flavoured cream, and are artfully garnished with glaze and toppings. "We try to add crunchy elements, so as to give the eclairs more texture," she said.
8 Jalan Klapa
Tuesday to Sunday, 1pm to 10pm
In today's world, where many take pictures of a dish before tucking in, business partners Joseph Koh, Michelle Au and Jenny Widjaja know how important it is for their desserts to look Instagram-worthy.
Topped with marzipan in pretty colours such as pink, yellow and pearl white, their eclairs are sure to garner many "likes" on Instagram, while being delicious too.
"What we produce must taste as good as it looks and vice versa," said Mr Koh, who used to work in advertising and is also the founder of Maki-San, a make-it-yourself sushi joint, which opened in 2013.
With the colourful toppings, it is only appropriate that the founders call their dessert joint Karafuru, the Japanese way of pronouncing colourful.
Ms Au said they were inspired by the aesthetics of Japanese cuisine when creating the desserts.
"The cafe scene is so competitive, so we wanted to do something different," said Mr Koh.
For now, there are 12 eclair flavours, which were all created by pastry chef Michael Liu, who used to work at Windowsill in the Woods, a pie shop.
Chef Liu's flavours are more Japanese-inspired. Think yuzu, jasmine matcha, sakura rose, and ume shiso, the last of which is a plum cream-filled eclair wrapped with a shiso leaf.
Rather than just working with a single flavour, he combines other flavours to give the eclairs more dimension. For example, he combines sakura and rose, or layers a floral scent to matcha with the addition of jasmine. It took him six months to get the recipes for the different flavours right.
The non-alcoholic flavoured eclairs are priced at $6, while the ume shiso and the Marc de Champagne ones cost $7. The eclairs are also available for sale online from the end of this month. Unlike their French counterparts, the eclairs here are daintier in size. "So customers have room to try more flavours," quipped Mr Koh. The choux pastry is also lighter in texture.
88 Horne Road
Monday, 10am to 8pm; Wednesday and Thursday, 11am to 9pm; Friday and Saturday, 10am to 10pm; Sunday, 9am to 7pm; closed on Tuesdays
We all know ondeh ondeh as the boiled glutinous rice ball stuffed with liquid gula melaka and rolled in grated coconut.
But what about ondeh ondeh eclair? It sounds strange but surprisingly, it works. The eclair contains gula melaka, coconut, mascarpone cream in a vanilla bean choux, with a white chocolate glaze that is lightly coloured green and decorated with desiccated coconut. You do not get the burst of gula melaka, unlike a regular ondeh ondeh, but the taste in the eclair comes close.
This eclair is the creation of pastry chef Erica Yap, who together with her business partner, Jessica Chin, founded Two Bakers.
While the name, Two Bakers, sounds like a dessert place, the cafe serves both sweet and savoury food. Ms Chin takes care of the savoury section.
Ms Yap said: "I've always liked baking, and in 2012, I went to pursue a pastry making course at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris." Ms Chin, on the other hand, loves cooking.
Their joint does an array of tarts and two types of eclairs - the ondeh ondeh and a salted caramel one, which cost $6.80 each.
Unlike other dessert places which use pastry cream for their filling, Ms Chin uses mascarpone cheese which gives it a richer texture but also adds to the cost.
Ms Yap is working on creating eclairs using more local flavours, to make her selection stand out. On the cards - a Thai iced tea eclair.
THE BUSINESS TIMES
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