During Christmas, we were away in Vietnam and we had a lot of delicious coffee. The coffee in Vietnam has a deep chocolate flavour to it and it's ever so slightly sweet. Similarly to in Thailand and Indonesia, coffee is sweetened with condensed milk. The coffee I brought back to London from Vietnam was sweet and chocolatey without condensed milk. I am unsure whether the coffee is sweetened in another way or whether there is vanilla inside because I can't read the ingredients which are written in Vietnamese.
On our way home in the flight I asked my sisters what their favourite french patisserie is, if they were to walk into a Patisserie in France, which cake would they chose? They both replied, a classic coffee eclair.
There is this nostalgia between us as sisters, that taste of a coffee eclair- it's Paris in a mouthful. It's indulgent, it's delicious but not too rich. It never disappoints.
I've decided to start working on a selection of French patisseries, which are not too complicated or refined. I have always been a fan of rustic French patisseries, despite having worked in places which aim to elaborate on this and make patisserie a lot finer and more beautiful.
This week, I was working on a recipe with the Vietnamese chocolatey coffee in a creme patissiere filled eclair. I used coffee fondant for the top, which many patisserie chefs in France would tell me off for- fondant is very sweet and the aim to work with refining our palates to eat less sweet is a mission of "savoir-faire" "know-how". Once you know what you can and can't use, you aim to start deducting ingredients to create something incredible which uses little sugar.
Now, I use only a little fondant on the coffee eclairs, in a way that the eclair is simply painted on with the coffee fondant and not dipped or smothered in it. As well as this, I made the coffee cream not too sweet- I love the taste of coffee more than I love the "taste" of sugar- not really a "taste" as such- more an ingredient to emphasise another.
These coffee eclairs are absolutely delicious- I do not know whether it is because it is a taste of our childhood or whether other people think the same. You could taste the Vietnamese coffee infused the pastry cream- it was a mixture of this taste of Vietnam and a nostalgic taste France, the classic eclair au cafe.