These tiny pastries laced with tart lemon cream make a nice treat at a dinner party. Meyer lemons are delicious but sweet, so we added real lemons to the éclair filling for a good acid bite.
What to buy: If you can’t find Meyer lemons, you can use regular lemons.
Game plan: You can make the Meyer lemon filling as early as 5 days ahead, but be sure to keep it in a tightly sealed container to avoid picking up refrigerator smells. The éclairs are best freshly assembled.
1Combine lemon juices and zest, sugar, butter, and salt in a nonreactive saucepan over low heat. Cook, stirring gently, until butter is melted. Combine eggs and egg yolks in a bowl and mix together until blended. Whisk about 1/2 of the hot lemon mixture into the eggs to warm them, then slowly add the egg mixture back into the saucepan, whisking constantly. Cook over low heat (do not allow to boil), stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until mixture thickens, about 5 minutes. Strain through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl. Lay a sheet of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the filling and refrigerate until cold and firm.
For the puff dough:
1Heat the oven to 425°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
2Combine butter, sugar, and salt in a large saucepan, and add water. Bring mixture to a boil over medium heat. Add flour all at once and stir quickly with a wooden spoon until mixture pulls away from the sides of the pan. Continue to cook for 1 minute to dry out dough. Transfer dough to a bowl and let cool for a few minutes. Beat in eggs one at a time, beating until dough is smooth and glossy before adding the next egg.
3Using a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch tip (or a plastic storage bag with one corner snipped off), pipe dough onto the prepared baking sheets into “fingers” that are about 1 by 3 inches. Place on the middle rack of the oven and bake until golden and dry to the touch, about 30 minutes.
For the whipped cream filling:
1In a mixing bowl, combine cream, sugar, and vanilla extract, and beat with an electric mixer until soft peaks form.
2To assemble the éclairs, slice the “fingers” in half horizontally and remove the tops. Spoon the whipped cream into a clean pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch star tip. Spoon the lemon filling into the bottom of each éclair, and then pipe whipped cream over it. Place the tops on the éclairs and dust them with powdered sugar.
Beverage pairing:Schramsberg Crémant Demi-Sec, California. A good demi-sec sparkler is a combination of wonderful opposites: creamy mouthfeel and prickly bubbles; toasty/yeasty aromas and citrusy bite. All of these make it a perfect pair with the éclairs and their light, flaky crust and sharp, lemony cream.