I do d’éclair, today’s food holiday is very rich and very sweet. Just like the citizens of its country of origin. June 22 is National Chocolate Éclair Day!
Last year on this date we celebrated onion rings. The summer months were full of sweets, and we jumped at the chance to indulge in something savory instead. Which is not to say we don’t love chocolate éclairs. After all…who wouldn’t?
Éclair is the French word for lightning. There are two theories over how it got its name: either because of the way it “sparkles” when confectioner’s glaze is sprinkled over the top, or the fact that it is so delicious it’s eaten quickly (in a “flash”). If that second fact were true, we might be calling pizza an éclair instead, so I’m not sure about that. The original name was pain à la duchesse, but this was a pain à la ass to say, so in 1850 it became simply an éclair. As with many foods, we don’t know exactly who invented the dessert, though many speculate it was the brainchild of Marie-Antoine Carême, a well-known pastry chef in France around the turn of the nineteenth century. A true éclair is a long, thin pastry made with choux dough, filled with cream or custard and topped with icing. There are many different flavors of cream and icing that can be used, but the most common one, at least in these parts, is filled with a vanilla cream and topped with chocolate icing. Hence, the name of the holiday. In some parts of the country éclairs are called “long johns,” but the only long johns I know are worn in the frigid winter months to protect your legs from freezing.
I was buying fresh produce from a market across the street today, and picked up an éclair from their bakery section. As you can imagine, it was all kinds of awesome.