Vietnamese Coffee Éclairs

Our home has few traditions but my husband made one decree that I've been able to uphold: eclairs on his birthday. I love making him sweet treats because he is such a kid about the whole process. He's giddy while they're in the oven and stares at them patiently while I painstakingly fumble about  taking photos for a blog post. What a great guy! This year, I bookmarked this magnificent idea for Vietnamese Coffee Eclairs.

For those who have not had an iced Vietnamese Coffee - I beg, plead, and implore you - get in your car and go to the closest Vietnamese restaurant. If you don't have one readily available - remain calm. You can make a very close version at home with a French Press, some wicked strong coffee-  heck use straight espresso-, and sweetened condensed milk. Sometimes I like to add a pinch of Saigon cinnamon.

It's a beautiful taste. The ferocity of the coffee is matched by the sweetness of the condensed milk. The two don't battle for your affection. Instead, they come together to form a caffeine kicking, smooth melody that's absolutely refreshing and addictive.  Que rico!

So how does one translate this love song into a pastry? Well, props to Hint of Vanilla for coming up with the idea in the first place! The filling of the eclair is espresso flavored pasty cream while the topping is a simple whipped cream laced with condensed milk. Brilliant! Adorning the whipped cream are pearls of concentrated espresso to ensure there's no mistaking the coffee flavor.

After bombing the pasty cream, I decided to play it safe and use recipes that I've executed successfully in the past. I'll take another stab eventually but I wasn't messing around. These are birthday eclairs damn it. 

The final product genuinely surprised me. I'm accustomed to eclairs topped with ganache so I was hesitant about using whipped cream. My primary concern was it would lose form within a few hours but they truly hold up! It compliments the pasty cream filling beautifully creating an almost silky pastry experience. Crazyness. As for the birthday fellah? The husband actually preferred this eclair to the standard issue vanilla filling with chocolate topping variety! Say what now?!

I love you, Michael! 

Vietnamese Coffee Éclairs
idea from Hint of Vanilla
makes 8-10 eclairs

Éclair Recipe - Joy of Baking
Pasty Cream Recipe - Joy of Baking
Whipped Topping - Hint of Vanilla
Espresso Pearls - Sprinkle Bakes

Note: for the espresso pasty cream, I followed the Joy of Baking recipe. Once pasty cream was thickening at the end, I then added 3 tablespoons of instant espresso granules as well as 2 ounces of dark chocolate chips. Adjust to your flavor preference (we like a kick), tasting after each addition of espresso. Remember, it will taste even better once it's cooled down.

Note: for the espresso pearls, I halved the recipe because it would have been an army of pearls. I recommend using fresh espresso. If you must use instant granules, make sure it's super strong! These pearls require a bold flavor to make a lick of difference. Also, don't forget to chill the oil in the fridge, preferably over night. These pearls are crazy cool to make!