Jessica recently visited Violet Bistro in Westwood, which marries French and California cuisine.
Owner Dana Slatkin studied abroad in Italy when she was in college and fell in love with the cafe culture there. She promised herself she’d bring it back home to Westwood.
She told Jessica that Violet is a mashup of all her favorite restaurants. Plus, there’s a cooking school at the charming restaurant!
Jessica got to sample some of the menu items, and tried her hand at making classic chocolate eclairs with Jesse Brune-Horan, Violet’s director of school operations.
For more information on Violet, visit the restaurant’s website.
This segment aired on California Cooking with Jessica Holmes Episode 120.
Classic Chocolate Eclairs
For pastry cream:
- 2 cups of whole milk
- 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract (or 1 teaspoon of vanilla paste)
- 6 egg yolks
- 2/3 cup of sugar
- 1/4 cup of cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon of cold, unsalted butter
- 1 cup of water
- 4 ounces (1 stick) of unsalted butter
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoon of sugar
- 1 cup of all-purpose flour
- 4 eggs
For egg wash:
- 1 egg (without yolk)
- 1 tablespoon water
- Equal parts heavy cream and chocolate chips – for this recipe use 1/2 cup of each.
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- The filling: Make the filling first because it needs to chill: In a medium saucepan, heat the milk and vanilla to a boil over medium heat. Immediately turn off the heat and set for at least ten minutes, allow the vanilla flavor to bloom.
- In a medium-size mixing bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the cornstarch and mix until no lumps remain. Whisk in a small amount of the hot milk mixture until incorporated. Whisk in the remaining hot milk mixture.
- Pour the mixture back into the saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat, whisking constantly, until thickened and slowly boiling. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter. Pour the mixture through a strainer into a clean bowl that can go into the fridge.
- Let cool slightly. Cover with plastic wrap, lightly pressing the plastic against the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Chill at least 2 hours or until ready to serve.
- For the Pastry: Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. In a large saucepan, bring the water, butter, salt and sugar to a boil over medium-high heat. When it begins to boil, quickly remove the pan from the heat. Use a wooden spoon to mix in all the flour at once and stir vigorously until it’s all incorporated, about a minute.
- Scrape the mixture into a medium mixing bowl or mixer (fitted with paddle attachment). Use an electric mixer to blend at medium speed. With the mixer running, add the eggs, 1 egg at a time. Stop mixing after adding each egg to scrape the sides of the bowl. Mix until the dough is smooth and shiny and the eggs are completely incorporated. The dough should be thick and silky.
- Using a pastry bag (fitted with a large plain tip or with a small section of the bottom cut off), pipe 2-inch wide lengths of dough onto the lined baking sheet, each eclair should be approximately 2 inches wide and 5 inches long. Leave 2 inches of space between them. You should have about 8 eclairs per pan.
- Make the egg wash. In a bowl, whisk the egg and water together. Brush the surface of each eclair with the egg wash. Use your fingers to smooth out any bumps of points of dough that remain on the surface.
- Bake 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 375 degrees and bake until puffed up and light golden brown, about 20 minutes more.
- Remove from oven and let the eclairs cool on the baking sheet.
- Fit a medium-size plain pastry tip into a pastry bag. Fill the bag with the pastry cream. Use the tip to puncture a hole in the end of each eclair and gently pipe the custard into the eclairs, using only just enough to fill the inside. Careful to not overfill the eclairs.
- For the glaze: Melt the chocolate and cream together. You can simply microwave the two ingredients or heat the cream in a saucepan, then pour the cream over the chocolate pieces. Stir well to incorporate.
- Dip the tops of the eclairs in the warm chocolate glaze and set on a sheet pan. Chill, uncovered, at least 1 hour to set the glaze. Serve chilled.