In the early eighties, I had moved to San Luis Obispo, a charming college town in California bordered by ocean and hills. I had been living in Paris prior: Every party or pot-luck I was invited to, brought a platter of mini-eclairs filled with store-bought chocolate pudding (for expediency); it was easy to make and people were duly impressed.
This time, the idea of making mini-eclairs and stuffing them with a sweet cream sounds less appealing; instead, these come with a light chicken liver mousse.
Now, if you are not a fan of liver, trust me, this recipe (discovered by trial and error) has eliminated the strong taste of liver.
How? I blended a few dollops of Puck with the liver and onions. If you can’t get Puck, use sour cream or crème fraiche or cream cheese.
You can make the liver mousse ahead; the day of the party, whip up some cream puff dough and pipe the mini-eclairs that morning; crisp them up right before the guests show up and fill them with the mousse and a few fresh basil leaves.
And watch them disappear.
INGREDIENTS: Mini-eclairs: (Will make about 25)
- 1 cup of water (can be replaced with a light chicken stock if you wish)
- a dash of salt
- 1 stick of unsalted butter (4 ounces or 115 g.)
- 4 large eggs
- 1 cup of all-purpose flour
Chicken liver mousse:
- 1 pound of chicken livers
- 2 large onions
- 1 cup of white wine
- olive oil, as needed
- salt, pepper, to taste
- 1 Tablespoon of pomegranate molasses, 1 teaspoon of paprika, 1 teaspoon of sumac
- 1/2 cup and up to 1 cup of Puck or any other creamy cheese spread or sour cream (or 4 wedges of the laughing cow)
- 30 fresh basil leaves
- Pour 1 cup of water (or bouillon) into a saucepan; add a dash of salt, and a stick of butter; let the butter melt slowly and bring the water mixture into a simmer; drop one cup of flour into the saucepan and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until the flour mixture (called panade) leaves the sides of the bowl; this should take 3 minutes.
- Transfer the flour mixture into the bowl of a mixer or food processor or a regular bowl. Add one egg and beat until the egg combines into the flour mixture; continue with the other three eggs and when the mixture is glossy and creamy, stop beating and get a pastry bag ready and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Pipe small 4-inch eclairs and bake them in a preheated 375F oven for about 30 minutes, leaving the oven door ajar to let the steam escape (by planting the handle of a wooden spoon in the oven door) after about 20 minutes of baking. Cool the mini-eclairs and set aside. If you are planning to use them the following day, store them in a ziploc bag and crisp them up a few minutes in a 300F oven the next day.
TO MAKE THE CHICKEN LIVER MOUSSE:
- Slice the onions and fry until golden and soft; add the chicken livers, pomegranate molasses and spices; raise the heat and sear them until cooked but still pink inside. Splash the wine and remove the livers into a bowl. Let the sauce reduce and transfer to the bowl with the livers. Transfer the livers and onions into the bowl of a food processor. Process, adding a few dollops of Puck or sour cream or cream cheese; taste and adjust, if you like it creamier, add more cheese.
- Transfer the liver mousse into a pastry bag; slice the mini-eclairs open; line one side of the eclairs with two or three small basil leaves; pipe the mousse on top, close the eclair gently and place on a serving platter.
- Cover with plastic wrap up to one hour before serving time; remove the wrap and let them come to room temperature. Serve the mini-eclairs with extra basil leaves as a garnish.
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