At Eclair by Garuharu, a dessert shop that opened late this June on Seoul's Gyeongnidan Street, there are eclairs and macarons, and then there is the macaron eclair.
Owner and pastry chef Yun Eun-young explained that she put this hybrid dessert on the menu because she wanted to give a nod to the eclair, the titular dessert of her new store. Also, one of her leading specialties as a pastry chef is the macaron.
Those who have tasted a macaron cake or macaron eclair will already understand the basic concept of this treat, which generally consists of larger-than-average macaron shells around a variety of fillings that can range from whipped cream to fresh fruit and chocolate.
How these macaron-style desserts are made varies from place to place. At Eclair, Yun makes hers by sandwiching two long, slightly ruffled macaron shells around a cream and jam filling.
Yun began by releasing a cherry macaron eclair.
For the treat, Yun filled two pink meringue shells with a pistachio mousseline cream and a housemade sour cherry jam.
Delicate as egg shells, the macaron cookies fold when bit into, right down to their sweet, chewy, almond-rich centers, which contain a mousseline that tastes like pistachio ice cream and a slightly tart fruit jam that adds balance to the toothsome dessert.
For her second macaron eclair, Yun turned to Japanese matcha, infusing the bitter green tea powder into the cookies and the mousseline cream, which she fills with a red bean paste centre.
The bitter depth of the tea mitigates the sweetness of the red bean paste and the meringue cookies for an elegant treat.
The fragile yet chewy texture of her macaron meringue cookies, the richness of the buttercream-like mousseline and the tendency towards doing everything, like the sour cherry jam, from scratch, all serve as proof of Yun's seasoned talent.
In fact, before launching Eclair, Yun, who studied pastries at the Paris-based Ecole Lenotre, ran her own pastry and chocolate academy, Atelier Garuharu, for three years.
It was only after passing on her know-how to a slew of students that Yun decided to open her own shop, opting to focus on eclairs, those tasty cream-filled choux pastries.
"We make 11 eclairs," Yun, 27, said.
One of the 11 flavors is a flavor of the month. For July, Yun created a berry-topped eclair filled with a blend of mascarpone cheese, yogurt and whipped cream.
Light and fresh, this month's special, christened "Berry Berry Good," tastes like a tangy fruit shortcake stuffed into choux pastry.
In addition to eclairs, Yun also crafts macarons. Differentiating themselves from Yun's chewy macaron eclairs, the shells of her more standard take on the small treat are meltingly soft in texture.
Classic vanilla is spot-on, with a thick, buttercream filling and sweet shell, while rose is a study in subtlety, the sweet perfume of the blossom emanating from the raspberry-lychee-rose jam in the centre and from the buttercream filling.
While Yun plans to start selling coffee and tea next week, it would be a shame not to sip on one of four iced chocolate milks on the menu, like the fragrant Earl Grey ice chocolate, which tastes like a cross between a tea latte and an incredibly milky chocolate milk.
The only downside is the limited seating available at this gem of a shop located a good hike away from Noksapyeong Station.
There are a total of 10 seats at this slim, pristine space, making it ideal for ordering sweets to go, or if all seats are taken, munch them while on the road.
Eclair by Garuharu
247-9 Itaewon-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul www.garuharu.com (02) 337-8090 Open noon to 8 p.m. daily, closed Mondays acaron eclairs cost 6,000 won (S$7.30), eclairs cost 5,500 won to 6,000 won, macarons cost 2,500 won, ice chocolate milks cost 6,500 won to 7,000 won