Back in 1989 I made eclairs for the first time. I couldn't cook anything fancier than ramen or KD; but eclairs, being made with simple stuff like boiling water, flour and eggs, didn't look too daunting.
I don't remember if the inspiration came from a Home-Ec class or from one of my mom's Good Housekeeping magazines. Either way, I set to the project with the kind of faith and spirit wholly reserved for youth naive of the kitchen and it's many pitfalls (see previous post).
I made them and they were good. (Nicole's Genesis 1:3)
Throughout my pre-marraige years I had two things I could cook: eclairs and chicken vinegar soup*. After a whirlwind courtship, I was a new bride to a young husband who was heading out the door to his first day of work. I kissed him and was left standing in a tiny apartment galley kitchen with not a clue as to how to set it up or what to make in it. Time was ticking. He'd be home in eight hours.
*Dials the phone*
" Honey, do you like eclairs?"
To my horror he said no. So the one thing I knew I could woo him with was a bust.
Last night, on the final day of "E" Fortnight ( you've joined the fun at A-Z Year, right?) I made eclairs with my boys. They found choux pastry just as magical as I did at their age.
It goes from this boiling goo:
To these airy shells:
We made thick sweetened whip cream in a blender ( have you tried that? fast, easy, not messy.) and melted chocolate as the base of our frosting. My boys all experience love most profoundly through their stomachs and their love tanks were full.
My Chris came home, now fifteen years past that galley kitchen, and I nervously offered him the best eclair of the bunch. I held my breath hoping that he would accept it and love it - I mean really, what's not to love about pastry, whipping cream and chocolate.
He took a bite and his eyes rolled back in pure unguarded rapture.
It turns out he doesn't remember telling me he didn't like them and he is pretty sure he thought eclairs were something else.
Here's a simple choux pastry recipe. They can be filled with anything fluffy: whipped cream, mousse, ice cream etc. and topped with frosting or drizzled with syrups.
1/2 cup butter
1 cup water
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C). Grease a cookie sheet.
In a medium saucepan, combine butter and water. Bring to a boil, stirring until butter melts completely. Reduce heat to low, and add flour and salt. Stir vigorously until mixture leaves the sides of the pan and begins to form a stiff ball.
Remove from heat.
Add eggs, one at a time, beating well.
With a spoon or zip-loc bag with corner cut off, pipe dough onto cookie sheet in 1 1/2 x 4 inch strips.
Bake 15 minutes in the preheated oven, then reduce heat to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C) and bake 20 minutes more, until hollow sounding when lightly tapped on the bottom. Cool completely on a wire rack.
* I won't divulge the glory that is Chicken Vinegar Soup aside from the fact that it's a delightful blend of broth, curry, pepper, garlic, soy, vinegar and much more. No one ever forgets it and you crave it for life. Yeah, it's that amazing. But that'll have to wait for a different post.