Thursday, February 3, 2011

A new town, a new home and a new hobby!

So our little family just made a big move - we moved from Kalispell, MT to Umatilla, OR so that we could be together, rather than Kagen being gone all week. We are excited about this change and I'm enjoying having a husband 7 days a week!

Somehow amid all the unpacking I found a new little hobby - baking fancy deserts. I had messed around with making chocolate souffles in the past and made them successfully once, but since we've moved I've perfected the souffles, and went on to make Creme Brulee and my latest adventure was Chocolate Eclairs. Those turned out and I'm on to experimenting with them now. Today I made them cupcake size in a muffin pan... they turned out great! I combined recipes from three sources - Desserts (a book published by Igloo Books in London) for the dough, Betty Crocker's Big Red Cookbook (for the cream filling), and an online annonymous comment for the chocolate topping.

For the dough (which is actually called Choux) you will need:
1 c. water
1/2 c. butter
1 c. flour
4 eggs
Preheat oven to 425 degrees and grease 12 muffin cups with butter. Combine water and butter in a sauce pan - heat until butter melts then increase to a boil. Once it boils remove from heat and add flour quickly, beating with a wooden spoon until it forms a ball. Transfer to another bowl and continue to beat to release more heat. Add eggs one at a time beating until smooth after each egg is added.
Drop spoonfulls into the muffin cups - evenly distributing the dough. Bake 15 minutes at 425, then decrease heat to 350 for another 15 minutes.
Cool at least 30 minutes then cut tops off.

For the cream filling you will need:
1/3 c. sugar
2 T. cornstarch
1/8 t. salt
2 c. milk
2 egg yolks, slightly beaten
2 T. butter
2 t. vanilla
Combine sugar, cornstarch and salt in a sauce pan. Slowly stir in milk and turn on heat to medium. Milk will thicken then come to a boil - boil for 1 minute.

Combine at least half of the milk mixture with the yolks in a separate bowl, then add back into the sauce pan with the other half. Heat all of it to a boil for 1 minute. Stir in butter and vanilla. Pour into glass bowl and press plastic wrap on the top to prevent it from filming over.
Refridgerate for at least one hour. Spoon into eclairs.

For the chocolate topping you will need:
6 oz. dk. semisweet or bittersweet chocolate
1/4 c. water
2 T. butter.
Combine chocolate and water in sauce pan.
Heat very slowly until chocolate is melted and liqiud. Add butter - chocolate should have a shine to it. Use a spatula or basting brush to cover tops of eclairs.


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