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Sunday, August 12, 2007

Mine Don't Look Like Gracie's :P

I thought about titling this post "Kitchen Disaster Pt. 1,408" but the more I think about it, the more I realize this was just a near-disaster.. they turned out very nicely - although I had to go through a panic attack and a near call to 911 to get there.

I had some friends over for dinner last night and these particular people are the friends I invited over a few months ago for dessert. I had planned on making my Daring Baker challenge that day to share with them. The challenge? The Martha's Crepe Cake. Yes, well.. we all know how that first attempt at crepes turned out. I'm still picking dried crepe pieces/parts off my kitchen walls.

The original plan was to make them this month's Daring Baker challenge.. but well.. uhmm.. I decided that I'd better not press the "bad juju" button and take the chance that all this time it's not been my horrible baking skills that have put many a dessert in precarious situations - but maybe it was just them. Maybe they were dessert demons. Quite possibly, their karma - obviously a black aura around anything involving sugar and butter - was f*cking with my baked goods. This could happen!

Shuttit nay-sayers!!! :P

And so.. I didn't want to take the chance that I might screw up this month's challenge so I went in search of a dessert that I thought I could whip up without any problems. Something, quite possibly, that I've made before. My usual recipe websites didn't hold anything that sounded good, nor did the several cookery books I thumbed through.. next were some favorite blogs. I did find a boatload of recipes that I really, really wanted to make but I kept coming back to the last photo in this post by the Queen of All That Is Fattening and Delicious, my Gracie. Go ahead.. go look at that last photo and you'll see why I was so mesmerized. I'll wait.

Uhhmm.. you've got a lil drool hanging off your chin.

Now I've made Pate a Choux before AND I've made Diplomat Cream before, both thanks to the lovely and brilliant, Helene of Tartelette, when she hosted a Daring Baker challenge a couple month's ago. She had us making the St. Honore Gateau, which included learning how to make the Pate a Choux, Diplomat cream and revisiting puff pastry.

Chocolate Eclairs
A sea of Eclairs

Gracie's recipe was pretty similar with the addition of cocoa powder to the Pate a Choux and the chocolate added to the Diplomat Cream, and with photos like that, how could I not give these a go??

And so I set off in making the cream first so I could get it into the fridge. Absolutely no problems.. I even tempered my eggs correctly and only had a very small amount of scrambled egg left in the strainer. I was very proud of myself at that point.. you see, tempering eggs always brings nightmarish memories back of the blood orange curd I once attempted. It smelled of ass. Remember? Anyhoo.. I produced this thick pudding consistency pastry cream- so chocolately, so velvety smooth. *swoon* I even whipped the cream correctly to medium peaks and since Helene taught me the proper way of folding, I didn't loose any floof in the diplomat cream! It was magical. =)

Perfect Chocolate Pastry Cream
The perfect chocolate pastry cream cooling before turning it into diplomat cream

Next was the Pate a Choux.. again, no problems whatsoever.. okay so my piping skills blow monkey balls, but that's okay! The paste came together beautifully!

Horrible piping skills - Ugh. Chocolate Eclair Shells
Before and afters of my monkey ball blowing piping skills :P

Here's where the problems start. I'm pretty sure that my constant amazement that everything was going so well is the cause of my temporarily losing my mind for a few minutes as I put both trays of eclair shells in the oven - BEFORE it had even preheated to the instructed 425º F. I realized this soon after I put them in and figured they couldn't even have started the baking process yet, so I removed them until the lil bell went off. (I know. I know! I should have let the oven preheat for at least 30 minutes after the bell went off to be sure of even temperature but it's freakin hot out for crissakes!!) Ohh and the bell went off approximately 45 seconds after I removed them. Doh. So I shoved 'em back in, finished washing the dishes and went to plop my fat ass down in the living room to wait for the lil eclairs to puff and turn goldeny brown.

I'd say about 5 minutes had passed when I first smelled it.. smoke.

WHAT THE HELL?

I ran back into my kitchen to see pillowy puffs of white/gray smoke seeping out the front of the oven. I opened the door and what do I see? My parchment paper was on fire! Scorching the hell outta my lil close-to-perfect eclair shells. I might have shouted obscenities when this was discovered. Oh who the hell am I trying to fool? I called my oven every dirty name I could come up with.. I was like a foul mouthed machine gun - stuck on rapid fire. I couldn't even count how many times the F-bomb was dropped. I might have also cursed my friends at that point as well. I am not proud of that and I do not truly wish bad things to come to them, such as their teeth rotting out of their heads or a nasty case of hives settling in for the next 20 years. Really, I did not mean those things. Honest. But C'MON! Was it just coincidence that this happened? I use parchment paper all the time at all kinds of temperatures - it's NEVER caught on fire before. I make two desserts for these people and both times something HORRIFIC happens. I'm telling you.. BAD DESSERT KARMA played a major part in this almost-fiasco!

Disaster on the road to Chocolate Eclairs :P Disaster on the road to Chocolate Eclairs :P
What happens when one does not read instructions carefully :P
A couple things I didn't mention - somewhere in the process of making these, I knocked over my basket of cooking utensils AND I didn't read the instructions completely as I forgot to take butter out to bring to room temp, so I had to nuke it. As you can see from the butter puddle, I nuked it too long. :P

'kay well the next thing I had to do was get the cookie sheets out of the oven, blow out the fire, turn the oven temp down to 350º and transfer them to another cookie sheet sans parchment paper. They were nice and poofy too.. beautifully rounded and smooth on top. *sob* In the 2 minutes it took to transfer them to a non-smoldering sheet pan, they all collapsed. They looked like lil wrinkly dog turds. :( I had hoped that they would poof up again once they were put back in, but alas, they did not. Ohh and I should mention and probably take a moment of silence here - I did end up losing 10 shells.. they were just too charred to go on living. *sigh*

Once they were dry in the middle I took them out and looked at them in disgust. I walked back to my office and promptly e-mailed Gracie with my story in hopes that A- she'd see the email within the next hour or two and B- have a fantastic suggestion for a way to use my gorgeous Diplomat cream in another way. Unfortunately, she did not see my e-mail so I decided that although I now had wrinkly turd-like looking shells, that after I filled them with the cream and doused the tops in the chocolate glaze that maybe they'd look okay. And if they didn't? TOO F*CKING BAD. I was going to serve them and if I had to shove them down everyone's throats myself! Then I would. I had no time to make anything else - not even time to run up to the store for something.. so these were going to have to do! :P

Chocolate Eclairs

Luckily, as you can see (squint, people!) they didn't end up looking too horribly bad.. a lil flat, a lil mishapen, but otherwise quite tasty looking. And they WERE delicious. I had to quality control them, doncha know. There was just too much chocolate involved to take a chance not knowing how they tasted before I served them, yes?? Diet be damned, my friends. Diet Be Damned. These eclairs were not too sweet, which is what I (and I found out later that my guests agreed) loved the most about them. They were perfect with a cup of coffee and/or a glass of red wine.

Chocolate Eclairs Chocolate Eclairs
Chocolate Eclairs

So there you have it.. a near kitchen disaster. I'm glad I persevered and saw them to the end as they did turn out to be the perfect dessert after a dinner of filet mignon and langoustines. *swoon*

I won't post the recipe here - if you so desire to make these - and really kids, so desire to - you can get the recipe off of Gracie's blog here Thanks for another fanfarkingtabulous recipe, Gracie!! :D

Chocolate Eclairs
Two lil half nekked guys, missing their bottoms (I turned the tops over and filled them) due to FIRE.

xoxo

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Comments on "Mine Don't Look Like Gracie's :P"

 

Blogger MyKitchenInHalfCups said ... (8/12/2007 1:27 PM) : 

I don't know anybody else who could write like this!
While yours don't look like "Gracie's", your chocolate filled eclair shells look totally awesome my friend! No problem there girl!
The dinner and dessert sound totally fantastically great. (Not great on a diet but once in a while the taste needs something over the top . .. so OK).
So nobody else could write this . . . parchment paper catching fire . . . good grief . . . I'm sure it's happened to others but nobody could make it sound like this much fun!! You really said all that about your guests coming for dinner . . . someday I must be a guest at your table!

 

Blogger Culinarily Curious said ... (8/12/2007 3:49 PM) : 

Oh Lis, your < strike > monkey balls < /strike > (damn Blogger for not accepting the "strike" tag) éclairs are bee-YOU-tiful. How can that much chocolate combine with that much cream at your loving hands and NOT be a mind-blowing dessert?

 

Anonymous Marce said ... (8/12/2007 6:20 PM) : 

Well, they may not look like Peabody, but they look mouth-watering anyway. And way to go on avoiding disaster and filling them up anyway. I´m solemnly offering myself to help dispose of future near disasters, i´m that selfless.

 

Blogger Anh said ... (8/12/2007 7:00 PM) : 

Oh Lis, you make me laugh! I think you eclair looks wonderful despite all the accidents in the kitchen. I would defenitely abandon my diet for those! :D

 

Blogger Cynthia said ... (8/12/2007 7:32 PM) : 

I think I've said this before... I love reading you. Despite all the mishaps in the kitchen, these eclairs look great to me.

 

Blogger Chris said ... (8/12/2007 9:41 PM) : 

Oh my - I think I bruised a rib - You are too, too funny! Regardless of the 5 alarm action, your eclairs look delectable! :) If I could eat chocolate, I would become a hoover vacuum! :)

 

Blogger Brilynn said ... (8/12/2007 9:56 PM) : 

That is one enormous sea of eclairs! And my parchment paper somehow manages to catch fire all the time too... we must be cursed.

 

Blogger Elle said ... (8/12/2007 11:14 PM) : 

Bravo! You get the Julia Child Loves Your Save and Is Falling Down Laughing award...great eclairs, even misshapen. ALl that chocolate can't be bad for you and the piping of the diplomat cream is veddy nice.

 

Blogger Tartelette said ... (8/12/2007 11:45 PM) : 

That glaze is so good looking ! What was that about your parchment paper? Dang!!
I am glad everybody enjoed them in the end.

 

Blogger Baking Soda said ... (8/13/2007 1:28 AM) : 

You take "raising hell in the kitchen" to a complete new level! (Even remembered to include the fire). Well done!
Managed to get chocolate heaven out of it as well...my! Deep deep bow!!

 

Blogger Peabody said ... (8/13/2007 1:45 AM) : 

Oh no! I just saw your email. I was gone all weekend.
So sorry I wasn't around to help you out but they really do look pretty good, so I think you were good just doing what you did. Besides, your disasters are always far more entertaining than your successes :)

 

Blogger Lis said ... (8/13/2007 6:27 AM) : 

Tanna - I'd love to have you as a guest at my dinner table ANY DAY!

Dolores - lol thanks! I know.. blogger accepts everything but the damn < strike >< /strike > command!

Marce - Thank you for being so selfless.. it means the world to me. HAR!

Anh - You are too sweet, thank you!

Cynthia - Aww thank you!

Chris - Why can't you eat chocolate? I can't even imagine life without it - course I'd survive.. but why? oh why? have the Chocolate God's banished you?

Bril - We are! We are SOOOO cursed!

Elle - hehehe what an honor! :D Thanks sweetie!

Helene - Yes thanks! And they were impressed with my pronunciation as well. ;)

Karen - hahaha you are too funny! Thanks sweetie :D

Gracie - Of course this would be a weekend you weren't home. ;) But yeah, they did turn out good - a fabulous recipe! Thanks! :D

 

Blogger Connie said ... (8/13/2007 9:34 AM) : 

haha! whoa! good thing you caught the fire before it became really bad... and you know, they look great

 

Blogger Quellia said ... (8/13/2007 10:55 AM) : 

I remembered not to be drinking anything when I started reading your post this time Lis! So no splatters on my monitor as I lol'd through your story!
Your eclairs look just perfect - good enough to inhale! :-)

 

Anonymous veron said ... (8/13/2007 11:09 AM) : 

Sis! I just posted my own kitchen disaster too. And some of it had to do with oven problems. Talk about parallel lives! Your eclairs look delicious though! Nice save!

 

Blogger Deborah said ... (8/13/2007 12:16 PM) : 

Oh how I love reading your blog entries! No one else could write it like you do!! They look great to me, btw!

 

Blogger Patricia Scarpin said ... (8/13/2007 2:27 PM) : 

If João sees these beauties he'll beg me to go to the kitchen right away - he loves eclairs, Lis!
These are wonderful!

About the oven... been there, done that. ;)

 

Blogger Callipygia said ... (8/13/2007 7:56 PM) : 

Wow those look good! I cannot imagine with filet mignon, wine & langoustines to boot. What a dinner, those guests are lucky.

 

Blogger Anita said ... (8/13/2007 11:59 PM) : 

What a great story - thanks for sharing!:) I think it was Dorie who said if it doesn't turn out the way you intended, just serve by candlelight and no one will know! With so much chocolate, it's hard to imagine them tasting anything but delicious!

 

Blogger Nazca said ... (8/14/2007 1:44 PM) : 

They look woeful. Here, give them all to me, I'll throw them out for you... ;-)

I'm not sure now if I'd accept an invitation to yours now. The dessert isn't the problem, it's the being cursed that's a little scary X-D

 

Blogger kellypea said ... (8/14/2007 3:02 PM) : 

I'm thinkin' Lis, that with this flotilla of Eclairs and those F Bombs you were talking about, you could conquer the world. Oh YAH! If I provide the trajectory, could you maybe launch one of those to me?

And where's the photo of the burnt parchment? Huh?

 

Blogger Sara said ... (8/14/2007 4:56 PM) : 

If you hadn't told us your (funny) tale of woe, no one would have suspected you had troubles! They look perfect.

 

Anonymous Ivonne said ... (8/14/2007 11:07 PM) : 

Damn! Those look amazing! I want to ... well ... nevermind what I want to do with them. I won't say it out loud.

:o)

 

Blogger Kirsten said ... (8/15/2007 12:19 AM) : 

Oh my...too funny...and such good spirits! After the fire I would have thrown everything away and served wine and truffles (store bought).

And girl, you asked me why I don't bake???? Shit...

 

Blogger african vanielje said ... (8/16/2007 1:35 PM) : 

okay, i'm hooked. I love to bake, I love chocolate eclairs and i can't help loving someone who is not always Nigella in the kitchen. I want to be a daring baker. How do I join

 

Blogger Susan said ... (8/16/2007 5:29 PM) : 

I just licked my lips because I'm salivating. Seriously. I'm dying over here Lis. Dying. Help me. Please, just one bit to get my blood sugar up.

 

Blogger Belinda said ... (8/16/2007 11:08 PM) : 

Lisa! I don't know what you are talking about...because your eclairs are simply beautiful, they honestly look like picture perfect, tantalizing little chocolatey treasures...I wish one would find its way to my greedy little fingers...it would disappear in quick order! You are so funny...I had to read this hysterical post twice I enjoyed your writing so much. :-) All's well that ends well in the case of the little chocolate eclairs!

 

Blogger Cheryl said ... (8/17/2007 4:18 PM) : 

Those do not look flat at all. I freakin love them, I'm licking the screen as we speak.

 

Blogger Maryann said ... (8/17/2007 5:19 PM) : 

They look absolutely delicious to me! I love the way you tell the story about making them.

 

Blogger SteamyKitchen said ... (8/18/2007 12:44 AM) : 

Those, my dear, are what my local bakery would call "ugly as hell but made with love"

 

Blogger Chris said ... (8/18/2007 11:22 PM) : 

Ha! You're funny..again! The chocolate gods have decided to choose me as a random girl to be allergic to its creamining cocoaness...:( Oh well - I bake with it often - then give it away to all my choco-lover friends. :)

 

Blogger Dhana said ... (8/19/2007 10:16 AM) : 

Ahem, if THESE are near disasters....I wil take the entire batch any day ;)

 

Anonymous David said ... (8/19/2007 11:07 AM) : 

Perhaps I am not the best critic but they look very good to me.

Unfortunately my chocolate ganasce does not turn out as nice.

 

Anonymous Kristen said ... (8/20/2007 12:10 AM) : 

Oh you crack me up! I think your eclairs look gorgeous. I would eat them. I bet they tasted even better.

 

Blogger Kelly-Jane said ... (8/21/2007 3:17 PM) : 

Well, they might not look like Gracie's, but boy do they look fantastic!

 

Anonymous Anonymous said ... (8/22/2007 1:16 PM) : 

Parchment paper has a temperature limit somewhere above 400 degrees, I can't specifically remember, but its on the side of the box. If other people aren't ending up on fire it may be differences in oven calibration, unless of course you've got a thermometer in there.

 

Anonymous lynn said ... (8/22/2007 4:53 PM) : 

Excellent save! Wrinkly or not, they look terrific. I'm sure the guests did not complain.

 

Blogger Arfi Binsted said ... (8/25/2007 10:54 PM) : 

oh, my!! if my hubby sees these, he would seize them instantly. he LOVES eclairs! these look scrumptiously heaven, Lis!!

 

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