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Happy (Belated) Blogiversary!

April 5, 2010

Well, the blog’s 1 year old now, and I suppose it’s a testament to the current status of the blog that it’s taken me exactly 5 days to put together this post…yikes!


Happy Birthday, Cupcake!!!

I went back and forth (several times, I might add) on what to make for the blog’s birthday. Cupcakes seemed an obvious choice, but I’m sortof saving that for a special event coming soon (and boy howdy, are they going to be adorable).

Since the other half of the blog is dedicated to my francophile self (in all her glory), I decided that maybe I should do something Frenchy to celebrate…but honestly, I’m burned out on macarons. So what’s an enterprising gal like me to do?

Make chocolate eclairs, of course!

These eclairs are a mélange (no pun intended, you’ll see why) of three recipes, taking the choux pastry from Melanger: To mix*, the chocolate pastry cream from Cake…or Death?, and the chocolate ganache from The Pioneer Woman Cooks.

Not the prettiest eclairs ever...

…but still tasty. I loved (LOVED) the pastry part of this. I wish I’d taken pictures as I was making them (duh, haven’t I learned by now?) but I was so. tired. I could barely keep my eyes open last night, so having a camera involved was impossible.

Some things I did that I liked:

– I took Mélanger’s advice and put a loafpan with 1 cup of hot water into the oven, to help the pastry steam (and puff up).

– I piped the eclairs onto the baking sheet using just a straight ziploc bag with a hole snipped on the tip.

– Some weeks ago I managed to completely lose my airbake cookie sheet, a lovely invention which is basically a double-bottomed cookie sheet with a layer of air between the two layers of metal. I hate baking on a single-bottomed sheet because invariably the bottoms of my cookies/pastries/whatever turn up super-dark and burned, while the tops are gooey. To solve that problem with these, I nested 2 thin cookie sheets on top of one another, leaving a layer of air between them. Success!

– Rather than remove the tops as instructed, I sliced through one side à la hot dog bun, and used my piping tip to pipe the pastry cream into the eclairs. This worked really well, because the insides of the eclairs are actually quite hollow (perfect for holding delicious cream!), and the round shape holds it together so it doesn’t explode into your hand.

– I filled the eclairs first, then drizzled them with chocolate.

Things I’ll do differently next time:

– Use a bigger baking tip, or cut the hole in the ziploc bigger; the eclairs, while pretty rich, were fairly small:

Size comparison.

– Actually time the second half of baking! The recipe calls for you to put them in at 425 at first, til they puff up, then you reduce the heat to 350 and put a wooden spoon in the door to let some of the steam escape. I forgot to set the timer after reducing the heat, so I think I took them out too early, which was obvious when half of the eclairs were a little gummy. I also should have rotated the pan in the oven, which could have fixed this whole problem.

– Make 1/4 recipe of chocolate ganache. I made one full eclair recipe, and halved the pastry cream, but I only halved the ganache and I should definitely have used just 1/4 of the ingredients (I hate keeping chocolate ganache – I never use it, and it just sits in the fridge, solid as a rock, taking up valuable space).

The eclairs were a success, and have been quickly devoured by my office friends. Next time I’ll make some more and start handing them out on the Metro – wouldn’t that be a great way to start the week?

Here. Have an eclair. Now those tourists swinging from the poles and standing on the wrong side of the escalator don't seem so bad, eh?

I know I’d feel happier about the vast quantities of “Huh? What?” expressions and slow walkers if I had one of these in my hand.

And finally…thank you to all of you who have stuck with me over the past year. Your readership means so much to me, and I truly appreciate the comments you leave, suggestions you make, and funny stories you share. This blog was intended to be a creative outlet, a connection to family and friends far and near, and it has definitely lived up to its expectations. I hope you’ll all stay with me as we move into the “teenage” phase of the blog (since it’s the Internet, and things mature so quickly, ahem).

Looking forward I don’t see any massive changes coming – expect more of the same, but as my passions for different styles of cooking wax and wane, I expect the content of the blog to mature as well. The guest feature aspect will definitely keep happening (and I’ve got a great one coming later this week), so keep an eye out for that. And as always, if there’s something you’d like to see, or experience, or any of that, shoot me an email or leave me a comment. I’d love to hear from you!

Have a great week, everyone!!!

*The recipe says to brush the eclairs with a little “egg mixture” before putting them in the oven – I just cracked an egg into a bowl and scrambled it a bit with a fork before using my new OXO pastry brush to put an egg wash on the tops. It worked PERFECTLY. I love my new brush, and you should go buy one.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. April 5, 2010 10:34 am

    As always, these were absolutely delicious!! When I go to my 32 week checkup tomorrow and the doctor asks me why I’ve gained so much weight, I’m going to try to explain to her that it’s because I work with an amazing baker who creates irresistable treats and I have zero willpower! Maybe I should take her an example of your work to back up my point. 😉

    Also, happy blogiversary! Keep ’em coming!

  2. Lisa's Dad permalink
    April 5, 2010 1:19 pm

    Happy Birthday to your Blog you Blogoddess you! Your toll house cookies are still the best baked good this side of Heaven!!!!!

  3. April 5, 2010 3:30 pm

    Beautiful eclairs. Love how you used a chocolate pastry cream. Delicious!

    • Cupcake permalink
      April 5, 2010 3:33 pm

      Thanks for visiting and checking them out, Julia! The choux pastry was excellent – they stood up well overnight as well (I served them to the office this morning, after having made them yesterday evening). Thanks for the recipe, and the compliment!

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