Éclairs and Brownies

Last week, I was feeling a bit adventurous. I came across a recipe for éclairs, and decided to give it a go. The breading is a cream puff in elongated strips. The directions say to use a pastry tube, which I had never heard of. J looked it up for me and the results were identical to my cake decorating set. The pastry tips would substitute for this pastry tube. However, I was out of pastry bags. So I made a makeshift one out of a ziplock bag, which is always recommended and NEVER works. The bag always splits from the pressure of pushing out the batter/icing. Did I mention cream puff batter is SUPER messy? It is. My kitchen looked like a disaster zone. I finally made the appropriate shapes, but they were much too big. After baking, your supposed to split them. I couldn’t find ANY source that explained how or when to do this. So I guess-timated, and failed. They were on the cooling rack (since the recipe said “cool then split”) when I walked back in and they had collapsed. I still stuffed them with a chocolate mixture, but it ended up being something you need a fork to eat.

As for the filling….it was a failure filled day. I tried to make a custard filling, but the milk scorched and then the egg scrambled itself in the mixture instead of gently mixing in (this is why they tell you to put some batter in a bowl with the egg, mix it, and then return to the pan. Because if you don’t you’ve got scrambled egg in your custard. This is the one instance where I’ve cut a corner to avoid dirtying an additional dish and it has failed me). So the custard (and sadly, after much scrubbing, the pan) went to the trash. Thankfully, there is a recipe for “quick” filling in the book, so I used that. This consists of making instant pudding, but using less milk. I had less pudding mix than the recipe called for, but didn’t feel like doing the math and made the filling per package directions. After chilling for ten minutes, my pudding was the proper filling consistency. They may not have been super pretty, but they were pretty good. And 2 recipes down 🙂

Last night, J told me, in his subtle way, that he really wanted brownies. Although I still have some brownie mix in the pantry from the pre-baking odyssey days, I decided to knock out another recipe and make them from scratch. Ironically, a couple months ago I really wanted to make brownies from scratch. I searched the web and couldn’t find a single recipe that didn’t call for something pre-mixed. Little did I know there are 6 brownie recipes in the BH&G cookbook. So last night I made Chocolate Syrup brownies, which calls for 1.5 cups of Chocolate syrup. It’s an insane amount of chocolate. They turned out well, even have that flaky top crust, but they’re cake-y. Instead of being dense, they’re fluffy. I prefer box brownies right now, but I do have another 5 brownie recipes to try which will probably change my mind.

3 recipes down, the Baking Odyssey continues.

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