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Making Éclairs

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Sometimes my life reaches a point where I don’t believe it can possibly get any better. This is what I call a “pinnacle” day. Today was a “pinnacle” day for me.

I started out the morning in an unbelievably good mood, having gotten a full 9 hrs of sleep to wake up at 7:30.+2 feel-good points for an excellent start.

I hopped on the bus and saw my friend J– so  we amused ourselves with her iTouch and her telling me about the aftermath of her treadmill injury.+2 points for having a friend on the bus.

Then I went to my medical ethics class and sat through some very interesting discussion on the difference between killing a patient and letting a patient die. (I’m still not sure where I stand on this one). I decided to be brave, though, and argued against one of my peers. That made me feel good. +1 for playing Devil’s advocate.

Immediately after, I had my English class on American literature in the later 19th century and actually understood Sigmund Freud’s essay on “The Uncanny”. +1.

And then…I baked éclairs with my friend S–. +3

I’m going to stop my recollection of my day here and proceed to talk about how exactly we baked éclairs.

Basic Choux Pastry Dough

(Adapted from On Baking by Sarah Lebensky, Van Damme, Martel)

Makes ~25 medium sized éclairs

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz. unsalted butter (2 sticks)
  • 1 cup skim, reduced fat, or 1% milk
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 1.2 cups flour
  • 6 eggs
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Have a pastry bag ready. (S– brought her nifty mechanical pastry bag).
  2. Slice the butter into small 1 inch chunks.
  3. Place the milk, water, salt, sugar, and butter in a medium saucepan and place on medium heat. Wait until mixture boils. Make sure the butter melts.
  4. Remove the saucepan from the heat and IMMEDIATELY add the flour. Beat dough until well mixed.
  5. Plac the pan back on the heat and continue beating the dough until it pulls away from the sides. NOTE: Some dough will stick to the sides and the bottom because of the heat. This is normal, so do not let this bother you.
  6. Transfer the dough to a bowl and allow it to cool. At this point, begin stirring the eggs in with a large spoon or spatula.
  7. Add eggs one at a time until the mixture is shiny, but firm. A good indication of this is that the dough will pull away in thick threads.
  8. Put a workable amount of dough into the pastry bag and pipe it out onto the prepared baking sheets in whatever shape you desire. S– and I piped ours out in ~3 inch long Milano style cookies, with unintended swirls from the mechanical pastry bag.
  9. Bake at 425 F for 10 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 375 F and bake 10 more minutes. Continue reducing the temperature by ~15 F every few minutes until 200 F, or the eclairs are brown and dry.
  10. Cool, then fill.

Easy Pastry Cream

Ingredients:

  • 14 oz. condensed milk
  • 2 sticks of salted butter, softened

Cream the butter and the condensed milk together using an electric mixer on high until soft peaks form (about 3 minutes).

Putting It Together

Using the piping tip of the pastry bag (or a chopstick if you’re using a ziploc bag for a pastry bag), poke a hole on one end of each éclair. Fill the mechanical pastry bag (or pastry bag of your choice) with the pastry cream, stick the tip into the holes you poked, and pipe out the cream. There should be enough cream for ~25 éclairs.

To continue with my recollection of my “pinnacle” day. Right after I baked éclairs, I ran to my bus stop 7 minutes late and still caught my bus. That in and of itself seriously lathers on the bonus points (both for having the good fortune of not missing my bus and having the good fortune of not having to wait 10 minutes for my bus if I were on time), so I’m going to say +3.

And then once my mom turned our street corner, we found our car face to face with an ice cream truck. +1.

I walked inside my home, got a load of slobbery kisses from my adorable pug and looked outside and saw my sister sitting in our cherry tree blasting…Justin Bieber on my boombox? +2 for the kisses and for laughing at my sister in a cherry tree, but -1 for hearing Justin Bieber.

I found out that my parents are taking my sister and I to Lake Chelan for a week in late August. +3 for jumping and falling, but landing on a cushion of old tote bags (or else my buttocks would be in serious pain).

I ran outside, whooped, and actually did a successful cartwheel. +2 for being a crazy, wild child.

I’m too lazy to total those up. But I like awarding myself feel-good points. Whether it’s sacrificing the whipped cream on my frappuccino or managing to write legibly, I make myself happy.

Today was a happy day. I gave myself a lot of feel-good points. Either I’m being generous, or I’m in a good mood. I’m going to say both.

You know how people say that sometimes it’s the little things in life that count? I would like to modify that and say that the little things in life are the things that count everyday. You can’t always be the lottery winner. So you’ve got to make your own lottery and be your own winner. It’s simple.

Let’s see if you can get more feel-good points than me tomorrow.

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About Natalie C.

A college graduate in molecular biology eagerly awaiting the commencement of my quest for the luxurious yet completely impractical hood that one receives at a Doctorate graduation ceremony.

One response »

  1. wats up man hows it going

    Reply

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