Most people forgive how your cake looks when it has the special ability to get you a little tipsy.
But being the self-sacrificing good wife that I am, I decided to learn how to make homemade eclairs for RJ since they are his favorite and since he had tried unsuccessfully to buy himself some on several different occasions, only to find them sold completely out each time.
I thought it was going to be a horrible, complicated process involving 387 different ingredients, dirtying every dish in my house, and lasting a full day or two.
I'm going to let RJ go on thinking that, even though it was pretty simple. Oh sure, there are several steps, but each one is easy enough.
So here ya go. Make your loved ones THINK you've been slaving away in the kitchen all day.
WHAT YOU NEED:
1 stick butter
1 cup water
1 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 small box instant vanilla pudding (ya know, Jello)
1 1/2 cups cold milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
2-3 tablespoons milk or cream
WHAT YOU DO:
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Lightly grease a cookie sheet with butter (I just used the leftover wrapper from the stick of butter in the recipe and rubbed it all over the cookie sheet. It worked like a charm.)
In a medium saucepan, heat the butter and water until boiling. Stir until the butter is melted. Reduce the heat to low then add the flour and salt, Stir rapidly until a dough ball forms and pulls away from the sides of the pan. When this happens, remove it from the heat completely, then SLOWLY add the beaten eggs to the mixture, a little at a time until it is fully incorporated. You have to work quickly at this stage so the eggs don't scramble and clump up in the dough. The dough is VERY stiff, and your arm will get tired.
Put the dough in a pastry bag or gallon ziplock with the corner cut off, and pipe them out onto the cookie sheet in strips of approximately 2 inches long and less than 1 inch around. Think slightly larger than thumb sized. This recipe made 16 for me, if that helps you get any perspective. You could probably also just use a spoon and scoop them out into this shape, but the dough is kinda sticky.
Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 325 degrees and bake for another 18-20 minutes, until they sound hollow when you tap them. They will lightly brown, but don't let them get too dark.
Remove from the cookie sheet and pierce the end of each one with a wooden skewer to allow the steam to escape, and cool completely on wire racks.
Meanwhile, mix the pudding, milk, vanilla extract and powdered sugar together with a whisk until it starts to set. Put it in the fridge to allow it to set completely while the pastries cool.
After the pastries and filling are ready, use a pastry bag with a filling tip on it - it's the really, really long one that came in your set and you didn't know what to do with - to fill each pastry. Use the hole you poked with a skewer as a starting point, and make sure you push the filling tip all the way into the pastry so the filling is uniformly distributed.
Melt the chocolate chips and milk in a shallow bowl in the microwave in 15 second increments, stirring between, until the chocolate is completely melted. Dip the top of each filled pastry into the chocolate.
Store in the fridge until you're ready to serve them.
See? Now that wasn't so bad, now was it?