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