We are big dessert people around here. Rarely does a night go by when Danny and I don't enjoy a scoop (or three his case) of Mint Chip or Coffee Heath Bar Crunch. But ice cream alone doesn't really pass as dessert for company. It's okay for a kids party, or as an accompaniment. When we're entertaining, I usually resort to what Danny calls my "signature desserts" - an undercooked chocolate sour cream cake (stolen from my sister, who I think borrowed it from her MIL), or a nut-less carrot cake (taken from his aunt's faceless friend "Barb," according to my sad, butter-stained, folded recipe card). He's named them, I believe, in an effort to coerce me to make his favorites more often. Now he has a new one to add to the list. This rightfully belongs to my mom, who somehow manages to make it perfectly every time. Truthfully, I mess it up almost as often I get it right, but when it's good, it is really good (if I do say so myself). Last week I made it for a group of girls from our Bible Study for the precise reason that I'd already served them my other two staples on other recent occasions. They happened to like it too, or at least were very gracious about eating it anyway! A few requested the recipe, so here it is, along with (hopefully) a few hints for avoiding my frequent mistakes.
MOM'S OVER-SIZED CHOCOLATE ECLAIR
Pastry (this is the "puff" part of what would be a cream puff without the chocolate topping):
In a small sauce pan bring 1 cup of WATER and 1 stick of BUTTER to a boil.
Add one cup of FLOUR all at once. Mix fast until it clumps.
Remove from heat and allow to cool. (It doesn't have to get cold, but it will rise better if you can be patient before the next step).
In Kitchen Aid, beat in 4 EGGS, one at a time. (I've recently learned that using room temp eggs can also help pastries rise better - can you tell I've occasionally had trouble getting it to rise?!).
Spoon onto a cookie sheet in a ring about 10 inches in diameter. (Last time I made it a little too big. It still turned out okay, but it wasn't quite as puffy and didn't fit well onto my pretty plate).
Bake for 15 minutes at 425, then for at least 20 minutes at 375, until brown.
Make 1 LARGE PACKAGE OF INSTANT FRENCH VANILLA PUDDING with the "pie filling" amount of milk (about 1/4 cup less than for the regular directions).
Allow the pudding to set up and cool.
Combine with 1 tsp VANILLA and 1 SMALL PACKAGE OF COOL WHIPP.
Melt 2 squares of SEMI-SWEET CHOCOLATE (or a little less than 1/2 cup of chocolate chips).
Mix in 2 Tbsp BUTTER, 2 Tbsp MILK, 1 tsp VANILLA, 1 cup POWDERED SUGAR.
(If it doesn't turn out to be a spreadable consistency, add a little more milk. If it seems too runny, add a little more powdered sugar).
Once the pastry has cooled, carefully slice it in two and flip the top onto another plate. Spoon in the filling. Replace the top. Top with frosting. Serve or refrigerate. (The pastry will get a little soggy if you leave it overnight). It should serve 10-12 normal people, or 2-3 Dannys.