Thursday, June 23, 2011

Chocolate Éclairs

Sometimes I’m just buzzing with energy. Like right now. It’s hard to explain, but when this happens, I cannot really control myself. I get this feeling now and then. It’s not too common though. But it does happen. When it does, I speak fast, I walk fast, I type fast (and make lots of mistakes and have to press the back space constantly), I blab on about nothing, and say things that I wouldn’t normally say, although I wish I did. And what does that even mean anyway???! See…basically I get lost. So right now, I’m engaging in some blog therapy, with the hope that it will bring me back down to earth.

Recently, I took up a new job. Actually it is my first official job (I delivered newspapers in NZ!). I am now a barista/vendor at Art of Bread, a new bakery and cafe in Narberth owned by the one and only Georges Perrier. It’s a pretty cool place, with pretty cool people. Chef Perrier comes by now and then (meaning everyday, at least for now) and checks that everything is running smoothly. The first day I met him was pretty scary. As soon as Chef Perrier walked in, I was told to clean up any messes, put dirty stuff away, and be extremely kind and cheerful. I have to admit, he was VERY intimidating at first. Man, that guy has so much authority! However, after a meeting with him the other day, I realized that he is actually quite reasonable and nice. I’m looking forward to getting to know him better over the next few months. He’s definitely a great connection to have!

I’ve always wanted to work at a café, so it’s very exciting that I’m finally able to do so. It can get extremely busy at Art of Bread, but I manage to have fun at the same time. Art of Bread has GORGEOUS French pastries. Like I mean, they look unbelievable. Believe me. They have what you would expect at a typical French boulangerie and patisserie such as croissants, baguettes, tarts, and danishes. All the pastries are made fresh in the back and the cakes and tarts are delivered from Le Bec Fin every morning. Wow. Art of Bread should pay me for this great ad. Really.

So. Chocolate éclairs. By now, you probably could’ve guessed that working at Art of Bread prompted my making of these French desserts. My friend Jamie got a chocolate éclair from Art of Bread while I was working there the other day. She had made them with her mom before and I have a special thing for them so, well, we just had to make some of our own! In New Zealand I would always make small chocolate éclairs, or profiteroles, for dinner parties. It was kinda my thing to make. A recipe to my profiteroles can be found here.

Sorry that this post is so long and convoluted. It’s what happens when, well, this happens.


100g butter
1 cup water
1 cup plain flour
3 eggs
Heavy cream
Confectioners’ sugar
Semi-sweet chocolate


1. Preheat the oven to 395 degrees F.
2. Combine butter and water in a saucepan. Bring to a rolling boil. Remove from heat and quickly add the flour. Beat with a wooden spoon until the mixture leaves the sides of the pan. Allow to cool for 5 minutes.
3. Add the eggs one at a time to the saucepan, beating well with an electric beater after each addition. The mixture should be glossy. Pipe 3 inch strips of the pastry onto a greased oven tray and bake in the oven for 30 minutes or until puffy and golden.
4. Lower the temperature to 250 degrees F and continue baking for about 15 minutes until dry. Cool completely.
5. Using an electric beater, whip the heavy cream until it has soft peaks. Add confectioners’ sugar to desired sweetness.
6. When the éclairs are cooled, make a slit one side of each pastry and fill with the whipped cream.
7. Melt some chocolate on a double boiler and smear over the top.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Chocolate Dipped Pretzels

Pretzels are uniquely American in the same way that fortune cookies and chop suey are American. The first soft pretzel I saw was on Ellis Island when I was on vacation in the US four years ago. Prior to that sighting, I had only seen small packaged hard pretzels in the specialty aisle in New Zealand supermarkets. To be honest, I don’t quite comprehend the appeal of pretzels. It is just over-salted bread. Although originated from Europe, pretzels have become an integral part of the typical American diet, along with donuts and burgers.

It doesn’t take much to dip pretzels in chocolate. I wish I could tell you that I had made the chocolate and the pretzels. Now THAT would be impressive. I just really wanted to share the pictures; thus, this post became necessary.


Semi-sweet chocolate
Hard pretzels
Toppings (such as chopped walnuts)


1. Melt the chocolate over a double boiler. Dip the pretzels in the chocolate and place on wax paper. Sprinkled on any desired toppings. Wait until the chocolate has hardened before carefully peeling each pretzel off and storing in a sealed container.