Saturday, January 21, 2006

Blog Party # 6 - The Retro Party

I have been seriously slacking in the cooking department this year! Think I better get back into the groove of cooking plus baking or else, my lazybone will take over. I missed last month's Blog Party but decided that I'm not missing it this month.

Stephanie from Dispensing Happiness, the hostess with the mostest is throwing THE Retro Party which features food from the 40s and the 60s. I'm not too sure about the 40s and the 50s but I still have old cookbooks from the 60s courtesy from my mother. Flicking through the Woman's Own Book of Cake Decorating and Cake Making published in 1966, I spied cute little cream puffs that were in the vogue then. I originally wanted to make my puffs in swan shapes but they looked a bit complicated for a beginner like me. Instead, I settled for chocolate eclairs which I mini sized for the party so they are easy to pop into your mouth in two bites.

Here's my platter of food and drink for the party. The drink is a bit of a dud as I reckon nothing goes better with sweet stuff but just a cup of hot tea. I served it in these teeny weeny old tea cups my mother has that must have came from the 1960s. I actually have a soft spot for old plates and am always on the look out for nice pieces in antique shops or junk shops. So far, I have yet to find anything nice but my favourites are the ones which come with a blue and white country scene from Britain.

A close up of my yummy chocolate eclairs. The top bit is not smooth as I used Valrhona Caraibe with chopped hazelnuts. The eclair shells are crispy and nice but I was dissapointed with my pastry cream. Guess I should have used vanilla beans to flavour the cream but I didn't have any in stock when I decided to make this. I will definitely make the eclairs again as they were really simple to make. On the pastry cream, I reckon I need to experiment with different fillings and various cookbooks to get them right. The eclair receipe came from Wicked Sweet Indulgences from the Australian Women's Weekly cookbook series.

Choux Pastry

20 grams butter
60 ml water
35 grams plain flour
1 egg

Preheat oven to 220C. Lightly grease oven trays. Combine butter and water in small saucepan, bring to the boil. Add sifted flour and beat with wooden spoon over heat until mixture comes away from the sides of the saucepan and forms a smooth ball.

Transfer mixture to a small bowl, beat in egg with electric mixer until mixture becomes glossy. Spoon mixture into pastry bag filled with 1cm plain tube. Pipe 5cm lengths of the choux pastry mixture 3 cm apart onto prepared trays.Bake in oven 220c for 7 minutes. Reduce heat to 180c and bake for further 10 minutes or until eclairs are lightly brown and crisp. Carefully cut eclairs in half and remove any uncooked portion. Bake further for 5 minutes or until eclairs are dried out. Cool to room temperature. You can pipe the cream and smooth the top with melted dark chocolate.

Pastry Cream

250 ml milk
1/2 vanilla bean, split
3 egg yolks
75 grams sugar
2 tablespoons cornflour

Heat milk with vanilla beans to infuse milk. Bring to the boil and discard vanilla bean. Beat egg yolks, sugar and cornflour in small bowl till thick. With the motor running, gradually beat in the milk. Return custard to saucepan and heat until it thickens, constantly stirring it to prevent burns.

Update: Stephanie has posted the round-up, do hop over there and savour some lovely party treats from all over the world.

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Stephanie said...

boo_licious, I'm so happy you could make it to the party...and bring dessert, as well!

Whenever I make things like this (and I have made elcairs in the past), I used agar agar (instead of the traditional gelatin, for what I believe are obvious reasons) for the pastry cream. Gives it a smoother and creamier texture.

Thanks so much for joining us!

Nupur said...

Oh Boo, those look sooo good! These pastries are making a come-back now, they are really "in" in NYC right now. I have to learn how to make these!

*kel said...

Boolicious, Xin Nian Kuai Le! I haven't read that book - A Year In Provence yet. I should prob pick one up. I'm sure I'll like it as much as you did. Man, thanks for sharing the eclair recipes. I'll try them out!! I used to think they are tough to do but you make it sound so simple! I just wrote about a meal that a talented frenchboy made for me and and my darling. Check it out.

un beso,
kel @ Green Olive Tree

*kel said...

btw i wonder if vanilla beans are expensive in malaysia. I went to the store to get vanilla in powder form here in Barcelona. They were 4.35 euro!! just a tiny tiny bottle, and mixed with a little sugar.

boo_licious said...

Stephanie - thanks for hosting and your treats look great.

Nupur - thanks, Splashie Boy demolished all of them. I love your fondue idea.

Kel - vanilla beans quite pricy if from Madagascar but nowadays they sell those from Indonesia so cheaper. I must try the Pierre Herme recipe for eclairs as now I know it ain't as hard as I thought. Do read A year in provence, it's really funny.

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