Absolutely Nothing Going On : When The Other Choux Drops, by Micki Myers

I know profiteroles are dreadfully 1985, but I rather like them — a toothsomely flaky crunch of pastry holding some creamy concoction, all drizzled with spun sugar or chocolate syrup or flaked almonds. I’ve never had a problem with them; the directions are simple enough. I even made them for my Home Economics GCSE, which was otherwise sabotaged by the teacher’s provision of a block of frozen spinach over fresh (I had stupidly forgotten to specify — but I didn’t know at the time you could even get it frozen, so naïve was I).

So I decided to make éclairs for my future in-laws when visiting them the other weekend. I am on a programme of trying to win them over with the regular application of home-cooking, either at their house or sent in parcels back with my beloved. They liked the lemon curd, the jams, the madelines, the two flavors of gelato, the blueberry pancakes, the acorn squash soup and the coq-au-vin. In the oven they went, all nicely piped out in 4-inch tubes of smooth paste on a moistened baking sheet.

And out they came: exactly the same, only flatter and more solid and ever so slightly more golden. I only averted disaster by inventing a dessert called “whipped ganache sandwiches” whose architecture you can imagine for yourselves. Especially as I didn’t honor them with a snapshot.

I do not take failure well, especially in the kitchen, so this weekend I was determined to salvage my reputation by making a big batch of profiteroles for some houseguests. The lovely golfball-sized nuts of glossy dough went into the oven……and out they came, just as they went in, only as leaden versions of what youthful promise they had going in. I didn’t even try to rescue them, so in the bin they went.

Have I fallen afoul of some pastry gods somewhere? Have I not made the right sacrifices with the right things at the right time? Is there a hush-hush choux curse known among patissiers of which I am unaware? Are the atmospheric and astrological conditions not right? (Note how ready I am to blame the cosmos) — or is it just me? Have I lost my touch? I am at a loss, waiting for the next choux to drop.

My pâte brisée remains, thankfully, unscathed by demonic influence, so it’s quiche tonight. Go on, ‘gis a quiche. Come to think of it, maybe it’s the puns.

 



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