Today we put the premise to the test: Are these recipes easy enough that children can do them on their own? In the case of the eclairs, the answer unfortunately is no.
The idea behind “The River Cottage Family Cookbook” that children 12 and over should be able to do the recipes on their own, those aged 10-12 would only need a little adult help. My helper Nicholas is only 8, so perhaps he is still young. Also, and perhaps more crucially, eclairs are pretty laborious, so I’m not surprised that he couldn’t do it on his own.
But Nicholas (age 8) did enjoy helping. He had a blast sifting, stirring and breaking up chocolate. At least he did until the time it was to make the cream filling and he said, “I need to go upstairs and have a rest on the sofa.” To be fair, I wanted to join him.
The good thing about this recipe is that it makes eclairs, which can be a bit daunting, seem achievable. In our rush to eat them, the chocolate topping didn’t quite work, but I think that was down to operator error and the rush to eat them. By the next day, with time setting in the refrigerator, it was fine.
I was pretty pleased with the result. When I make them again, I’ll know what pitfalls to avoid and they might look even better. The boys were even more pleased. Nicholas said, “These were even better than I expected, and I expected them to be AMAZING.” Andrew said, “These are BRILLIANT!”
Nicholas, who very much likes to help out in the kitchen, did a fair amount of it himself, including stirring the choux pastry. We kept looking at each other and asking, “Is it done yet? Is it smooth and shiny?”
The piping I did, using the new disposable pastry bags I got for Christmas. The next time I do it, I’ll make the opening much three times as large as Hugh suggested, since he said 1 centimetre, but more like 3 centimetres would be better. Using a freezer bag wouldn’t be a million miles away from using a pastry bag. Don’t panic if you’ve never done that before, it looks far more complicated than it actually is.
Photo by Nicholas. Pretty good, huh? Nice use of the shadows, which I’m sure he intended.
Would we make this again? Yes indeed. It’d be a great project for a snow day– not that we have them much in London, but a girl can dream.