The End of the Éclair

I remember as a child being unable to sleep one night and padding downstairs in the dark. My parents were on the couch watching a film. As soon as they saw me, my mom leapt for the remote and immediately pressed the pause button.

I was intrigued. What could be so bad that my parents wouldn’t want me to see? “We’re watching The End of the Affair. You can read or watch it someday… when you’re older.”

It was around this age that I began parochial school. Although completely dreadful in most ways, one thing I always looked forward to was lunchtime in the cafeteria. The school sold chocolate éclairs for 50 cents (which, looking back, weren’t éclairs at all as much as ice cream bars with a sophisticated name). The cafeteria treat and the scandalous content of Graham Greene’s work were both delicious, and fifteen years later, I still can’t get enough.

Graham Greene is one of my favorite writers. He captures the serious flaws and complexities of relationships without being too dense. His writing style is not unlike an éclair: the structure is simple and light, but it’s complexity comes from the internal flavor. Both a Graham Greene novel and a simple éclair are quite satisfying – you’ll find yourself filled to the brim but still wanting to come back for more.

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Body (pastry part of the éclair):

1/2 stick butter

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup flour

2 eggs (one whole, one white only)

pinch of salt

sprinkle of cinnamon

Filling:

1/2 stick butter

4 oz. block of cream cheese

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

1 cup confectioner sugar

dash of light cream

sprinkle of cinnamon

Instruction:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. In saucepan, melt butter and water until just boiling. Take off burner and whisk in flour, salt, and cinnamon until blended evenly.

3. After the mixture has cooled, beat in eggs. If you do this too soon, the still-warm mixture will scramble the eggs.

4. When mixture is fully blended, use tablespoon to dollop dough onto a greased baking sheet. Should yield about six blobs of dough.

5. Bake for about 20 minutes in oven, or until light brown. Dough should puff up into light pastries.

6. With fork, mash together softened butter and cream cheese until blended. Add vanilla and confectioner sugar. Add a sprinkle of cinnamon and a dash of heavy cream, depending on consistency (should be like a thin frosting) and whisk again.

7. Assembly time. With a small knife, make small incision in each pastry. This should happen quite easily, as the pastries should puff up to be light to the point of almost hollow.

8. Using a piping bag (or your own makeshift piper made out of a plastic bag with a small hole cut in a corner), fill each pastry with the buttercream mixture.

9. Garnish as you like! For example, add a small dollop of leftover buttercream on top of each éclair and sprinkle a bit of cinnamon over the plate.

Enjoy éclairs with The End of the Affair by Graham Greene, and check in at warandpeach.wordpress.com for future recipes and book reviews!

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