"D'eclairation" of love

Valentine’s Day brings up interesting memories of love and … chocolate!

Maybe it was my recent foray into Sheila Lukins’ cookbook that stirred up memories of France. Or it could have been the movie Julie & Julia. Whatever the cause, I had a clear recollection of me at age 13. The school language fair was coming up. As a French student, I had a part — dancing the can-can and making something French for a bake sale.  My best friend Laurie and I dreamed of cream puffs – les profiteroles. The delicate pastry, the custard filling, all drenched in chocolate.  I had a recipe, thanks to my latest issue of Seventeen magazine. We could hardly wait to get started.

Pastry puffs, drying

We labored for hours in the kitchen. First, the puffs. Beautiful tawny clouds.  I had never made such a thing. Then the custard (licking the spoon all along). and finally the chocolate sauce (we used every drop). My parents were away on a trip so my grandparents were staying with my brother and me. My grandfather kept an eye on all the activity in the kitchen.  He would stroll through occasionally. “Can I have one?” No . A quarter a piece.  “I’ll buy em.” No, they’re for the school fund-raiser.

We boxed them up, and headed off to the fair. Sometime after the can-can, I was manning the booth and the puffs started flying. One of our first customers? My grandfather.  There he was, grinning, buying a plateful to tote back home.

Custard helper extraordinaire

The Seventeen magazine article is long lost but this weekend I turned to Julia Child’s The Way to Cook to save the day.

This time my nearly 14 y.o. son showed up in the kitchen — to help.  I made the puffs, he handled the custard filling. For the chocolate sauce, we turned to Sheila Lukins and her All Around the World Cookbook for a simple blend of butter, chocolate and cream.

I think my grandfather would have liked these puffs. I wince now to think of it. Poor grandaddy. Made him trot up to the junior high because his granddaughter was too selfish to share. But years later I realize it was his sweet way of supporting me. He noticed, he showed up. It’s no wonder that man has always had a little bit of my heart, even now, 30 years since he passed away.

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