I remember the time Ryan and I were married for about 4 years, and always dreamed of the day we could live away from Utah for a while. We loved our families so much, but we desperately felt like we needed our own little lives. So when the law school applications went out, we sent them everywhere.
Long story short, we ended up being accepted here in Utah and somewhere else. We were a little disappointed at first, but slowly realized everything was going to be just fine if we stayed here. After his first year of law school, he was chosen for a clerkship in Washington DC. We were so excited to have our own little adventure for 4 months outside of Utah, we also had a 2 month old at the time. Poor Ryan worked long and crazy hours when we lived over there, but I had the time of my life that summer! We lived in Maryland, and I took the metro into DC 2-3 times a week with that little baby of ours. I saw everything. I made sure of it. I had amazing adventures, and didn't care hot blazing hot it was some days. It was incredible, and I loved every second if that adventure (minus the long-hours-for-Ryan part). I saw everything I wanted to see in DC by the time summer drew to it's closure. We even drove to Ocean City for a day at the beach, and visited Gettysburg for an afternoon. It was just the three of us, and we finally had our chance to "just be us" for a while.
The summer had ended, and although I had the time of my life, I realized something very important...
I needed family.
I longed for my family.
I knew I had my Ryan+Son family, but I needed my Mom. I needed my sister, my brothers, my mother-in-law, my husbands family; including those crazy brothers of his. Even though I was surrounded by all kinds of really wonderful and beautiful things, I was on the other side of the United States, hundreds of miles away from my family.
It was then I realized that Ryan and I, after law school, really wanted to stay here in Utah. We needed to have them around. We needed to celebrate with them. We needed to be there for them. We needed to cry with them. We needed to watch our little son grow up with his cousins, aunts, uncles, and most importantly: his grandparents nearby. After law school, Ryan started working downtown Salt Lake City. We moved closer to it, and haven't been happier to not-move-and-live-out-of-the-state in our entire lives.
I know sometimes I feel like we're on a season on Parenthood with both of our ENTIRE families living in Utah now (on both sides, it's crazy!), but more often these days, we find ourselves relishing in the promise of the future. Grandparents coming to basketball games. Future children (hopefully someday, ugh) to be welcomed with more of the family around to enjoy. Celebrating little things like a kindergarten graduation, a lame fourth-of-July parade with llamas yet again, a middle school play, or sneaking over to see my niece all dolled up for her first prom someday. Even celebrating the big things like a baptism, wedding, or even being there if a death in the family happened upon us.
I guess what I'm saying is: Family is so important, and I love having them all so close (drama and all). After all, they're the best babysitters on the planet, right? ;)
These eclairs are a perfect little thing to make together as a family. They're something a little challenging for the beginner, fun enough for the moderate, and tasty enough for the pro's. A huge plus: the filling comes from a can. Sounds like a cop-out, but I promise, if you're going for the traditional lemon meringue pie filling, it's gotta be the can. If not, whip up some cream and mix it in. Or make it from scratch! haah. Just don't tell me.
Making a pate a choux is much more simple than most people realize. That's why they give you that "ohhh!!!" when they see you making eclairs. The secret is: they're super easy, but just take a little care along the way. Plus, you can fill them with just about anything you're craving dessert-wise, so anyone is bound to love an ecliar.
My meringue isn't perfect on these little guys, but on the super-rainy day I decided to make them, I'll take it! Just make sure your eggs are room temperature, and that you whip the heck out of them before you add in that sugar. Also, the torch is my favorite way to toast these guys up. The oven is nice, but for me, it melts the inside of the cooled eclair too much for my taste.
But really, guys. The taste in these little eclairs is incredible! It really tastes just like biting into a lemon meringue pie! We adored these, shared them with friends, and then immediately wished we had doubled the batch.
Lemon Meringue Eclairs
makes 2 dozen eclairs, depending on size
lemon pie filling (canned - in the baking section)
pate a choux:
1 C water
1 stick unsalted butter
1 T granulated sugar
1/4 t salt
1 C all purpose flour, sifted
4 large eggs
1 egg beaten + 1 t water for egg wash
4 egg whites
1 pinch cream of tartar
2 T granulated sugar
1. make the pate a choux, preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Combine the water, butter, sugar, and salt, and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Take the pan off the heat and stir in all the flour using a wooden spoon until barely combined.
2. Return the pan back to the heat and cook for about 3 minutes, stirring, until dough forms and is pulling away from the sides of the pan; forming a ball. Remove from the heat again, and let rest for 5 minutes, cooling the dough.
3. Once dough is cooled quite a bit, beat the eggs in a separate bowl, and then add them to the pan with the cooled dough. Stir with a whisk until the consistency is thick and even, about 3-5 minutes.
4. Fill a pastry bag, without a tip and only a wide opening about 1/2 inch round, with the dough. On a parchment-lined baking sheet, pipe 3-4 inch lines of even dough, leaving 1-2 inches between each one. If a tail forms after piping, dip a little egg wash over the tail to pat it down. Brush the piped dough with egg wash, and run a fork lightly longways down to help the dough cook evenly.
5. Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 375. Bake another 20-25 minutes until pastries are golden brown and hollow when tapped. Remove from the oven, and let cool completely.
6. make the meringue: whip the room temperature egg whites and cream of tartar together until stiff peaks form. Slowly add in the sugar and continue to whip until glossy stiff peaks form. Set aside while you fill the eclairs. If they deflate while you're filling the eclairs, whip them up again at medium high speed until stiff peaks form again.
7. fill 'em up: Fill up pastry bag with a circle 1/2 inch tip with the lemon pie filling. With a sharp knife, cut 2-3 small X's in the bottom of each cooled eclair. They should be completely hollow. With the filled pastry bag, press the circle tip into the X and gently squeeze piping bag. Repeat with remaining X's if needed. Don't overfill, or the eclair will explode. Less is more, but you definitely need enough to fill it.
8. When all the eclairs are filled with lemon goodness, fill yet another piping bag with a 1M star tip or any other large decorative tip (large the tip the better). Pipe a design (I did a bunch of close S's) on the eclairs. When finished, place in a broiling oven for a few minutes, or burn with a torch. Serve immediately, or chill until ready to serve.
recipe adapted from: food for my family