As I may have mentioned before, I am very fortunate to spend my days managing the Food & Wine program at the BCAE. This means I get to work with chefs –some hobbyists, some professional, all extremely talented— to produce classes for the culinarily curious of Greater Boston.
The BCAE was recently recognized by Boston Magazine and the Improper Bostonian for offering the city’s Best Arts Education and Best Classes, respectively. Each year, we serve about 12,000 students, and from this group comes a subset of incredibly devoted chefs in training that make up the BCAE Epicurean Society. These folks take between 5 and 20 Food & Wine classes with us each year, which is big -huge!
(The BCAE Epicurean Society Logo, designed by Becky from Pop & Circumstance!)
A few weeks back, we decided throw a party to show our thanks. Like everything that happens at the Center, the celebration would not have been possible without a team of incredibly talented instructors and extremely generous donors. Three beloved BCAE vets stepped up to the stove (er, plate) to provide our party with heavy apps and decadent desserts. 90+ wines, Polar Beverages, and Deep Eddy Vodka were on hand to help us wash it all down.
(One of the awesome door prizes, generously donated by Eat Boutique!)
(The 90+ bar, and the headless form of my coworker. Sorry, Andrew!)
A small and fairly exclusive affair, the students mixed and mingled and were all too happy to oblige when I asked them questions about what they liked and didn’t like about the program. I read students’ course evaluations daily, but it was amazing to get real time feedback. By the time I left I had gained great deal of insight about what happens when my shift ends and the night classes begin, as well as a wealth of new ideas for classes to program and chefs to feature.
I’m thankful for the BCAE’s students and forever grateful to our team of amazing instructors who happily share their talents, time and again.
In the spirit of sharing, I asked instructor extraordinaire Dustin Rennells to share his recipe for Chocolate Eclairs, one of the many treats he prepared for the party. Enjoy!
(The array of tasty treats provided by Dustin. Check out more of what he does at Bad Boy Bake Shop!)
Chef Dustin’s Chocolate Eclairs (Pate a Choux)
Pate a Choux
2 t Sugar
1.5 sticks Butter
2 c Flour
¼ t Salt
1.5 c Walter
8 Whole Eggs
2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup sugar, divided
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds scraped
Pinch of salt
4 large egg yolks
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
In a medium saucepan, combine milk, 1/4 cup sugar, vanilla bean and seeds, and salt. Cook over medium heat until mixture comes to a simmer. In a medium bowl, whisk together egg yolks, cornstarch, and remaining 1/4 cup sugar. Whisking constantly, slowly pour about 1/2 cup of the hot-milk mixture into the egg-yolk mixture, 1/2 cup at a time, until it has been incorporated. Pour mixture back into saucepan, and cook over medium-high heat, whisking constantly, until it thickens and registers 160 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, about 2 minutes. Remove and discard vanilla bean. Transfer to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the butter, and beat on medium speed until the butter melts and the mixture cools, about 5 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly onto the surface of the pastry cream to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until chilled, at least 2 hours or up to 2 days. Just before using, beat on low speed until smooth (you can also whisk by hand).
Preheat Oven to 450 degrees. Boil butter and water in 2qt pan, once boiling dump in flour all at once. Stir, return to high heat until forms a ball (1 min). Place in stand mixer, whip 1 min, add in eggs one at a time until thick and ribbony. Pour into a pastry bag. Pip 1.5 inch circles onto parchment. Bake 10-15 min at 450 until puffed, Reduce to 350, bake 10 more mins or no moisture on crevices. Turn off heat, dry out for 10 mins. Fill immediately with pastry cream once fully cooled.
1 cup heavy cream
8 oz chocolate, finely chopped
Microwave cream until very warm to touch. Pour over chocolate pieces. Let sit 2 mins, stir until combined.
Glaze chocolate over éclair puff.