I am one of the thousands (millions?) of Americans with anxiety and depression. But I think I’ve finally figured out how to (sometimes) ease myself out of my depressive state. Traditional “self-care” tactics never seemed to work for me. Things like taking a bath, painting my nails, la da da. And I felt like a failure because I couldn’t rely upon those things to help me out. I thought I’d be depressed forever (and I still often feel that way temporarily). So one major thing that helps me is knowing and telling myself that this feeling is temporary and fleeting, not a permanent state. Too often, thanks to black or white thinking, I felt doomed to exist in a tortured state of depression for my entire life. Sometimes depression hangs around longer than I’d like but it always passes at some point. This knowledge is something, that when repeated to myself over and over, allows me to ease up and move on.
Okay here’s another one that’s helped me — not thinking about my day, week, month, or life in total but taking it step by step. Like literally asking myself, what is the smallest easiest thing that I can do next to make myself feel a tiny bit better. Today it was walking my dog. Then it was taking a shower. Then it was realizing that I desperately needed to leave the house and interact with other humans. Now I’m at a coffee shop writing this and soon I will leave and ask myself what the next best thing is. But the key for me is not thinking too far ahead, but rather just one small step ahead otherwise I can get overwhelmed.
I made these eclairs weeks and weeks ago and am now just posting about them. Thoughts of self doubt and fear to write plague me every day. I mean blogging to a crowd of 20 is pretty low stakes right? hahaha not even.
I’ve never been a fan of eclairs or pastry cream. Crazy and weird, right? My sisters always wanted to make cream puffs and I’d rather make chocolate chip cookies. And because I never liked pate choux or pastry cream, I never made them. In the past few months however I have made vanilla bean pastry cream and coconut milk pastry cream and I loved both of them.
The recipe and method for this pastry cream comes from the Bouchon Bakery cookbook. The method is something I had never done before and rather quite liked it. For a usual pastry cream you temper the eggs into the hot milk mixture. In this method you beat the eggs and sugar in a stand mixer and slowly pour in the milk or coconut milk in this case. You then put all of that in a saucepan to heat up and thicken.
Eclair dough – recipe from Bouchon Bakery cookbook
1 cup water
4.2 ounces butter
heaping 3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cup flour
2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons sugar
1 cup eggs
Combine water, butter and salt in a saucepan on medium low heat. Stir until butter melts. Bring to a simmer. Remove from heat and add flour and sugar. Stir for 2 minutes until the dough has a paste like consistency. Place back on medium heat and keep stirring for 1 to 2 minutes until the dough pulls away from the sides of the saucepan.
Remove from heat and pour into a bowl for a stand mixer. Mix for 30 seconds on low speed. Slowly add the eggs a little bit at a time, making sure that eggs are incorporated into dough before adding more. Beat for 15 seconds more after all eggs have been added. Lift the paddle and the dough should droop down and form a point hanging off of the paddle but it should not break off or run down. Transfer dough to a piping bag and refrigerate till cold.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Pipe lines of dough onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Place pans in oven and lower temperature to 350 degrees. Bake for 40 minutes just until eclairs start to brown. Then lower temperature to 325 degrees and bake for 20 minutes more. Then lower to 300 degrees and bake for 10 minutes more. The eclairs should be nice and hollow at this point. Remove from oven and let cool.
Chocolate coconut milk pastry cream – recipe adapted from Bouchon Bakery cookbook
1 can coconut milk (full fat)
1/4 cup egg yolks
2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons flour
heaping 1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 + 2 tablespoons sugar
6.2 ounces chocolate (1 ounce unsweetened + 5.2 ounces dark/semisweet)
1.8 ounces butter
Mix together cocoa powder and flour.
Place yolks in stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment. Mix on medium for 30 seconds. Reduce speed and slowly add sugar. Continue to whisk on medium until light in color about 1 1/2 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl. Continue to whisk for 3 more minutes until pale and thick.
Reduce speed to low and add flour and cocoa mixture. Mix for 30 seconds. Then slowly add the coconut milk. Scrape down sides and mix for another minute or so.
Pour mixture into saucepan over medium heat. Stir until mix begins to thicken. Switch over to a whisk and keep mixing for about 5 more minutes until mix is even thicker. Remove from heat and pour through a strainer into a bowl. Whisk in butter and chocolate. Cover with plastic wrapped pressed onto the top of the cream to make sure a film doesn’t form. Refrigerate.
6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
1 tablespoon coconut oil
toasted coconut flakes
Instructions: Over a pot of simmering water melt chocolate and coconut oil in a medium sized bowl.
Place pastry cream in a piping bag fitted with small circular tip. Take one eclair, flip it over and poke 2 holes on opposite ends. Applying firm and continuous pressure, pipe cream into each of the two holes of the eclair. Repeat with each eclair.
To cover in chocolate, take each eclair and flip it over so the top is upside down, submerge the top in the melted chocolate. Shake gently to remove excess chocolate. Flip back over and place on parchment or cooling rack. Repeat with remaining eclairs. Top each eclair with toasted coconut.