Tuesday, October 03, 2023

Little Treats for the Little Flower

Sketch by Katherine Makowsky

In the traditional calendar, the feast of St. Thérèse of Lisieux is on October 3. The youngest Doctor of the Church took her Carmelite vocation seriously, which included a rigorous asceticism. Yet Therese was above a joyful soul. Tonight, you can spread her saintly joy and practice her “little way” with food and drink.

Not many know that Saint Thérèse is a patron saint of pilots. Before she died in 1897, the twenty-four-year-old nun promised that she would “spend my Heaven doing good on earth,” and she certainly kept her word. During World War I (years before her canonization) combatants on both sides reported seeing a Carmelite nun aiding the wounded on the front lines. Consequently, many soldiers, especially French, began carrying her image with them into battle. French pilots in particular became attached to her, and that is how she became an intercessor for aviators.
Thérèse intercedes during the Great War
The Aviation cocktail, which celebrated its 100th birthday in 2016, is a classic, its crème de violette adding a luminous hint of purple.

2 oz. gin
¾ oz. lemon juice
½ oz. maraschino liqueur
¼ oz. crème de violette
1 lemon twist
Pour all liquid ingredients into a shaker filled with ice and shake forty times. Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with lemon twist.
I doubt that there was a bar in Thérèse’s convent, but it has been reported that she had a fondness for chocolate éclairs and that she valued the hard work that goes into producing these delicacies. We can even pretend that we are eating éclairs because the chocolate reminds us of the color of Thérèse's Carmelite habit, rather than the obvious fact that they are irresistibly delicious.

Cooking Time: 2.5 hours
Serves 10-12 éclairs

Ingredients for the Pastry Dough
½ cup of unsalted butter
1 cup of water
¼ tsp salt
1 cup of all purpose flour
4 eggs, large and room temperature

Ingredients for the Pastry Cream
2 ½ cups of whole milk
½ cup granulated sugar
6 large egg yolks
⅓ cup cornstarch
2 tsp vanilla extract

Ingredients for the Chocolate Glaze
½ cup of semisweet chocolate chips
½ cup of heavy whipping cream
1. Preheat oven to 420 degrees and prepared the center rack in the oven.
2. Prepared two rimmed baking sheets lined with parchment paper.
3. In a sauce pan over medium heat, combing the butter, water, and salt and bring to a boil until all the butter is completely melted
4. Add all of the flour at one time and mix together until a dough is formed and water is evaporated, constantly stirring, approximately 2-3 minutes
5. Add the dough to a stand mixer with a paddle attachment and add one egg at a time, making sure all of the egg is fully incorporated into the dough before adding another egg
6. Transfer dough to a pastry bag with a ⅝ inch start tip
7. Pipe about 4 inches of dough onto the parchment paper
8. Bake for 10 - 12 minutes at 420 degrees and then take out the baking sheet
9. Reduce heat to 370 and cook for another 18-20 minutes more
10. When properly cooked, the shell of the pastry should be crispy on top but seemingly hallow in the center when lightly tapped
11. Cook each pastry on a caking rack for about 30 minutes before filling in the éclairs with cream
12. To make the pastry cream, warm the milk on the stove at medium heat until small bubbles appear
13. In a separate heat resistant bowl, whisk together the sugar, egg yolks, cornstarch and salt until fully incorporated
14. Temper the eggs by adding a few tablespoons of hot milk into the eggs while whisking vigorously to avoid scrambling the eggs
15. Continue to pour the rest of the milk in a thin stream into the eggs, continuously whisking
16. Return the egg mixture to the saucepan, and continue whisking over medium heat until it forms a pudding consistency
17. Allow the mixture to cool in an ice bath and place a layer of plastic wrap directly over the cream to avoid textural inconsistencies
18. To make the chocolate sauce, warm cream until it begins to steam and form small bubbles
19. Put the chocolate in a heat resistant bowl and pour the cream over the chocolate and allow it to warm the chocolate, about 1 minute, before whisking the melting chocolate
20. Add the sugar and continue to whisk until smooth and silky
21. To assemble the éclairs, fill a piping bag, using a 3/16 inch tip, with the cream
22. Poke about 4 holes in each of the éclair pastries. Fill each hold with the cream, about 1 Tablespoon of cream for each eclair
23. Use a spoon to spread the chocolate over the side of the éclairs with the holes
24. Allow these to set in a chilled environment for about 20-30 minutes before serving
The Aviation is based on the recipe from the author’s Drinking with Your Patron Saints; the recipe for éclairs is taken from Dining with the Saints, co-written with Fr. Leo Patalinghug.

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