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.
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.
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.