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Volume III
August 26, 2011

Weekly Home / Cook'n & Eat'n

COOK'N 101: One of the Easiest Desserts You'll Ever Make!

By Alice Osborne

Have you heard of Chocolate Éclair Cake? I hadn't until I read about it in a copy of the magazine, Cook's Country (June/July 2011). The article explained that the recipe for this dessert is virtually nonexistent in cookbooks, but that it's all over the Internet. So I went looking, and sure enough, there it was.

As I studied a wide variety of sources, the thing I noticed was just what the Cook's Country magazine reported—nearly all the recipes proceed the same way: make a fake mousse filling by folding in Cool Whip (uh uh—I always use sweetened whipped cream—I prefer real food) into instant vanilla pudding; line a casserole dish with graham crackers; top the graham crackers with half of the "mousse," layer more graham crackers, the remaining mousse, and one final layer of grahams. To finish, gild the lily with canned chocolate frosting (uh uh again—I prefer my homemade chocolate frosting made with real butter rather than shortening—yuk).

Now here's the deal: When I made this the first time, the filling was a little runny—it didn't support the weight of the crackers and icing very well, so I went searching for an answer to this. I found the solution on a card in my Aunt Annie's recipe box. It was titled, "Stabilizing Whipped Cream." Hey, I didn't know whipped cream needed stabilizing—well not until I tried making this éclair cake. Now I see the need.

So here's what the card said to do:

•Whip the cream to soft peaks
•Stir in softened Knox gelatin (the directions for softening the gelatin are on the box)
•Continue whipping until stiff peaks are formed

The other thing I decided to do was add less liquid when I would make the pudding. And I also decided to substitute cream for the water called for on the box directions.

So the next time I made this dessert, I stabilized my whipped cream before I folded it into the vanilla pudding (made with cream, remember). Wow—the results were amazing. This "mousse" fully supported the crackers and icing, and the taste was superb.

We took this treat to a neighborhood potluck the other day and it was the "!" (That's kid-speak for super successful.) Everyone wanted to know how to make it. Now YOU know—give it a try and see if your next potluck or picnic gang doesn't rave about it as well.

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