Rise and Fall
So somehow I ended up at David Lebovitz's blog and specifically his post about Chouquettes. Being me, which is to say obsessive, I was seized with an absolutely MANIA for making these. I had already made pate a choux a few weeks ago for gougeres, so I was confident and familiar that I could master this recipe.

One of the major problems was finding pearl AKA crystal sugar-large coarse sugar crystals (not the same as "sanding sugar" which is often colored and used to decorate sugar cookies in my grandmother's house). I went to William Sonoma and Eli's with no success. After that I called Broadway Panhandler and the person who picked up the phone responded to my inquiry with an uninspiring "I guess."

Luckily Smitten of Smitten Kitchen was as obsessed as I was and discovered that NY Cake and Bake carries "pearl" sugar. Today I went there having never been. I was immediately filled with wonder and glee. Here was not only pearl sugar available in "plain" and in colors; rainbow of gel food colorings as well as edible glitter; sacks of flavored pastry fillings, tubs filled with chocolate discs for candy making, an array of candy molds, cookie cutters, and cake pans; wedding cake toppers of various ethnicities; cake and cupcake stands; ready to cut colored fondant; edible cake decorations in every type of flower; dolphin, halloween, and star and moon "jimmies" and...well anything and everything you could ever possibly want to make the dreamiest cakes, cupcakes, cookies and chouquettes.

I restrained myself somewhat. I bought 3 containers of pearl sugar(plain, hot pink, and rainbow).2 gel food colorings (electric blue and regal purple), and 2 cookie cutters (a copper Fleur de Lis and a little bunny).

I left the store smiling feeling that with such a store I could make any type of pastry I could imagine. Once home I set to work confident that soon I would be eating this pastry that had haunted me for a week.

The dough ended up runny, closer to cookie dough. So much so that when I put it on the sheet it spread out. I was nervous, but I had followed the recipe with slavish devotion to detail (unlike my first attempt at flourless chocolate cake, which I screwed up twice, but turned out perfectly). What came out of my oven were essentially big sugar topped chocolate chip cookies. I reviewed the recipe-no error. So I added more flour to the second batch till the dough was stiff. This time the puffs failed to rise at all and didn't even cook through.

So here I am feeling defeated. Sigh. I feel defeated alot lately, which is why I don't write that often. I've even stopped carrying around my writer's notebook. All the news I get these days pretty much sucks so hiding the energy to write is scarce. I direct it now into knitting, which even when I fubar results in a somewhat wearable pair of socks.

So like the chouquettes I fail to rise to the occasion. Still I'm not easily defeated. I've signed up for a class at NYU so I can have a recent recommendation from a Prof since most of my profs from grad either no longer remember me (it was a decade ago) or have retired and don't bother with such things anymore. And Thursday I'm going to try the chouquette again after reading some trouble shooting tips from Smitten.

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