I don't remember when I first read Peppermints in the Parlor (I always, always want to throw a 'u' in there!), but it zoomed to the top of the list for a while, as it has mystery and intrigue sprinkled throughout the story.
Emily's just been orphaned and is going to live with her Aunt Twice at Sugar Hill Hall, an event that excites her. But when she arrives, her aunt is acting mysteriously and the Hall doesn't look as Emily remembered. Once inside, she meets Mrs. Meeching and Mrs. Plumly, heads of the old folks' home that the Hall has been turned into, and things are very drab and colorless. Emily is determined to find out what really is going on and wants to find her Uncle Twice (who has disappeared), as she knows he could answer all the questions that are piling up in her mind.
Through the course of the story, Emily is drawn into the confidences of Mrs. Plumly, who invites the poor girl into her private rooms for tea. There she has things like cherry cream tarts, lemon tarts and chocolate cream eclairs.
I have wanted to make eclairs for a long time, and was thrilled to pull out my cookie press and find a recipe included in the booklet! I decided to make small eclairs, which is a little more fitting for a tea.
½ c butter
1 c water
1 cup flour
¼ t salt
1. In a saucepan, combine butter and water; bring to a vigorous boil.
2. Reduce heat to low; add flour and salt which have been sifted together. Stir vigorously until mixture leaves sides of pan and forms a stiff ball. Remove from heat.
3. Add eggs one at a time, beating hard after each addition.
4. Use tip 32. Fill MIRRO press.
5. Holding press in a semi-horizontal position, form eclairs 1" wide, 4" long and 2" apart on greased MIRRO cookie sheet. Bake: 450º for 15 minutes and then 325º for 20 minutes.
4. Remove at once to cooling racks.
5. When eclairs are cool, cut in half lengthwise and fill with custard filling. Frosting with Chocolate Frosting.
Yield: 1 dozen large eclairs
2/3 c sugar
6 T cornstarch
¼ t salt
1 c cold milk
3 c scalded milk
4 egg yolks, beaten
¼ c milk
1 t vanilla
1. In MIRRO double boiler or combination pan, thoroughly mix sugar, cornstarch and salt. Blend in cold milk.
2. Gradually stir in scalded milk.
3. Cook over hot water until thick, stirring constantly.
4. Cover; cook 10-12 minutes.
5. Combine egg yolks and ¼ c milk. Stir some of the hot mixture into yolk mixture, then stir back into the custard.
6. Remove from heat; add vanilla. Cool.
1/3 c butter, melted
1½ oz unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled
1 t vanilla
1½ c confectioners' sugar
1. Beat egg. Blend in butter, chocolate and vanilla.
2. Beat in sugar until smooth.
Now I really want to do another tea...
Book recommendation: Peppermints in the Parlor by Barbara Brooks Wallace
Recipe recommendation: Eclairs
Game recommendation: Plants vs. Zombies