Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Eclair Cake

Éclair Cake

Dorcas Annette Walker

This week’s recipe is one I discovered at a camp one summer where my husband was the evangelist. I will never forget the first camp meeting my husband preached. Being a preacher’s wife and hosting numerous families during revivals I was always conscious of the workload involved in hosting and usually ended up helping in the kitchen. Between day time duties and handling the music for the evening services by the time a revival would end I was always exhausted. Boosted by my mother’s encouraging words that camp meetings were entirely different than revivals, I traveled to my husband’s first camp meeting with anticipation. The fact that the caretaker and his wife had just moved in and had never been caretakers of a camp before should have clued me in to the fact that I’d be doing more than walking in and out of services on the arm of my husband, even if I didn’t have to worry about the music. As I was starting to unpack my husband informed me that he had offered our help as the caretakers hadn’t had time to get the grounds cleaned for camp. So instead of taking a short nap to revive me after traveling all day, I found myself cleaning ancient cement bathrooms, quickly eating supper, and then unpacking enough to get my family ready for church that evening. The next morning the dining hall was in chaos. The caretaker’s wife was trying to prepare meals (she had never cooked for a crowd before) and take care of a set of twins with no help. My husband volunteered my help so with my twelve-year-old daughter babysitting the set of twins I found myself in the camp kitchen hunting cooking utensils, taking stock of the food supply for the week, and planning menus. Not only did we cook and serve the food, but we had to wash up. Just as I was getting into the sync of revival life on a larger scale I was informed that the lady’s bathroom had run out of toilet paper. The caretaker had all camp supplies under lock and key. The second time I approached the caretaker for more bathroom supplies he handed me the key and gave me the task of stocking both restrooms for the duration of the camp. Midway through camp it was discovered that the other evangelist and his wife had an anniversary. My husband and the camp board thought it would be a nice gesture to honor them with a surprise party. So while the caretaker’s wife hunted up supplies that we could turn into party decorations I baked a large cake and tried to decorate it- my cake decorating kit was back home in another state. Did I mention that at this point the only service I was attending was the evening service? I rounded up a crew of willing helpers (young and old) to help out in the kitchen and was starting to breathe a sigh of relief when I was informed that on the Sunday a band was coming. Nobody knew how large the band was. As I was trying not to panic one by one the ancient toilets in the bathrooms quit working. I am not mechanically minded- I even have trouble sometimes finding the right key to unlock my own household door. I tried jiggling around inside the back of the toilets with no success. I finally ran down the caretaker who looked at me and said, “Well can’t you fix the toilets?” Exasperated I threw up my hands and replied, “I’m sorry, but I’m not a plumber!” I slept the entire trip home. Despite numerous camp meetings since (where I was able to enjoy all the services) I’ve never forgotten my first experience as a camp evangelist wife.

This Éclair Cake dessert has a light creamy filling topped by a rich chocolate icing that will go well with any meal. My Éclair Cake takes about fifteen minutes to prepare and is made a day ahead. For a different twist you can use cinnamon graham crackers instead of honey grahams or mix peanut butter into your pudding. My Éclair Cake recipe serves sixteen.

Éclair Cake

1 box honey grahams
2 boxes of instant vanilla pudding
3½ c cold milk
1 (8 oz) cool whip
Line the bottom of a 9 x 12 baking dish with a layer of graham crackers breaking the cracker as necessary to fit. Mix the pudding mix and milk together and add the cool whip. Layer half of the pudding mixture on top of the graham crackers. Repeat and finish with a layer of grahams.

Mix together:
1 (8 oz) prepared chocolate frosting
½ c peanut butter (your choice)
Spread on top of the grahams, cover, and chill in the refrigerator overnight. Cut and serve the next day!

Weekly tip: If you beat prepared frosting with a mixer on high for a couple of minutes you will get a fluffier icing with more volume!

Dorcas Annette Walker is a published author, syndicated columnist, freelance magazine writer, and photographer from Jamestown, Tennessee. Contact her at: dorcaswalker@twlakes.net For more information check out: www.dorcasannettewalker.com


Faith said...

This looks interesting... but your photo has like 5 or 6 layers of grahams... your recipe instructions mention 3. Did I miss something here?

Dorcas Annette Walker said...

You caught me! You can add more layers of graham crackers, but for a moister pudding-style cake use only three layers like the recipe said. I hope that clears up the confusion. Sorry!