When we were kids, my brother was known for his skills in the kitchen. (I should also state for the record that he's an excellent cook to this day.) One of his most-requested items was Eclair Cake. And I think it really says something about the deliciousness of this dessert as well as my brother's talent that people actually requested a cake from a 10-year-old boy. I mean, seriously, how many pre-teens would you trust with your sweet tooth?
As I was thinking back fondly on Johnny's Eclair Cake, I realized how smart my mother was to cultivate this skill. She didn't have to make it herself, meaning her mile-long To-Do list could be completed that much more quickly. Delegate, delegate, delegate.
Also, cooking taught my brother a plethora of useful things. He mastered reading comprehension as he followed a step-by-step recipe, improved his measuring and math skills as he poured the appropriate amount of milk, and learned patience when he waited 24 hours (TWENTY FOUR HOURS!!) for the cake to finish setting up in the fridge. Most importantly, although we've never discussed it, I'd say that cooking gave him confidence. Imagine how great he felt when his pals crowded around the pan of Eclair Cake, clamoring for seconds...and thirds. That's the kind of life skill that you can't pick up in a classroom.
So if you have little ones, consider handing over the reins on this recipe. I think you'll be pleased with the results.
Johnny's Eclair Cake
Softened butter for the pan
About 2 "sleeves" of graham crackers (My standard-sized box had three sleeves in it.)
3.5 cups milk
2 (3.4-ounces each) packages of instant French vanilla pudding
8 ounces Cool Whip
2 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate, melted
2 teaspoons light corn syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 tablespoons butter, softened to room temperature
1.5 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons milk
Butter the bottom of a 9 x 13 pan. Line the bottom of the pan with graham crackers. You'll probably need to break up the graham crackers to fit.
Combine milk and pudding mix in a large bowl. Using a wire whisk or your mixer, beat for 2 minutes. Gently fold in Cool Whip.
Pour half of the pudding mixture over the graham crackers in the pan, then cover with a second layer of graham crackers. Top with the rest of the pudding mixture. Refrigerate for at least two hours before frosting.
To make the frosting, beat together melted chocolate, corn syrup, vanilla extract, butter, powdered sugar, and milk until smooth. Frost the cake right after you make the frosting, as it gets a bit harder to spread as it sets.
Refrigerate the cake for 24 hours before serving. (As tempting as it may be to cut yourself a hefty slice earlier, teach yourself a lesson in patience and wait the full 24 hours! It's just not the same if you eat it too soon. And, yes, I learned this lesson the hard way.)