Why Eclairs Are So Important To Rachael Ray

If you've ever watched an episode of "Chopped" — or any cooking competition for that matter — you've likely noticed a pattern with chefs and desserts: They want absolutely nothing to do with them. Sure, many are able to pull off at least one sweet treat (thanks to diligently practicing the recipe ahead of the competition), but more often than not, you'll hear a note of fear in their voices as they describe their pastry endeavor, which might be accompanied with a little bit of complaining about that side of the culinary world, as well.

The absence of pastry skills doesn't elude the most notable chefs, either. Bobby Flay, for example, admits that he can't seem to nail the recipe for one baked good in particular, though his pal Giada de Laurentiis suggests that almost any type of dessert can secure you a win when battling the chef on "Beat Bobby Flay." Rachael Ray is another member of the "I Hate Baking" club, citing her distaste for sweets and lack of expertise as reasons in her 2019 cookbook "Rachael Ray 50: Memories and Meals From a Sweet and Savory Life" (via CheatSheet). The television personality even swore off baking for years following a few attempts at the practice that ended in disaster — though there is one extra-special treat that reeled her back in.

Rachael Ray's mother uses eclairs to de-stress

Unlike many of us, Rachael Ray is not a big fan of sweets (though she did once reveal to her eponymous magazine that she loves chocolate fondue). This, coupled with a few baking experiences gone wrong, caused the chef to stick to the savory side of cooking for years until she decided to give baking another try — with eclairs being one of the first treats on the docket. "I'm not a baker, but if you can make a pâte à choux...you can make eclairs," she explained in her cookbook, "Rachael Ray 50," before also noting that she no longer needs to measure things out when making them because they are so easy (via CheatSheet).

However, the treat's uncomplicated recipe is only one reason that she how to learned to whip them up. The other? Her mom, whom she said uses eclairs as a "stress management tool." The talk show host noted in her cookbook that, as a child, she and her siblings knew that their mom was upset when she brought the pastries home. "You could tell how bad whatever the thing we did was based on how large the box from the bakery was," she said on an episode of Milk Street Radio.

Now grown, Ray likes to be a source of relief for her mother rather than the problem. "I love knowing that if Mom is sad or mad, I have a way to make her happy again," she wrote in her book. "Just make her eclairs."