Tuesday, June 27, 2006

102 degrees

I don't like hot weather. I just get lethargic and pissed off.

But I decided to bake chocolate chip cookies. You know, from the recipe on the back of the nestle semi sweet chocolate chip bag.

I took a bunch of photos of the cookies, but then I realized, these are Nestle Toll House cookies, EVERYBODY knows what they look like!

I cleverly whipped up the batter around 8pm and stuck it in the refrigerator until midnight, when the apartment was at a cool 84 degrees. I wanted to make sure that turning on the oven wouldn't melt the kitchen walls, to say nothing of my lightly sauteed brains.

The pleasing thing about baking with refrigerated batter, is that the cookies don't spread out as much so they get crisp on the outside and cakelike in the middle. That's my favorite cookie texture. Don't get me started on soft, chewy (read: paritally raw) cookies. I'm already pissed off because I'm hot, it won't take much for me to throw a tantrum.

I like my cookies to be a little overcooked--not burnt--but a shade darker than golden brown. More sugar has caramelized and they are good that way.

I think that these would be good with a little almond flour substitution. Maybe like, instead of 2.25 cups of flour, 1.25-1.5 cups of flour and 1.0-.75 cups of toasted almond flour. That might rock.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Everything But The Cake

I decided to really keep this blog cake focused which has been hard for me because other things keep coming up that I want to blog about.

So I started another blog. So please go check it out. There's not much there yet, but be patient, young grasshopper.

In other news, I was going to bake yesterday, but I just couldn't bring myself to turn on the oven. Its too hot to do anything. Whine.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Distracted By Strawberries

The Product!

June 18, 2006
Occasion: Fresh Strawberries About To Go Bad
Name of cake: Strawberry Dacquoise Tart
Constituents: three almond dacquoise discs, sliced super ripe (ie almost bad) fresh strawberries, white chocolate “sauce”

The strawberries were super ripe. Like, going to go bad, super ripe. I had to do something with them.

The Strawberries!

I thought about the bar of white chocolate I had brought upstairs to munch on with tea.

I thought of the dacquoise dessert my roommate and I almost had last night. And I thought of Pavlovas, and the fresh berry meringue tart recipe I had discovered lurking in The Book.

And so I dug out my frozen egg white stash and started to defrost them. I sliced up the super juicy, sweet strawberries and set them aside in a bowl. I pulled out The Book and searched for ideas.

The Recipe!

For the dacquoise, I used the almond meal you can buy at Trader Joe’s and toasted it over the stove in a pan.

I ignored RLB’s warnings about using superfine sugar to get nice and light dacquoise and used baker’s sugar instead.

I left the egg whites in the pan too long and they began to cook. I strained out the cooked chunks and separated another egg to get the proper weight. Leave it to me to mess up a recipe somehow, no matter how easy it might be.

I piped out the dacquoise discs, plus a bunch of extra pieces, and put them into the oven to bake.

I watched a little “Pride and Prejudice” (the BBC version with Colin Firth—mmm) and pulled the dacquoise about an hour or so later.

I melted the white chocolate bar in a double boiler with the last of our heavy cream (maybe ¼ cup at most) and a couple of tbsp of half and half.

I didn’t wait until the dacquoise were fully dried before assembling dessert. One layer dacquoise, a bunch of berries, and a pour of white chocolate sauce. Three stories high.

The Product!  From Another Angle!

Got excited about the thing, and then drowned it in the rest of the chocolate sauce.

Took a lot of pictures of the thing and ate a piece or two with my roommate. She says, "its like strawberry shortcake but better." The dacquoise got all soft from the white chocolate, but there's still a crunch because of the nuts. Also, the savory toasted nuts balance out the sweet of the chocolate. The strawberries are the star ingredient here, all ripe and juicy and bright and summery. There's a bit too much white chocolate, but its not too sweet either. It is kind of like an upscale strawberry shortcake.

A Piece of the Product!  It Was Good!

We watched Mr. Darcy propose to Miss Bennett and get thoroughly rejected, and yelled at to boot. If Mr. Darcy were eating this thing at that moment, he might not have minded so much when she called him arrogant and told him of his selfish disdain for the feelings of others. He might have replied (mouth full), "yes, but pray tell me, who makes such a delightful dessert? Miss Bennett, have you tried this thing? It is most satisfying. Oh, were you saying something? Forgive me, I was distracted by the strawberries."

Thursday, June 15, 2006

A Not About Cake Post

We all need funny things in our life.

Like this.

You must read! It is a valuable life lesson, boys and girls!

Thanks Voix.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

I Love Foreign Languages

Wow! I was checking out the sitemeter to see who's been coming around my blog, and somebody from Libyan Arab Jamahiriya checked out my blog today. This person had googled "microbiological of cake filled cream" which in and of itself is kinda....funky.

But the real reason why I even mention it is this. It's my blog, poorly translated into Arabic! That is C O O L.

So of course, I decide to use babelfish to translate my blog into Russian. For those of you who don't know, I was a Russian major waaaaay back in undergrad. I have forgotten SO MUCH Russian since then, as I decided I didn't want to be a translator/interpreter like I thought I did, and so my blog translated into Russian delights me very much, but I can't really read it critically (but yes, I CAN read cyrillic) and say whether or not the translation is any good. (But we can assume it is a poor translation.)

Whew. That was one long, run-on, poorly constructed sentence.

(6/15) I CAN say that the title of my post is incorrect. It should say (in cryllic), "Vot On." What they have is a literal translation (of course--it is a web translator, not a person). No wonder it looked wierd to me. See, I'm still smart.

Anyway, I am now going to have fun translating my blog into many different languages, as I love languages, and I really loved being almost fluent in Russian ten years ago.

I could talk smack about most people around me and they never knew.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Here It Is

Well folks, I had a great vacation hiding in my cake cave and I am finally ready to come out of hibernation. Here's the post for my birthday cakes.

I only had one small moment of extreme displeasure that exploded into a small tantrum.

My roommate, who was present for the Zetta tantrum of 2004 agrees that this tantrum was only a small one in comparison. I can't believe I'm admitting that I throw tantrums when cakes don't come out right.

Of course, everybody who ate the cakes told me they liked them, and some even had seconds. People were nice enough to tell me they liked the look of Cake Two, even though it looked like complete crap. This is a testament to how much my friends must like me. Or maybe its a testament to how dearly my friends wish to avoid my tantrums. Hmm. That would change things.

Birthday Cake(s)
pay no attention to the cake in the back

May 27, 2006
Occasion: duh
Name of cake: A Better Ice Cream Cake
Cake One:
one genoise classique, split with Grand Marnier syrup
layered with Gold Medal Ribbon Ice Cream
frosted with white chocolate ganache
Cake Two:
one moist chocolate genoise, split with chambord syrup
filled with Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream
glazed in chocolate cream glaze

(5/26) Well here’s the things I wish I had done:
1. gotten the dry ice yesterday
2. so that i could have split and syruped the cakes yesterday and stuck in the cooler to freeze
3. and then i could have at least filled one of the cakes yesterday
4. so i wouldn’t have so much to do tomorrow
5. not left the GMR on the counter to soften, because our freezer keeps ice cream in a softened state anyway.
6. and then when i realized that the sides were ice cream soup, not have tried to stir it up thinking that would make it more solid when really it just made the whole ice cream tub chocolate with a caramel swirl (it was chocolate and vanilla swirled with ribbons of caramel).

I also forgot to buy chambord. So I am thinking…rum? But tomorrow I could go buy a little chambord. I only need 3 tbsp. Really, people.

Genoise are light little cakes. I don’t think my genoise classique rose as much as it should have, but of course I messed up when putting it together. I forgot to add the sugar to the eggs when heating and beating, and it was only after I had tripled the eggs in volume that I realized I totally messed up. So I added the sugar and put it back over the heat until lukewarm and then beat them up again for 5 minutes. Do eggs get tired? Can they get overbeaten? They can, can’t they?

Birthday Cake

I used my little plastic squirt tube bottle thingy to apply the syrup to the cakes and that was sooo much easier than trying to brush it on! Yay!

Birthday Cake

Also, used my brand new rotating cake stand tonight when cutting off the top and bottom layers of the cake and splitting in two and it rocked. It made all those tasks super easy. Thanks, Jellos.

I wish I had one of those expanding flan rings tonight for when I smeared ice cream all over the cake. I had the usual ¼ gap between the cake and the springform pan, so I know I got ice cream all down the side. Not sure what to do about that.

(6/13) Apparently, I was so overwhelmed by the cakes that I needed to take a two week break.

So, Cake One:
The genoise split like a good kid. I syruped the guy, put it back in the springform pan, and put the whole thing under dry ice in the cooler for 20 min. I smeared/packed on the ice cream (the whole gallon) and placed the second cake layer on top and back it went under the ice in the cooler. Then I realized that I have only one 9 in springform pan and that I couldn’t really do the same thing with cake two…so what to do. I decided to wait until Cake One was frozen solid and then take it out of the pan. This took overnight.

Birthday Cake
There's cake under that mess

So, the day of my birthday, instead of going out and picking peonies or seeing a movie or going to the sauna, I spent the day finishing up my cakes. Exactly what I didn’t want to do. Isn’t that why I started them early? Hmpf.

So, on my birthday, I first off decided to frost Cake One and then get it in its box so I could use the springform to put together Cake Two.

Birthday Cake

The white chocolate ganache is really whipped cream with melted white chocolate added, which stabilses the whipped cream, lightly sweetens it, makes it okay to freeze, and gives it a little tang. I used Green and Black’s white chocolate, which is really good stuff. The resulting white chocolate ganache was beautiful and perfectly sweetened. I frosted the cake and put it in its box and back under the dry ice. Cake One: complete.

Cake One

Cake Two: here there be problems.
I decided to have one fat cake layer on the bottom and the mint chocolate chip ice cream as the second fat cake layer. That part went together smoothly, I put the cake under the ice to wait until it was hard as a rock (which should have been overnight) and after a couple of hours realized I needed to get my ass in gear as I was going to be late for my own birthday party. Like usual. So I tried to be really present and patient when melting the chocolate and cream over the double boiler but I guess I failed because the chocolate separated AGAIN. I was at a total loss. I don’t know. Maybe there is more fat in the cream I use. Looking back there is a higher % of cocoa butter in the chocolate I used, so maybe the combination of the two just sent the mixture into high fat overload and that’s why all the oil separated from the solids. I even stuck it in the cuisinart to hopefully get it to emulsify again but no luck. Probably cooling it down, then slowly reheating it might have done the trick. But, I had left myself no time for such shenanigans.

This is EXACTLY why I don’t like leaving cake assemblage for the day of the party.

So I thought, maybe if I just get the shit on the cake as fast as I can, I can get it to solidify before it can totally separate. Well, I dumped the lumpy mass on the cake, and tried to get it to spread over the top and glaze the sides. Instead it sort of clumped around, glopped down the sides, and began melting the ice cream. So I quickly shoved the cake mess into its box and stuck it under the ice. As an excuse to get away from me and my (small!) tantrum, my roommate left the house to buy hot fudge.

Birthday Cake

I took a shower.

And went to my party.

Dry ice makes things REALLY hard. I could have let the cakes defrost for two hours at room temperature and they would have been at a nice and softened state. But I didn’t. So we have pictures of me sawing through these rock hard frozen cakes with a little steak knife the restaurant gave me. A friend of mine tried to help and actually broke the knife off inside Cake One. That part was funny.

Birthday Cake
I SWEAR it took 20 minutes to get the first piece cut.

So that night I didn’t think the cakes tasted like much of anything but hard cold stuff. People were nice and told me that they tasted good.

Birthday Cake
Frozen solid, solid, solid.

The next day I let a piece of each cake soften and I tried them again. Much better. However, the cakes didn’t hold a ton of flavor, nor could you discern the liquor that each was syruped in. But the white chocolate ganache froze beautifully (unlike regular whipped cream) and actually tasted pretty good.

So, oh well.

Next year, I'm hiring someone else to do my cakes!

Friday, June 09, 2006

APB for the ECL

It has come to our attention that the "Eat My Cake" blog has been relatively unattended to in the last two weeks. While we assure you that there's probably nothing wrong, reports have comfirmed that the ECL seems to have disappeared. We have put out a general APB in the blogosphere, as well as at mugglenet.com for her whereabouts. We suspect she is just recovering from all that cake, microbiology, and whatnot she accrued in the last month. Until the ECL or her spokeperson is found, and can hold a press conference, we can neither confirm nor deny anything that has been said in this document. No questions will be taken at this time. Thank you.
On behalf of the ECL,
Those In Charge.