dude fude, food, mommies, recipes, Uncategorized

The Big Cake

Tiara Cake

I like to use birthdays as an excuse to make a new cake. Or make an tried and true cake that challenges my decorating abilities. Thus, the Tiara Cake came to be. It’s in honor of M’s 5th birthday, which is today.

Having a child turn 5 is one of those milestones, where you say to yourself, “Five years have already passed! I can’t believe it’s already been 5 years.”  And 5 is big, because your child is playing iphone games, has decided to be an astronaut, and uses the word awesome. You may have even seen a glimpse of the teenage years to come and the accompanying fashion and attitude, and yet, you still have a little girl who likes her princesses.

And so, in honor of the occasion (and for the party), we decided that the cake would not be shaped like a tiara itself but have a tiara (image) on it. (I wasn’t about to start drawing Ariel herself, in frosting). A tiara, which M will likely be wearing today, seems a solid symbol of both princesshood and birthdayness, and it’s not too complicated to represent in sugar products. It had to pink, of course, although I started out thinking it would be silver, only to find that frosting doesn’t come in silver, not at any local store anyway. M had also requested that I write, I love you and put some hearts on the cake.

For her party, we are also having a pinata, which has all six princesses (I guess Repunzel hasn’t made it into the hallowed center six for good yet) hanging out at their castle. I am expecting that by next year the princess interest will have waned, and we’ll be onto something else. I think we’ll be ready.

The cake is devil’s food cake with white chocolate chunks (again, for surprise) and a cream cheese lemon frosting.

The frosting is easy and reliable and delicious:

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces, softened

8 ounces cream cheese cut into 4 pieces, softened

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest

1 1/4 cups confectioner’s sugar

I mix up the first two in the kitchen aid, add the second two, sift in the sugar. Mix but not too much. And it keeps in the fridge for week.

I’ll post the cake recipe if it turns out to be very delicious. Now, I’m just hoping my fairy godmother prevents it from raining…

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dude fude, food, Uncategorized

On being irresistible…

As a kid, chocolate chip mint ice cream was my favorite flavor.  In this, I was not  alone.  However, I was alone in thinking chocolate chip mint pares perfectly with caramel, and pare it I did, when I had the opportunity to have an ice cream sunday which was usually once a year with my grandparents, on the way to the Berkshires from New York City.

Askew glances from waitresses aside, I stuck to my guns.  Glowing accounts of fudge sauce could not dissuade me.  Nor could the sight of the stuff itself. I always preferred the golden tendrils off caramel cooling against soft minty mounds.

Many years later, I unsuccessfully pitched the idea to Ben and Jerry’s during a nationwide ice cream flavor contest.  I forget which flavor won that year.

And so it has come to pass that I, on occasion, make my own ice cream.  I try not to make it too much because it is so delicious.

But with a small but significant peppermint bush growing in my garden, and an excess of cream in my fridge, I decided to make some.  The only sugar I had in the house was brown sugar and I decided to use it.

And so it was that I found myself back to the minty caramel marriage of my youth.  Not quite caramel, but just an absolutely addictive undercurrent of caramel taste.  Teasing in that way, so that you must take another bite just to make sure it’s really there. And another.  Combined with the freshest, brightest mint (from garden to pot in 10 minutes), it’s a real delight.

Butter Mint Chip

Adapted from Elise’s Chocolate Chip Mint Ice Cream (she’s got pictures and step by step making instructions)

Here’s my version:

Put lots (2-3 cups) of mint leaves in a pot with 1 cup of whole milk and 1 cup of cream.  Heat until just boiling, cover, turn off heat and let sit for 30 minutes.  Repeat, but you can let it sit for less time.  Strain out leaves, mashing milk out of them and put back mixture back into the pot.

Mix in 1/2 cup of brown sugar and a pinch of salt until dissolved.

Pour 1/3 or so of the milk mixture into 4 egg yolks, stirring constantly (you don’t want to scramble the eggs).  Then pour the egg/milk mixture back in pot on the stove, turn up the heat to medium, stir constantly and make a custard.  It’s done when the mixture thickly coats the back of a wooden spoon.  Don’t let it boil.

Strain into 1 cup of cream.  Let cool.  Sometimes I do this overnight.   Sometimes I put this mixture in a bowl surrounded by ice first.

Once it’s cold, put into ice cream maker.  I add a little bit of alcohol or vanilla, and chopped up chocolate. I like it chopped finely.  I actually chop the chocolate first and put it in the freeze prior to the whole process.

After it comes out of the ice cream maker, it’s this beautifully soft and creamy ambrosia.  You can eat it now.  Or,  if you put it in a container and let it freeze, it will harden a lot.  Both forms are irresistible.  It’s food that brings on the quiet and completely focussed concentration of my four year old.  Bliss.

Update:

I have now made a chocolate ice cream with chocolate hunks and caramelized pecans and a Meyer lemon with slivers of dark chocolate.  Uh… both delicious.  It’s kind of ridiculous how good this stuff–too good. And so now, left with a huge number of egg whites left over I forge into new egg white-related domains…

yum
Meyer Lemon with chocolate
into the freezer
Uncategorized

Remember when I said…

“Money can’t buy happiness, as everyone knows…” I quote myself here, when I wrote recently about my experience eating at Gary Danko. At the time I wrote it I thought to myself, I’m so tired of this tired old saying, but I have to say it because it’s taken as social scientific fact. I didn’t know from where (Easterlin paradox–now I do) but it really has become tiresome even if it’s true. But hold on people, there is some evidence to the contrary. Very interesting.

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