Lemon Poppyseed Cake


When I was little, I used to spend my summers with my grandparents in New York getting spoiled rotten and loving every second of it. My grandmother and I would build our day around chores, cooking and watching soap operas. Our favorite was As the World Turns; we were hooked and made no apologies for it.  Over the summer they brought in teen plot lines, and even though I was nowhere near being a teen, I knew a good tale when I saw it. I never watched during the school year, but when I’d return to New York the following June, there my TV friends would be, almost exactly where I left them, with perhaps a day or two—a week, at best—having passed in their fairy tale lives. Within a day, I would be fully caught up and I’d settle in as though I hadn’t been gone for 9 months. Hopefully you see where this is going (I really hope you do, because my train of thought has gotten derailed a bit as I’ve travelled down memory lane…). I know I haven’t been around and that you’ve all gone on with your lives, but I hope you’ll play a little soap opera time warp game with me and pretend that only a day or two has passed since we last talked food and fun.

So. Where were we? Yes! I was traipsing around the globe, feeling very adventurous and worldly. My last trip before summer was to Ireland for a wedding. Now let’s pause here to say that there is a backstory to me flying to Ireland for 72 hours to go to the wedding of a man I met once (on St. Patrick’s Day!) located in a town that was 7 miles from the edge of nowhere. While that story, in retrospect, is somewhat as fraught with drama and tension as a plot line on The Young and the Restless, to tell it would take us on the kind of detour that we’d need a bottle of Maker’s Mark to navigate, so let’s just get to the food. I found myself in County Westmeath on a misty Friday afternoon at a lovely old mansion overlooking mile after mile of greenery (I was slightly disappointed that there was nary a field of heather, nor could anyone tell me where I could see one, but there you have it). At any rate, the first best surprise of the event was that after the ceremony we were all ushered into a beautiful atrium where they were serving tea and scones! Like in actual tea cups and with bowls of clotted cream and everything. I found this to be the most charming thing I’d ever seen, especially at a wedding, to the point that I made a fool of myself taking pictures of teacups and plates (the good thing about being the only American somewhere is that you always have an excuse for borderline behavior. “Oh, that random girl that none of us know who’s taking pictures of cups? She’s AMERICAN… [wink wink].”).

The second best surprise was the wedding cake. I have come to expect disappointment when it comes to wedding cakes, because they tend to be all looks and no taste.  This seems unfair to all involved since most likely we, as guests, have gone through every minutiae of wedding details with the couple, including the tasting, and then we don’t get anything remotely resembling the deliciousness we were promised (not that I go to weddings for the food. Ahem). Much to my happiness, though, there was a lemon poppyseed cake which, again, upped the charm factor of this wedding. It was a bold move; poppyseeds are not the fan favorite anywhere (I don’t think…?) and with a pound cake consistency, it had the potential to be dense. But, as one of my dinner companions said, the cake was “gorgeous.” I’d never in my life heard someone describe the taste of food as gorgeous before and that–along with the jet lag and Jameson’s–just about knocked me off my chair.

I wanted to recreate that cake long before I even finished eating it, but it took another two months before I got it together to make one for a friend’s birthday. She’d requested a fruit filling, so I found a recipe for a berry compote that I decided I’d put in between the layers of cake and on top. Gorgeous, isn’t it?

Yeah, that’s just about where the gorgeousness ends,unfortunately. While the berries were tasty (it’d never occurred to me to use thyme with fruit), the cake was dry and had so little flavor it was almost a crime against lemon cakes everywhere. I was disappointed, not only because I’d baked it for a friend, but because I’d really wanted to bring that bit of Ireland back with me.  The trip, like the cake, was so unexpected and lovely and just right, that to be able to return to the magic of that time just by whipping up a dessert would have been glorious.  But, the cake didn’t work, literally or figuratively (and I realize that was a lot of pressure on a little baked good (and a hefty dash of wishful thinking), but have you ever found me to not take things to levels previously unknown?).

I recently decided to try again, this time using a recipe I had long before the disastrous one, but completely forgot about.  I added poppyseeds and gambled on using lemon extract, because have you seen the price of lemons lately?  The result was–dare I say it–gorgeous.  It was moist and light and I love the texture that the poppyseeds added.  As a bonus, the lemon extract made it taste fresh with a slight tartness and lemon growers everywhere are going to have to survive without me from now on (and I’ve used bottled lemon juice as a replacement in other recipes and didn’t like the results. You purists out there can send me cash for real lemons, if you want).  I didn’t add the berries this time, since they were out of season, but I’ve included the recipe below because it’s worth trying.

As I put this cake together, I couldn’t be farther from where I was when I bit into that wedding cake in Ireland. I was a little lost then, a little disconnected from myself–nothing was quite working no matter how hard I tried and how true my intentions were. My failed attempt at my friend’s cake was how I’d been feeling for several months presented on a platter.  It’d be unfair to stress out this new lemon poppyseed cake with the pressure I placed on the other one, but I won’t lie, the success of this cake makes me feel like maybe-just-possibly-let’s-keep-our-fingers-crossed I’m back.  The fact that it was a recipe I had tucked away waiting for the right moment makes me think I was never really gone in the first place.  Either way, it’s good to be home….

Lemon Poppyseed Cake (adapted from Barefoot Contessa Parties, by Ina Garten. I used her lemon cake recipe as the base; my notes in red)

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Caramel Apples


Before I got braces, I really really wanted them.  I also wanted glasses and a cast (preferably arm, but I would have made do with a leg).  I’m sure any therapist worth his or her $200 an hour fee would tell you what I really wanted was attention, even in the form of teasing and taunting, but because I went to a school full of nerdy people–even the coolest kids crammed around our old school Apple computers and played Oregon Trail at lunch–having braces and glasses would barely have gotten me noticed.  Unfortunately, thanks to all the carrots I ate, my eyesight was 20/20 (although I did try to fail an eye exam, but took it too far and had a very alarmed school nurse thinking I was legally blind) and I was never adventurous enough to break an arm, but luckily my teeth were a mess.  I’m sure there was a bidding war in the back of the orthodontist’s office to fill my mouth with metal.  I mean, at one point there was talk of breaking my jaw to align my teeth.  So, months before turning 14 I got my wish for braces and they were all I hoped for.

That is, of course, until I was approaching my 16th birthday.  What almost 16 year old wants braces?? I threatened to remove them myself if Dr. G didn’t take them off for me.  I even convinced the man to up the ante in the months leading up to my birthday by removing the wires and giving me a mouth guard to speed up the process (I, of course, did not think of the fact that the mouth guard would prevent me from talking, which I’m sure is why he went for it.  Luckily I only had to wear it while I slept). 

Anyhoo.  The braces came off days before my 16th birthday and the first thing I wanted was a caramel apple.  Obviously they were verboten while I had braces, but even before I’d never been able to eat one right off the stick, because my top and bottom teeth didn’t meet in the middle (you thought I was kidding about how crazy they were, didn’t you??).  I always had to cut them up, which really defeated the purpose.  So, I wanted to bite into a caramel apple and drink sugary drinks and eat Cheetos to my heart’s content.  I was totally foiled though, because my birthday is in July and there was nary a caramel apple to be found.  But I kept my dreams alive and at the first whiff of fall I went in search of caramel to make my own batch of apples.  This is where the shininess of youth starts to color your recollections, because as I remember it all I had to do was melt the caramel, dip my apples in, let them cool and voila! Happiness at my fingertips. 

This go round? Not so much.  First of all, there were no sticks in the bag of caramel like I remember, so I had to schlep to Michaels (usually a happy experience, but I was on a mission) and then it took me forever to actually get them in the apples.  As for the melting of the caramel, I admit that I didn’t follow the package directions completely–I used a double boiler instead of melting it down–but I really don’t remember nearly getting third degree burns while dipping the apples.  Melted caramel is hot, kids! You heard it here first.

In the end, an apple covered in caramel is never a bad thing, no matter the process to get there, so hopefully they’ll make your Halloween to-do list.  As for my teeth, they’ve shifted a bit (I actually went to talk to Dr. G about it last summer and he was SALTY. Like I had done his good work a disservice.  He retired soon after…). I still don’t wear glasses and have no desire for a broken arm or leg any longer.  My need for attention, though, has grown significantly…

Caramel Apples

  • 1 bag Kraft caramels
  • 5 apples
  • lots of patience

We’re going super simple on the recipe today.  Follow the directions on the back of the bag of Kraft caramels.  Don’t be foolish (like me) and try to invent your own.

[…crickets…]


You know how they say that the road to hell is paved with good intentions?  I may as well sign up for a one way ticket to the 7th circle now, because I had the best of intentions this week, kids.  I had all the ingredients to make pineapple strudel! And gumbo! And mint brownies! And dulce de leche! And what am I offering you? Nothing. Nothing at all, because even though I had the ingredients and a lot of time, nothing really spoke to me.  I wasn’t feeling the cutting and stirring and watching and tasting and picture taking.  In fact, I was feeling the opposite of all of that–whatever that is–to the point that I’ve been eating Lean Cuisines and oreos (nice combo, no?)  instead of creating tasty dishes for you to try.

I seriously don’t understand how food bloggers post recipes and pictures every day.  Don’t they get bored? Or overwhelmed? Or totally apathetic (all of which I felt this week)?  Dear lord, how many ways can you find to describe how you chopped a vegetable or melted butter?  And don’t even get me started on the recipes! As I was looking for a way to make pineapple strudel last night (a last attempt to have something to post today; it sounded the easiest), I came upon a pineapple buttermilk ice cream recipe in Joy of Cooking.  Easy enough, I thought.  Just pineapple, egg white, sugar and buttermilk (although I did not have buttermilk, I figured I could make my own–did you know that if you add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar to a cup of regular milk you’d have a buttermilk substitute?).  And boy howdy was I wrong.  After letting the pineapple/sugar/buttermilk mixture freeze a bit, I was supposed to do something called slow freezing or some such nonsense, where I was to stir the mixture every 1/2 hour until it had the consistency of soft serve ice cream.  Who has time for that kind of lunacy (especially since it was already 9pm)? 

At any rate, while I’m full of cooking ideas and ingredients, I’m lacking in the motivation department.  So I’m asking: what keeps you cooking? What gets you excited about being in the kitchen?  What are some of your cooking/baking challenges or goals?

I promise to be back to our regularly scheduled programming in bit.  In the meantime, why don’t you stop by with some real ice cream to go with my oreos?

Devil’s Food Cake


I’m tempted to just give you the recipe and say Happy Wednesday because, sweet baby Buddha, it is hard updating this blog when people are expecting me to do actual work and for some reason telling stories about food doesn’t count.  But since Procrastination and I have started up again, here you go.

This is how it started: I recently met a charming man, Q, who loves cake, frosting and chocolate.  As I’ve come to learn, charming men who like baked goods abound, but I’ve also learned that that does not necessarily mean I should whip out my cookbooks and mixing bowls at the mere mention of red velvet.  Q, however, did tell me about his favorite bakery—and I’d like to pause here to say that he has many admirable attributes, but having a favorite bakery is rather swoon worthy, don’t you think?—and I thought that the vow to hold off on baking for potential suitors would not be broken if I actually purchased a cake.  So I called said bakery in anticipation of Q’s birthday to find out if they could deliver this yellow layer cake with butter cream frosting in the middle and fudge frosting on top that he had described to me.  And they said that for a fee of $40 they thought they could deliver a $13 cake, but they needed to check.  Check on what exactly? Extortion laws in Illinois? I will say that a lovely woman called me back and said that they couldn’t do it but that they’d be happy to do a sheet cake for me, but Q had made it clear in one of our many cake confabs that sheet cakes were not on the list of his favorite things.

So now I had the dilemma of either finding another bakery—a surprisingly hard thing to do in Chicago (another reason I need to win the lottery)—and hoping for the best, or making a cake myself.  And you all know I couldn’t pass this up, right? I mean, come now, who am I kidding?  I tried to rationalize the fact that I was yet again baking for someone well before my granny would approve by saying it was for the sake of the blog. And that I’d never actually made a chocolate cake from scratch, so it would be a fun challenge.  And that I’d post it in February in time for Valentine’s Day.  And…and…and…what it boils down to is that I am a baking slut, as I was called by my friends (?) last week. 

I thought that I would whip up a devil’s food cake and some chocolate frosting and be done with it.  How hard could it be?  And that—that cocky baking attitude—is what had me standing in my kitchen three nights before the actual birthday celebration cursing Mark Bittman (I seriously thought of doing one of those public record searches for his home phone number so I could call and ask him what the *%^(&# he was thinking when he included this terrible sour cream substituting/folding in egg whites/who has time for this crazy? recipe in his “How to Cook Everything [except a chocolate cake]” cookbook) and checking my moral compass on how bad it would be to make a Duncan Hines cake and pass it off as my own (verdict: bad, but not totally unforgiveable). 

I brought my sad little test cake to work and people were kind enough to say it was good, but deep down I knew that it had no chocolate flavor, it was dry and dense and the frosting tasted like spoonfuls of butter followed by a powdered sugar chaser and nothing like actual fudge frosting.  This was the moment where I was met with a fork in the road:  I could give up completely and buy a cake somewhere, because really, the whole point was to give Q a cake on his birthday, not to have me sitting on my kitchen floor rocking back and forth surrounded by cookbooks and melted chocolate.  Or, I could pick a random recipe off the internet, recognize that it may not work, and hope that he fell into the category of people who believe it truly is the thought that counts.  One fork would spell defeat; the other would cause me to have to be adult and rational… Neither particularly appealed to me, but this wouldn’t be much of a story if I went with the store bought.

I decided to play it safe with epicurious.com, because they give Bon Appétit recipes, which haven’t let me down yet.  By this time I’d run out of time to do a test version; I had to just go for it. This was the perfect time for my procrastination to kick in, because I was paralyzed by nerves about starting the cake.  So I organized all of my ingredients on the counter; I rinsed out all of my bowls; I lined up all of my utensils; I read the recipe 20 times so I knew everything step by step; I put on happy, positive music and visualized a perfect cake. 

And guess what?  It worked! No, I really didn’t see that one coming, either.  I mean, by this point I was pretty sure that Failure was going to come stand in my kitchen and laugh at me, but I knew as soon as I took the cakes out of the oven that I had success, because they looked exactly like cakes made from mixes. 

And the frosting! The frosting was the kind of thing that you could just eat a bowl of while watching The Real Housewives of Orange County, because it tasted like a melted dark chocolate bar (my one suggestion here is to not taste too much of it before you finish your cake, because you may not have enough to actually frost the cake. Not that that happened to me.).

So lessons learned: Mark Bittman should not be trusted unless you have time to experiment.  Epicurious.com can save you from any disaster. A homemade cake is much better and says a lot more than a bakery one, even if said bakery is a favorite and the homemade cake is slightly lopsided.  And potential suitors who are still talking about delicious birthday cakes days later are almost as hard to find—and just as essential—as the perfect recipe…

Devil’s Food Cake (courtesy of Bon Appétit/epicurious.com)

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Like Water for Pastry Cream


A few weeks ago my kitchen turned into fruit tart central.  One friend was having a summer party and the next day I was going to a picnic and I’d promised to bring something sweet to both.  I usually love being responsible for dessert but for some reason (perhaps the 100 degree heat and 95% humidity?) I was totally not in the mood to weigh flour and measure sugar.  I thought of phoning it all in—using a mix or buying some ice cream—but my little baker’s pride (plus this little blog) wouldn’t let me.

I’m a firm believer that you shouldn’t do anything that you don’t want to do when it comes to things like this, because you’ll only end up making mistakes and making the whole situation worse than if you had just made some excuse about why you put an Entenmann’s cake on a pretty plate and called it a day.  As I stood stirring pasty cream until I thought my arm would fall off and patching holes in my dough minutes before I needed to leave my house for the party (which was better than what happened to me before the picnic: I was trying to slide the finished tart onto a plate, only to have it crack in half before I could get the whole thing on. I just added more cream and fruit and hoped for the best.), I couldn’t help thinking about that movie Like Water for Chocolate where the woman is so miserable while cooking that she ends up poisoning her sister (not on purpose, but her misery flowed into her food and ruined it).  While I don’t think my baking has any magical powers, I feared my lack of enthusiasm would somehow be evident in every bite.

I was so distracted by just trying to get the tarts done that I was half way through the recipe for the pastry cream before I realized I didn’t have enough eggs. The recipe stressed that you shouldn’t let the egg/sugar mixture stand too long or it would curdle (and I’d already mixed in 2 eggs and the sugar). I was an egg short and had to run down to 7-11 and spend $20 for six eggs (only a slight exaggeration).  I also had neglected to read how much dough the recipe actually made and realized my tart pan was too big for the amount of dough I had, so I had to make a second batch with not enough time left to let it chill properly.  And then I put the dough in the oven, covered in foil as recommended in the recipe and when I went to pull the foil off, also pulled off half of the bottom of the tart shell, hence the having to patch it up with left over dough.  All the time that I’m doing this, I’m trying to figure out a way to weave yellow daisies into my hair for the party (don’t ask) and suddenly realize that I may actually be allergic to the flowers that are now pinned to my head (I wasn’t, luckily).  Normally these things would be merely annoying, but when you are really not feeling the whole baking adventure—and when you have a box of Betty Crocker brownie mix in your pantry—it kind of makes you want to lay down on the floor and forget the whole thing.

To spare you my agony, but give you all the benefits of the beautiful tarts that I eventually created, I will let you learn from my mistakes. 

tart 3

The tart is actually fool-proof (the layer of pastry cream will hide any flaws in the shell) and can be filled with anything you want.  I chose strawberries and blueberries, but I’m guessing any summer fruit would work. 

tart 2

And I did have a lovely time at both the party and picnic, especially since no one was poisoned…

Blueberry and Strawberry Tart (my notes in red)

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Chocolate Chip Cookies


I have a favor to ask: let’s forget that it’s been almost 3 months since this little food blog was updated.  Let’s start clean and fresh and full of hope and promise, ok?

So, several months ago, I met a charming man we’ll call X.  Our first conversation, over dinner with a group of people, centered around food and the things I like to make, wish I could make and know that I’m good at making.  Bread, cakes, pies and cookies fall into all of those categories.  X promptly invited himself to my house to sample my bread, but I was raised to be a lady and taught never to bake for just anyone.  Now, I’m going to pause here to say that I have a hard time not cooking or baking for people I like.  Once I like you, as a friend or otherwise, I want to feed you.  But, I’ve learned to be a little discriminating.  I try not to give up the goodies too soon, just to make sure you actually like me and not my ability to follow a recipe.

X became fixated on me making him chocolate chip cookies.  Many a late night texting session was spent discussing my reasons why I wasn’t going to bake for him immediately, but how it would be worth the wait.  One Saturday evening with nothing to do, I decided I was ready to invite him over to watch me bake and eat cookies straight from the oven.  I texted my invitation.  The response? “Sorry, hanging out with the guys tonight.”  This was likely sign #17 that things weren’t working, but I am not easily discouraged.

Weeks later, after much back and forth between us for myriad reasons, I decided that either I was going to bake for this man now or I never would.  I mean, at some point you have to take the leap of faith and say that while the situation is not perfect, you’ve invested enough time and energy that you need to push the envelope a bit to see if things can go to the next level.  So on the first 85 degree day of the summer, I went to 5 different stores to find brown sugar.  I bought Ghirardelli chocolate chips and sifted flour.  I cranked my oven up to 350 degrees.  I baked 3 batches of cookies so I could pick a baker’s dozen of the most perfect ones.   I put them in a container and carted them off to X, hiding them in the bottom of my bag so the burning sun wouldn’t melt them. 

You know where this story is going, right?

Oh, don’t get me wrong, he said he loved them.  Said they were amazing and awesome and I inferred from his words that my cookies may rate up there with some of the best he’s had.  But not a week went by before he looked me dead in the eye and said, “I never promised you anything” and turned his attention to another girl in the bar (and to be completely fair to X, I am sure that he would tell you a different version of what transpired prior to him saying this, but this is (1/2) my blog, so whatever).

chocolate-chip-cookies2

The recipe is easy and the cookies are impressive, no matter the outcome of your efforts.  Just, you know, hold out for the right person like your mama taught you…

Milk Chocolate Chip Cookies (from Food & Wine, Feb. 2009)

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Talk to me about Italian food…


What I’m about to type is going to cause a stir, I know, because I’ve come to learn that people are passionate about this.  I’m not a fan of Italian food.  Catch your breath and stop cursing me.  Before you question my sanity and unfriend me on facebook, hear me out.  It’s not that I don’t like Italian food, it’s that I wouldn’t go out of my way to eat it.  It’s not my first choice of cuisine when deciding where to go out for dinner, but if it’s chosen for me, I’m ok with it.  I am a lover of cream sauces and slow cooked meats and roasted vegetables and wine reductions and butter and while I feel like I should be able to get all of these things with Italian food, it never seems to live up to what I expect it to taste like and I always end up adding salt and pepper—which is something I rarely do in restaurants—in the hopes of making my mouth as happy as my eyes and nose (because, really? what looks better than a plate of steaming pasta and smells better than sautéed garlic and onions?).  Maybe I have been completely spoiled by French food, but I always feel like something is missing from Italian dishes and whatever that thing is stops me from really enjoying them.  And before you ask, yes, I have been to Italy and yes, I have been to wonderful Italian restaurants in Chicago and New York (and I’ll tell you that the best Italian meal I’ve ever had—especially the meatballs—was in Pittsburgh).  Judge me if you must, but there you have it.

 

Given all of this, I am not sure what would possess me to decide to make lasagna for a couple of friends last week. There are only two things that could remotely pass for Italian that I’ve made in my kitchen: focaccia and pesto, both of which I learned to make in college.  Back then pesto either didn’t come in jars or we couldn’t afford it, but now that Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods have an entire line, there’s really no need to buy a bushel of basil when a pesto craving hits.  Anyhoo.  I got it into my head that I really wanted to make a pesto lasagna for a simple dinner while catching up with friends.  I figured that lasagna would be easy and hearty and the pesto would be a bit of Spring on a cold February night.  Um…yeah.  All I could think about as I debated between no-boil and regular lasagna, realized that I didn’t own a pot large enough to boil an entire package and had to do three different batches, scalded my fingers as I tried to lay out and trim wet hot noodles and squeezed water out of mozzarella balls is that I was right for only eating Stouffer’s lasagna before, because it is hard to make and ungrateful and unrelenting and so not worth it.

 

In the end, it turned out…fine.  All of the flavors were there, the pesto was light and garlic-y, the pasta was cooked to the right consistency, but as we ate, I kept thinking there was something missing; salt? spices? more cheese? I had that same feeling I have in restaurants of not being satisfied with the end result, even though everything looks and smells as though it is going to be divine.  Plus, I went to bed hungry and wishing I’d made Indian food…

 

Pesto Lasagna from Aida Mollenkamp via http://www.foodnetwork.com/ (my tweaks in red) Read more of this post

The Dessert That Wasn’t, Or How We Almost Ended Up Eating Oreos On Thanksgiving


All of the cooking shows on television give me a false sense of actually being able to cook.  I have a habit of thinking that in my own kitchen I can try a recipe once and then can tinker with it and play around with ingredients and it will come out better than the test kitchen version.  I do it all the time, to varying success, and it’s the few times that I actually like what I’ve created that keep me going.

 

This year’s Thanksgiving dessert was not one of those times.  Several months ago, I tried for the first time a recipe from Nigella Lawson for a chocolate pot, or petits pots aux chocolats.  It is a richer version of a chocolate mousse that is ridiculously easy and super delicious—creamy, a little spicy due to the allspice and dense in chocolate flavor, kind of like eating a bowl of the inside of a truffle.  I only made it once, tucked the recipe away for future reference and quickly forgot about it.  Enter Thanksgiving dessert.  My standby pie is a pumpkin pie brulée—basically pumpkin pie with a caramelized sugar topping.  Over the years it has given me enough trouble that I was ready to try something new.  As I was shopping for ingredients, Nigella’s chocolate pots popped into my mind.  Why not substitute the pumpkin for the chocolate? A pumpkin mousse would be the perfect way to finish off a heavy dinner, right? 

 

I followed her recipe exactly, except I used the spices I would normally use for a pumpkin pie—cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice.  I thought, fleetingly, that there may be something that solidified the chocolate version that may be lacking in the pureed pumpkin I was using, but my knowledge of these principles is so limited it’s basically non-existent.  I whipped everything up in the blender, poured it into a serving bowl and put it in the refrigerator overnight.  The next morning, the day before Thanksgiving, I take it out and it hasn’t set.  It is still the liquid that I poured from the blender close to 15 hours earlier.  At that point, I was not only screwed, I was really annoyed.  I had no desire to actually make another pie—I still had stuffing to make—and for the love of all things good, how did I screw up a recipe for mousse that had six ingredients? So I did what any would-be chef would do: I pulled out four different cookbooks and combined recipes for custard, mousse, pastry cream and crème brulée.  You see where this is going, right? I ended up adding two more egg yolks, flour, powdered sugar and corn starch to my liquid pumpkin in a saucepan and whipped it until it had thickened.  In my mind, I would throw it into ramekins when it had cooled, caramelize the top and call it a crème brulée custard. 

 

Yeah, not so much.  The flavors were all there, it tasted like pumpkin pie filling, but two tiny tastes as I poured it into the ramekins hit my stomach like a quarter pounder with cheese. The flour and cornstarch had made it super heavy, exactly the wrong consistency for mousse, custard or crème brulée.  I couldn’t ruin a lovely Thanksgiving dinner with this dessert.  Lucky for me, my previous mishaps in the kitchen have taught me to always have a back up.  In this case, the original chocolate pot.  Not exactly the traditional holiday dessert, but better than Oreos.

 

Chocolate Pot Recipe from Nigella Bites

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