Thursday, June 12, 2008

you miss too much these days if you stop to think

Oh boy. I charged my camera this morning in dizzy anticipation of the slideshow I would have to post of the beautiful cake I had pieced together throughout the week. The idea was so perfect- a chocolate layer cake, but to cut the chocolate, dulce de leche ice cream in the middle. And to top it all off, a helping of caramel cream cheese frosting. Each individual component had come together despite their little issues. I had worried, making ice cream from scratch, that it might not harden properly when frozen. Not so, it set beautifully over the past two days, as I checked it along the way. The cake had its issues. It wasn't very sweet, but that was intentional. I had cut the sugar considerably and added almond meal, and tinkered with the recipe as I always do. But it had come out a little crumbly, and I worried it would be too dry. Not to worry, I made some chocolate ganache, and coated the cakes with it, and it drank in the sauce perfectly and transformed into moist cakes. The cream cheese frosting was just what it ought to be, not too sweet, not too tart, and of the right consistency when chilled to frost a cake properly. Everything was settled.

Except today, everything conspired to go wrong. I blame the ice cream. It was the truly disastrous component. It sat beautifully on the cake for about 60 seconds, and then proceeded to start to melt rapidly. So rapidly that the cake quickly started to slant. I tried to throw it all in the freezer, thought perhaps it needed some time to all freeze together. Not so much. I tried to frost the cake while it was in the freezer. Bigger disaster still.

Finally, it was time to admit defeat. Out went the ice cream layer, into a plastic container. The ice cream would have to go on the side. The chocolate ganache wound up making the middle layer. The cake became more amenable to being frosted. All seemed salvaged. Still, the cream cheese frosting was unhappy about being left out without air conditioning,, and the chocolate ganache started to mingle outside of its middle layer. But I chose to ignore these things temporarily. The cake stayed in the refrigerator until I was ready to leave.

I was walking out the door with everything in hand when, quite without warning, splat! The ice cream container inexplicably shattered. It's made of plastic, people. This was truly bizarre, but now there was a big blob of ice cream sitting on my porch, and a quickly deteriorating carton of ice cream. I stared at it for a second and then rushed back inside. I saved the ice cream I could, put it into a bowl in the freezer, and then looked around bewildered. If one more thing went wrong, I concluded, I'd have to take it as a sign and just call off going to this dinner party altogether.

Luckily nothing else went wrong and I went off to the party, looking every bit as frazzled as I felt. Oh, I had brought some from-scratch empanadas, which distracted the guests from the dessert disaster. In the end, the dessert was fine. The ice cream was still tasty, even if it had turned the consistency of soup. The cake tasted fine, even though the frosting sloppily tilted about this way and that. I was mighty annoyed with it, mostly because it had not come out exactly as I had envisioned it in my mind's eye. Certainly, if I didn't know everyone at the party, I would have felt apprehensive about even serving it. But the good thing about dessert is that you can wait until everyone has had a couple of drinks before offering it up for consumption. At that point, they either no longer want for dessert, or their taste buds have dulled.

At the party, a dude that could have become Abhi and Ashvin's fast friend spent at least 35 minutes explaining to me the physics that explain the show Lost. He was talking about wormholes and apertures, y'all. I told him that I think he gives a bunch of Hollywood writers way too much credit, but he was adamant in his disagreement.

And I came home too late to do what I was supposed to do. And in some ways, all of this was subterfuge from what I was supposed to do. I was supposed to have a conversation, and I didn't have it. I was supposed to go away tomorrow, but I very likely won't. I was supposed to take the harder path, but I chose the easy way instead. I'd tell you it's just that I couldn't bear another defeat today, but I think the overly ambitious cake plan was designed to fail as a perfect distraction.

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