Tales From the Kitchen

Yesterday was a dark day in my baking history.  It started out quite well.  I got up in time, went to the gym, and was back by 9 AM to start working.  We had a full day planned.  On our “To Bake” list, were one double New York Cheesecake, one double Lemon Cheesecake with Lemon Curd topping, and two double Fudge Brownies.  On top of this, we had planned to answer questions for a magazine article, make Frosting mixes, and Mocha cupcake mixes.  All of this still seemed doable at 9 o’clock in the morning…

For starters, I now fully appreciate the contribution we have made to the baking world with our mixes!  Not to toot my own horn, but boy do they save a lot of time and trouble!  We had to make everything from scratch, and the time it took to dig all of the equipment and ingredients out of the cupboards, print the recipes, weigh and measure everything, and clean up the mess four times was well worth the price of one of our mixes!  Anyway, I don’t know if it was my lousy horoscope, PMS, or something in the air, but things only got worse as the morning progressed.

My cup of latte hadn’t fully kicked in yet, so I decided we should start out with the easiest thing: brownies.  I made the mix and prepped the pan while Brigitte melted the butter and cut up the cream cheese.  We double-checked all of the ingredients to be sure, finished making the batter, and popped them in the oven.  High five!  What teamwork!  Twenty minutes later I peeked into the oven to see how they were doing.  Something was wrong.  They looked so strange – sort of curdled, with chocolate islands floating in a sea of melted chocolate butter.  Hmmm… I couldn’t bear the thought of starting all over again after we’d already cleaned up, put everything away, and started on the first cheesecake, so I decided to give it another fifteen minutes.  This didn’t help.  I gave up and took them out of the oven.  What the @#%&@#%????!!!!  And then I saw it.  The answer was right there on the counter for all to see:  one full carton of eggs.  We forgot to add the eggs!

Next, we very carefully made the New York Cheesecake – and this is where I started to suspect my horoscope.  I think I may have mentioned how deplorable the oven is in my new house.  Well, today, it outdid itself.  When I first checked on the cheesecake, it seemed fine, albeit a little too puffy around the edges for my liking.  A few minutes later, I looked again.  This time it was covered in giant puffed up bubbles!  I was horror-stricken!  I quickly removed it and asked Brigitte to run to the store for some crème fraiche.  By the time she returned, the cheesecake had flattened out again, but it wasn’t pretty.  I made a topping and put it back in the oven for 10 minutes.  Saved!

By this time, we were thinking we might be better off using Brigitte’s oven, but we decided against it.  The thought of lugging half of the contents of my kitchen to her house was just not appealing.  While Brigitte took our dogs for a walk in the woods (oh yes, we have to do that as well), I cleaned up, made some brownie mix, and prepared the lemon cheesecake.  I had lowered the oven temperature and was hoping for the best.  Whatever the result, I was confident the lemon curd would hide any imperfections.  I was happily whisking this concoction when Brigitte returned.  The oven timer went off, so she took care of the cheesecake while I strained the curd.  Such teamwork!  Such efficiency!  I was halfway through pouring the lemon curd over the cheesecake when my blood froze.  I had forgotten the final step in the recipe – the butter!  Aaaaaagh!  Well, it looks fine and it tastes fine – I just don’t know if it’s going to set…

I was starting too lose confidence in my cooking abilities!  Brigitte sent me out into the garden to clear my head and smoke a cigarette while she made us some lunch.  Afterwards, I made a new batch of brownies.  There was only one problem.  I had decided to use a different brownie recipe – one that requires you to mix the sugar into the melted butter and chocolate before you mix in the rest of the dry ingredients!  I had already mixed everything together.  I couldn’t take it anymore!  I just decided to make them anyway and hope for the best.  Half-way through pouring the batter into the baking pan, I also realized I had used two eggs instead of three!  I scraped it out and quickly added it.  Completely fed up with baking, I put the pan into the oven and resigned myself to fate. The brownies seemed fine, although they didn’t really look the way they’re supposed to.  You can see the spots where the sugar melted while they were baking.  “Polka Dot Brownies” – yes, that’s what we’ll call them!

As you may imagine, I didn’t think it was a good idea to go make mixes after that.  I was jinxed!  On the bright side, the first brownies we baked actually taste pretty good – sort of like chocolate caramel.  The kids thought we should sell that as a mix as well.  But don’t worry, we won’t be adding “Messed-Up Brownies” to our product line any time soon!



Let them eat cake!

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