Baking is chemistry. Flour, eggs, butter, etcetera mix together much the same as potassium nitrate, sulfer, potassium chlorate, etcetera. One of these combinations makes yummy cookies while the other is more likely to be used by Al-Qaida operatives than pastry chefs. Luckily, I no longer work in chemistry, otherwise I could of filled my house with bromine gas or a giant BLEVE instead of merely having no dessert to serve to dinner guests.
As I mentioned in previous posts, I am a member of the Daring Kitchen and, as such, must bake whatever they tell me to. For January, I was supposed to make a Biscuit Jaconde Impreme. In a nutshell, it is a very very very thin spongecake with a decorative element that is rolled inside a form to make a nice little tube to fill with custard or pudding or more cake or whatever. Almost like a trifle wrapped with cake instead of glass. It sounded too fancy for my tastes, but I became a Daring Baker to push my own boundaries so I sucked it up, bought the pricier ingredients I needed and started baking.
Actually, I never made it to the baking part. I had to make 2 batters. I made the first, a sponge cake batter, and stuck it in the fridge while i made the second. This one, basically a chocolate paste, wouldn’t come together for all the tea in China. Soooo… while I continued trying to coax the cocoa into a steamy love affair with some eggs, the first batter I made separated and now became as obstinate as the chocolate paste in reassembling itself. Instead of a chocolate paste and a sponge cake, I had one bowl full of the gunk that gets stuck in your car floormats after a hike through the mud and another bowl full of what I can only describe as the kind of yellowy nasty vomit that one only encounters after their drunkenest night in college.
After careful consideration, I decided not to bother trying this one from the beginning again. I had no idea where I could have possibly gone wrong, so I had no idea how to remedy the problem. At least when my lab students accidentally made bromine gas in chemistry class I was able to figure out that they added the wrong acid to their reaction. THAT I could fix, but vomit sponge cake? I had no clue. Plus, I needed more almond flour and I was absolutely not going to pay another $12 for a teeny tiny bag of it just to screw it up again.
So what to make dessert for my dinner guests that night? Fortunately, a rare happening occurred: I actually had a pregnancy craving! I was craving cannoli cream. Thanks to quick and dirty recipes from Giada de Laurentiis and Good Housekeeping, the day was saved. Chocolate Cupcakes with Cannoli Cream frosting sprung from the mixing bowl without a hitch.
I even made some mini-cupcakes to cater to the best food critic I’ve ever had: