It’s taken me awhile, but this is the second-to-last post in my Project Wedding Dessert Bar Series. Did I mention this recipe is for a surprise cake? For THE cake-to-end-all-cakes (at least in Jay’s book)?
Jay loves chocolate cake with chocolate frosting, as it was present at all his childhood birthdays and celebrations. Somehow I baked, chilled, frosted, hid, and transported it without Jay finding out, even though he tried to ruin the surprise – TWICE.
First, after driving back from a morning client meeting, he came up to our apartment to check in on me and my dessert bar baking shenanigans instead of dropping the car in the garage and going straight to work like he usually does.
Photo by Dana Hargitay of enLuce Photography
Then, when my mom and sister Cassie helped me transport the desserts to the venue a day before the wedding, he took an early lunch break – without giving me advance notice – and walked over the venue to help us unload everything. Thank goodness the cake was on a covered stand and Cassie had a jacket to throw over the top of it. While we unloaded everything else, we hid the cake on the passenger side floor of the car. When we dropped everything off in the venue director’s office, I awkwardly hesitated to leave, even though she had another bride and groom in her office. The look on my face must have indicated I was on the verge of a meltdown (I wasn’t; worst case, the surprise would be ruined, which would not be the end of the world but hopefully would be avoided); she immediately came up and gave me a concerned look and a hug. I whispered that there was one more load coming up, then ran down the hall to catch up before Jay noticed. But how would my mom and Cassie get the cake upstairs without Jay noticing?? (more…)
The night before the night before my wedding, my not-so-reliable pal Sleep totally ditched me. After several hours of anxious waiting, ceiling-staring and clock-cursing, I finally gave up.
So at 3 a.m., I rolled out of bed to start crushing graham crackers for the 12 dozen s’mores brownies I intended to bake in the three different sizes of cupcake liners I had accumulated but not used over the past couple years.
I broke up the graham crackers by hand, and didn’t stop until the entire box of ’em was crushed.
After all the smashing, I felt more relaxed, and my renewed attempt at sleep proved successful. Thank goodness. Two days before your own wedding and the thousands of photos that will be snapped of you is not the ideal time to not be sleeping.
The next morning, Jay and I jaunted over to Hayes Valley for our Blue Bottle coffee fix, and wandered into Moishe’s Pippic in search of breakfast. I sought something hearty, anticipating that I would be standing on my feet all day while baking, and went with the corned beef sandwich.
Yes, sandwich. Full of meat. With a pickle! For breakfast.
I’m a corned beef nut to begin with, but Moishe’s corned beef was so incredibly tender, moist and flavorful. And not too salty. I remember thinking at the time that this corned beef sandwich was so entirely worth having to pull out the Spanx to fit into my wedding dress. (By some miracle, Spanx weren’t necessary. But I was willing to go there for this particular sandwich.) (more…)
It’s time for some more wedding dessert bar preparation. This time around, instead of baking, there will be candy-making.
[Queue the oooohs and aahhhs.]
Waiting … waiting … AHEM! … any minute now … What’s that? You already know how to make fudge? Fine. But won’t you be sad if you miss out on the quirky commentary, and additional tips and observations – like the fact that fudge freezes well for 3 months if tightly wrapped? Thought so.
Now that we’ve settled that … first, clean up that kitchen, little piggy! (I really let things go this week. Just wasn’t feeling the whole sponge-and-soap thing. Or even the at-least-soak-things-in-water thing. Pretty much a total mess all around. Good thing I didn’t get a good shot of the sink’s contents, much less the rest of the apartment.)
Now that I’ve cleaned everything up (mostly), it’s time to pull all the ingredients out and clutter the counter again. I’ve said it before and will repeat it every time I share a candy recipe, but you know that whole mis en place concept you hear all over cooking shows that normally is helpful but not entirely necessary? Yeah, it’s actually essential when making fudge or any other type of candy. Candy cooks up fast, especially towards the end when time is of the essence.
So open those bags and containers, and measure out those ingredients to lessen the chances of burnt candy tragedies. Seriously. I’ve done it. Multiple times. First world problem, perhaps, but I still cried.
Couscous: the food so nice, they named it twice! So I can only imagine how many times over they might have named it had they added a little cocoa powder. For those I almost lost on that cocoa powder suggestion, don’t worry – the cocoa flavor is on the back end , not up-front, in-your-face chocolate like these.
Rather, a bite tastes something like this: the tart-yet-sweetness of cherries, followed by a hint of bright citrus from the orange zest, balanced against the delicate buttery-nutty flavor of pistachios, and finally the subtle yet discernibly nutty chocolateyness of unsweetened cocoa-powder flavoring the couscous.
Beyond the interesting and delicious flavors involved, this dish has an amazing texture – from the chewiness of the cherries to the crunch of pistachios, to the spongy grains of couscous. (more…)