Friday, October 19, 2012
Adventures in Baking
It's Fall Frenzy time again so I spent most of the day creating these little darlings. Mini pumpkin Jack-O'-Lantern tarts from Martha's newest pie book and two devil's food graveyard cakes with chocolate mousse frosting from good old Joy.
The pumpkin pie recipe asked for evaporated milk and not having any on the shelf, I sat down next to stove to simmer 2 and 1/4 cups of milk down to one. Took over half an hour of constant stirring; next time I'll just go to the damn store.
I used pate sucree for the dough - it has more sugar than regular pie crust, yum, but makes the dough softer and a little more challenging to work with. Martha sez cut six inch rounds to fit in the tartlet pans - I just used muffin tins - but I discovered you need to take out big 1/4 cut of the circle to fit into the pan. Just wet the edges of the cut and press them together before you fit the little cup of dough into the tin.
The cakes were baked in the two small cake pans that I bought at the Ferry Building when we were in San Fran this summer - they makes treats that are a perfect size for a small family. Four cute pieces.
Tons of frosting recipes in The Joy of Cooking and few of them are easy - except for the quick butter and powdered sugar ones that make my teeth ache with the sweet. But I had the time so I made this crazy egg-yolk chocolate mousse that required constant stirring (again with the stove stir duty) over barely simmering water until the mixture reached 160 degrees with an instant-read thermometer. Say what again? A bit of a pain the ass, trying to stir with one hand and hold the thermometer with the other. And then during the next step (I don't read the recipes ahead of time so complications can be fun, ha ha), I was using the hand mixer with the bowl in an ice bath when the phone rang and I accidentally splashed ice water into the icing that was already too drippy by half.
F word, F word.
"Hello?" It was the vet making a follow up call to check on Little Prince. Aw, how can you stay stressed over some drips when someone cares about your rodent?
I fixed the watery icing by whipping in a big dollop of butter (Butter fixes everything! Time is flying!) and jumped on my bike to get the girls at school. They helped with the final decorations - a Peeps ghost, Milano cookie-headstones with RIP in black frosting from a tube, tiny strips of fruit roll-ups for grass and crumbled gingersnaps for the overturned earth on the graves. Spooky fun!