Many of you are already painfully aware of the fact that if I were handed a report card for life it would most likely include the comment “Doesn’t Bake Well With Others.” I have, on many an occasion, stayed up until the wee hours of the morning just so I could have the kitchen all to myself.
This stems from two sources: I can’t stand mess, nor can I tolerate interlopers.
There’s nothing worse than going to turn out dough on a counter only to find that there is no counter space available. Nothing, and I do mean nothing, makes my blood boil quite like a series of questions – “are you going to do it THAT way?” “Why don’t you ___” “I saw on Pinterest/Pioneer Woman/Other site that you should ___” “Well my MOM always __” “What about using ___” “Why did you do THAT?” (See also: I LOATHE using a GPS with turn by turn instructions. How many times must you tell me to make the next left? I get it. This is my own damn street, thank you.)
And so I generally prefer to do my work in an empty kitchen without anyone around to make messes, comments, or questions.
As you might guess, holiday baking does not under any circumstances allow for that sort of luxury. And so on more than one occasion this year I lifted my Willy Wonka sanctions and allowed, nay, welcomed guests into my kitchen to bake with me.
My first guest was Jess who weaseled her way in by way of a challenge. Petit Fours, teeny tiny cakes that seem deceptively simple. And they are. But they’re also not quite what you’d expect. She wanted to make them to impress everyone at a company holiday party and naturally since I believe the right baked good can get you into anyone’s heart I was all in.
Our first attempt yielded what seemed to be a disaster. The coating our recipe created wasn’t actually a frosting but a glaze (see the cakes in the back). So we grabbed a royal icing recipe and figured they would just be the backup group – you know, kind of like filler.
Jess and I moved on to the second recipe – pomegranate chocolate beauties that we were absolutely certain would be our showstoppers.
It was about at this point that we began to realize our mistake. For scale, the cake you see below is about as deep as my middle finger.
We could have salvaged that a number of ways (scraping off the frosting, only using a little of the frosting, or using a larger pan for the cake to begin with (which the recipe may have called for but I didn’t own) so the frosting wouldn’t have piled up so high) but all sense and logic escaped us and we ended up trashing it.
Which is how we ended up going back to our back up plan. They sure looked a lot better after our winner didn’t work out and we spent a little time decorating them.
They also tasted pretty wonderful and weren’t too horrendously sweet even with the glaze AND frosting on top.
After our first collaboration worked out so well, I agreed that Jess could come back for a second adventure. I’d like to say I didn’t know what I was agreeing to but I went into our next baking night with my eyes wide open…