Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Contrary to Popular Belief

Thanksgiving is traditionally celebrated at my sister's house.  We are blessed to have many of our family members within a short driving distance, so it is not uncommon to have 20-30 assorted family and friends get together for the holidays.  She does Thanksgiving and I do Christmas.  Creating (and eating) desserts is a passion of mine, so I have been dubbed the Queen of Desserts by my family.  The expectation is that I make ALL holiday desserts, so even though my sister does Thanksgiving, I do the desserts.  Queen of Desserts is a role I enjoy and one that I have learned to take very seriously.  I didn't quite understand the importance of my role until one year I decided to make an authentic Pilgrim dessert instead of the anticipated myriad of sinfully rich confections.  I am unsure if the recipe I cut out of the local newspaper omitted an ingredient, but let me just say that the not sweet brown cornbread like mush casserole dish that I presented to them did not go over well.  Grown women broke into tears and my son's disappointment was so intense that he continues to bring it up year after year.  "Remember the year that my Mom ruined Thanksgiving?".  I have learned from that day.  I get it.

Part of the fun for me in my role as Queen of Desserts, is getting the opportunity to try new recipes I have collected throughout the year.  I had narrowed my choices down to four for this Thanksgiving-pumpkin cheesecake with a praline caramel topping, a fudge brownie like tart with a mint center and ganache top, a dark chocolate chess pie and some lime cookie truffles covered in white chocolate.  I was ready. My adult son also loves cooking and is typically my right hand when it comes time to send the family into an intense Thanksgiving sugar rush. He was also ready.

We had the entire day to prepare these chosen desserts.  I tackled the pumpkin cheesecake while he put together the chess pie.  No problems.  I moved on to the fudge tart and he began the lime truffles.  I love most anything citrus and lime is one of my favorites.  This truffle recipe sounded amazing and it had rave reviews. Basically, a recipe of baked sugar cookies is crumbled and mixed with cream cheese, shaped into balls and covered in white chocolate.  Yum.  The sugar cookies could be from a homemade recipe, a mix, or even slice and bake ones.  I wanted easy, so I was disappointed when I discovered the slice and bake ones were all sold out at the grocery store.  I remembered I actually had a sugar cookie mix in my cupboard, so this was no big deal.  I had skimmed the recipe earlier and instructed my son to bake the cookies first as they had to be baked and crumbled.  I continued with the fudge tart and pretended not to notice his eyes cutting at me in disbelief as I handed him a box of organic sugar cookies mix that looked like it came out of rations for World War II.  Yes, it was on sale some year ago...

I finished the mint fudge tart and the sugar cookies were baked, cooled and ready to go when I picked up the lime truffle recipe.  The cookies smelled sort of odd, but since I really didn't know what organic sugar cookies should smell like I just chose to ignore this.  Plus, I now had something to prove-organic sugar cookies from World War II are just fine!  As I was reading the recipe, I realized a mistake had been made.  I so wanted to blame it on my son, but he had not even been given the opportunity to read the recipe.  Evidently, we were supposed to add the juice and grated zest from a lemon and a lime to the cookie dough BEFORE it was baked.  Bummer. 

My son and I are similar in so many ways.  Sometimes this is good and other times-well, not so much.  We are both extremely thrifty, hate to waste anything,  and being eternal optimists, we are positive we can fix everything.  Humor and intelligence are cure-alls for all of life's problems.  We are both also very convincing when we believe we have the answers.  When I informed him we had made a mistake, he didn't skip a beat to convince me that it was not a problem, in fact it would be better to add the juice and zest now after baking-it would only make them more flavorful.  I thought they might be soggy-a typical end result of mixing crispy crumbs with liquid.  My first impulse was to dump the odd smelling World War II organic crumbs and forget recipe number 4, but he was very persuasive.  They would be better, smoother and more lime tasting.  So, we rolled our soggy war crumbs and zest balls together and placed them neatly on a cookie sheet.  They looked like little meatballs with an egg wash glaze.  If we chill them long enough they will be fine...

The lime truffles recipe called for white chocolate candy coating.  I had several humongous bags of white chocolate chips that I had gotten at a closeout price.  They would work just fine.  The balls hardened to the point we thought we could dip them in the white chocolate, so I began the melting process.  The recipe clearly gave instructions to either slowly melt the chocolate over a double boiler or use the microwave at 50% power checking and stirring every 20 seconds.  My chips were frozen, so I used the bigger is better theory-100% power, 2 minutes.  When I took the bowl out to stir it, I couldn't believe it hadn't melted all the way, so I gave it another minute.  I took it out to stir it again, and it all just followed the spoon around in a big odd dry looking clump.  Two intelligent minds aren't stumped very long-it needed  milk since it wasn't candy coating, only chips.  More microwaving and now the milk is just laying on top of the white clump and won't mix in.  It needs a double boiler!  So we move it to the stove, heat it over a double boiler and now we have a huge ball of play dough.  The internet tells us we have "seized" the chocolate.  One humongous expensive bag of white chocolate chips that now looks like a lumpy glob of play dough heads for the trash.  Clean slate.  New industrial sized bag of chips goes into the pan over a double boiler as we have convinced each other that the microwave was the beginning of the problem.  I watch in horror as the huge ball of play dough comes back and that is the last of the chips stash.  Seized again!  Oil-we need a little oil.  Oil and water won't mix and neither will oil and white chocolate play dough.  There was no way we could dip the soggy war crumb balls in this huge glob of seized chocolate so....we will make squares!  I splat half the blob of chocolate seize on some parchment paper, put another piece of paper over it assuming I will roll it out but lo and behold the encased heat melts it!  I have to act fast, so I push it all flat, scalding the palms of my hands as I go.  Quick!  Give me the soggy war balls and we will roll them.  The sogginess of the balls prevented the now melted chocolate on the parchment paper from sticking so the only choice was to figure out how to pour it.  All the balls are quickly thrown on paper and smashed flat with my son's non-scalded palms to make chocolate glazing simpler.  The then melted chocolate has now begun to harden on the paper so a knife is used to scrape it off and each smashed soggy ball gets a dollop of chocolate paste.  The first survivors have hardened so I venture a taste.  They still smell odd.  They are like nothing I have ever tasted smothered in white chocolate paste.  Then it dawned on me-we had also forgotten the cream cheese.  We had taken World War II organic sugar cookie crumbs, taken all the crunch life out of them with undiluted lime and lemon juice, thrown in some sandy citrus zest for good measure and attempted to convince ourselves that we had made truffles.  Contrary to popular belief, even smothering this soggy mess in chocolate did not help.  Thinking back, seized or not, chocolate can not fix a botched recipe, forgotten ingredients or the possibility of a World War II organic sugar cookie mix being rancid... 

In the future, I believe I will pay more attention to Kenny Rogers  ....know when to fold 'em, know when to walk away and know when to run.....



  1. Oh my.....I can just see the 2 of you in there so determined!! And I can so imagine the year you decided to do the "traditional" Thanksgiving dessert thinking everyone would be so impressed. You have a wonderful family!

  2. I am now hungry. Sounds like a great time.
    If you have leftovers, Todd will be in the United States on 15 December. I will have him bring a cooler. Big hugs.

  3. That is hilarious, ( in hind site of course )

  4. Greetings From Southern California

    Merry Christmas & Happy 2012

    *The "W" in Christmas*


  5. Very interesting blog. A lot of blogs I see these days don't really provide anything that attract others, but I'm most definitely interested in this one. Just thought that I would post and let you know.