The Life and Times of Florence Knitingale

Saturday, February 24, 2007

As Long as We Were Discussing Chocolate....

And really, when AREN'T I discussing chocolate? There was a time and place in history when chocolate was used as currency and frankly, I'm torn between wishing we were still there because it would just be cool to spend chocolate chips, and being thankful that I don't have to worry about eating my money, since I already have enough of a problem with that little habit of mine..you know, that one that's creating a crisis of nude sheep all over the civilized world. Ahem. (I do feel badly about all the naked sheep for which I'm certain I'm at least somewhat responsible...but knitting them little sweaters really seems to be rubbing it in a bit.)

ANYWAY, Mr. K and I have been invited to dinner tonight at the home of a delightful doctor for whom I used to work and her partner. I adore Dr. A, and haven't seen her in far too long (notwithstanding the fact that I miss the medical world so very badly I'd probably pay good money just to touch her lab coat), so when she asked me to bring dessert, I wanted something really great. I hunted and researched and struggled and planned and considered combining elements of multiple recipes and watched the Food Network (okay, so I'll watch the Food Network at the drop of a hat which I admit is terribly strange...but at least this time I had a good excuse). I studied and hunted and searched and finally decided on:

Chocolate Trifle

Yes, indeedy. Chocolate cake made from scratch, removed from the oven and poked all over with a fork. Bailey's Irish Cream poured over the poked cake and the whole thing set to absorb. Spiked cake then torn into pieces and layered in a glass bowl with homemade fudge sauce and whipped cream. Perfect, no? I got started on it this morning and was laying out everything I would need....when it dawned on me what I was making. Chocolate cake, creamy filling, fudge sauce that will solidify until it's sort of frosting-like......yep. To impress my dear friend, I have studied and worked and planned and angsted to produce...

....a giant, boozy, Ho-Ho.

Or Ding-Dong...take your pick. Either way, not necessarily the paragon of elegance I was going for. Hang on, let me just check my voicemail.....nope. No calls yet from any of the finer restaurants, wanting me to be their pastry chef. Go figure.

So, in the list of Ms. K's Helpful Tidbits for Life (or for Saturday, at any rate), I offer these timeless suggestions:
1. Experimentation is best saved for when the outcome is not terribly important....which, of course will guarantee a perfect result with nary a giant snack cake in sight.
2. Spiking the cake will not make it any less of a Ho-Ho...better to spike the recipients if at all possible. Later, you can tell them it's a secret French recipe and that they loved it (Le Houx -Houx, I believe it's called).
3. Whipped cream, likewise, does not solve all sins, no matter what the cat thinks. And it's not nice to smear it on her nose where she can't really reach it. Even if it is funny.
4. Face-saving ideas such as "I'll blend the entire thing in the blender and call it mousse!" should be re-examined carefully after sitting down with knitting for at least an hour. Then, if it still sounds reasonable, consider whether you might have drunk either too much or too little of the Bailey's.
5. Related to the above, one should think seriously about the possible ramifications of becoming known as "the one who brought a Ho-Ho smoothie to a dinner party." Unless you don't like the hosts. In that case, throw some Twinkies in there and go to town. That should take care of all those pesky invitations for some time to come(for the record, I LOVE my hosts, so the smoothie is right out).
6. The use of chocolate in an experimental dessert may backfire since chocolate is poisonous to dogs, thus eliminating the option of "accidentally" dropping the bowl on the way in and letting the dogs eat it. (Note to self: explore the wonders of vanilla.)
7. When planning an experimental dessert, telling the hosts ahead of time exactly what you're going to make is the cooking equivalent of merrily announcing to your entire knitting group that you're going to master a new stitch and make a complete hat out of it and teach it to all of them at the meeting next week. With yarn you spun yourself. From your own sheep, that you'll shear for the occasion. In other words, it's just asking for trouble.
8. Friends who are not as bright as my doctor friend might be fooled by a blithe "why yes, this is the chocolate trifle I was telling you about" while handing over a store-bought angelfood cake and a can of Hershey's syrup. (Note to self: cultivate friends who were raised by monkeys in the wilds of Borneo and have never heard of cake. Or trifle. Or Ho-Hos.)
9. A good phrase to practice is "Why yes, I'd love to bring something. How are you for napkins?"
10. Another one is "No, we already had dessert. Don't you remember? You said it was really good."
11. I am not Paula Dean. Or Ina Garten, or the Naked Chef. I am Ms. Knitingale. Next time, perhaps I should offer to bring socks.

Speaking of socks, I can't begin to tell you how much I've appreciated all your support and encouragement regarding my "socks to dye for". It feels like I have a whole bunch of friends who come over and help me laugh at myself and move on. Now, if you can just talk me out of the whole "dying 25 pounds of sock yarn because I'm so darned clever" thing. Or into it. I'll let you know when I decide which.

8 Comments:

  • At 1:54 PM, Blogger Charity said…

    Elegant or no, the giant Ho-Ho still sounds like something I'd walk pretty far uphill to try! :0)

     
  • At 2:20 PM, Blogger picperfic said…

    That Ho-Ho trifle sounds just amazing...can you share the recipe please? You have had me in stitches here, reading your exploits...I have come to the conclusion that us knitters can follow a pattern and therefore we make good cooks too because we can follow a recipe. Just an observation of course. I have to add that I nearly made my sock too long whilst reading your words, isn't it funny how it seems to take forever to get to the toe shaping and then hurrah!! it's time to do some decreasing! Hope your Dr enjoyed the pud!

     
  • At 3:00 PM, Blogger Kitty Mommy said…

    You say all this like a spiked Ho-Ho is a bad thing! Elegant or not, I didn't hear one thing on the ingredient list that I would turn my nose up at!

     
  • At 7:21 PM, Blogger Marianne said…

    Le Houx -Houx, I so love that! It's like Joey Tribiani says...it's all good!

     
  • At 1:24 AM, Blogger Jo said…

    Well you could always distract them by taking your clothes off and pretend you are the naked chef, although that could probably cause more embarrassment than the hoho dessert..come on Flo it will be fine!!

     
  • At 2:39 AM, Anonymous angie Cox said…

    Well anything chocolate sounds good to me providing it's good chocolate not the kind of gunge Cadburys makes. I am not a dessert fan though so would maybe make some really crisp biscuit type thing to go with coffee. Whatever you make have a fantastic time.

     
  • At 7:32 AM, Blogger Kit said…

    That's why you should consult the sage and all-knowing Alton Brown and make the chocolate lava muffins, of course.

    That is, if you can stand gooey desserts (it's not underbaked! I swear!). It includes melted ice-cream, which in most cuisine is considered a bad thing except for here.

    Or you could just do what my girl-friends did and make a giant Swiss Cake and refer to it as The Ho all evening. "Oh yeah, at the last party, our Ho was really awesome!" "Well, our Ho is pretty good this time, too."

     
  • At 10:39 AM, Blogger Jo at Celtic Memory Yarns said…

    A bit MORE of the Baileys would be all I would suggest. If you've left any in the bottle. Then bring along some brightly coloured skeins of yarn as well. If the Baileys does its trick, you can all sit on the floor playing cats' cradle and having a REALLY good dinner party (honestly, they do that at all the Parisian embassy banquets...)
    Another trick to ensure success with a dessert you're bringing along is to soak raisins overnight in a gallon of brandy or whatever you have to hand - rubbing alcohol, meths, grenadine... Then tuck the swollen little beasties into the creamy mix and wait for the explosive reactions.

    We have some good ideas on entertaining here in Ireland. Some of them might even not include alcohol. But not many.

     

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