December 22, 2010

Happy Holidays

Last night I prepared for a small holiday gathering at our house tomorrow, you know, just some drinks and snacks with an emphasis on guests bringing something so there isn't any kitchen slaving or that sort of thing. But I'm feeling pretty festive this year and got home with this whole baking mission in mind. Fancy butter cookies with roasted cacao nibs, stuffed mushrooms, and fudge. These are simple things but I probably wouldn't be telling this story if things went according to plan.

It started out innocently enough. Got home. Turned the christmas lights on. Ran to Whole Foods to get cacao nibs. This was the first hiccup. They are expensive. Apparently it is cheaper to make actual chocolate than to put some raw nibs in a bag and send them up here. And I asked the dapper checkout guy if they had any roasted ones because that's what the recipe called for. He has to call the grocery section. No. We don't. Cause they would like, melt. In the roasting process. I feel brief shame for not only being ignorant of the cacao nib roasting process, but also because I'm buying cacao nibs in the first place. I purchase them and run home.

I prepare the cacao nib cookie dough with minimum fuss. I am gaining confidence. And then, the mushrooms. The stuffing mixture looks delicious and I'm thinking about how everyone will be impressed with these amazing mushrooms. The recipe calls for baking the mushrooms before putting the mixture in. Like, first with the round side down for twenty minutes and then you turn them. I do this while preparing all the elements for fudge which cleans out all the white sugar in the house and involves that marshmallow goo. That is some gross stuff. All the while Christmas music is playing on the soft rock AM station and I'm thinking about what a competent adult I am, just sitting at home by myself, baking in a meditative manner, listening to Christmas music, multi-tasking with ease.

Then I start boiling the fudge elements. Making fudge is like jumping in a car with no brakes and driving down a mountain. You can't stop, it's just hardcore boiling and stirring and waving that candy thermometer around hoping it hits the right temperature. If it doesn't you're left with a strangely grainy chocolate mass that no one wants to eat. It's alchemy. There's flour and goo everywhere. I'm chopping hazelnuts for the fudge, the sugar/butter mixture is boiling and then the timer goes off for the mushrooms and I obviously can't ignore them but I have to abandon the fudge mixture and I open the oven and they are the size of buttons. I have never seen mushrooms get this small and dessicated. I pull them out and one falls in the fudge and I'm trying to get the hazelnuts into the fudge and instead they all pour down into the stove element in a rattling finale. And still the Christmas music goes on.

So, I have to pour the fudge into the pan and hope for the best.  All the remnants are sitting there in the sauce pan and I have to eat it to prevent waste. I'm twitching from all the sugar in this fudge-eating daze and then this song comes on and it's that Can You Hear What I Hear song but it's sung by tiny children. With an echo effect. You know how children sing all close to the microphone and flat? It's not cute, it's just horrible. I suddenly feel like weeping and I'm just standing there with this fudge covered spoon in my mouth wondering what happened. There's no other way to describe it. Shit got real.

1 comment:

Kyle said...

Haha oh man I wish I could have some of that fudge tonight. I am sure everything turned out fantastic, but you are right, when you cook those mushrooms before putting the stuffing in they always seem to become the smallest mushrooms anyone has ever seen.

Have a festive time this evening and I will be there in spirit (maybe the spirit of Christmas Future).