I thought that I would be able to completely evade writing about love and all its silliness at around this time (you know... Chinese New Year). I've become extremely skilled at handling things all by myself that many of my friends would probably believe I'm the kind of person for which celibacy was made. It stings a little, but my friends from medical school are very used to me being professional that any evidence of sentimentality surprises them (something for another time), while my close friends are so used to me deflecting gooiness and mushiness with sarcasm.
But then in the past year, I've been to so many airports and I'd be totally embarrassed if you saw me at the gate, watching other people. Like when this sweet-looking, portly middle-aged man was bidding good-bye to his wife (an overseas worker) at the gate. He had a sad smile and couldn't let go of his wife's hand as he wiped away tears with a handkerchief. Or coming back to Manila last Wednesday, when a kid, who couldn't have been older than eight, was wailing as he hugged his returning father (also an overseas worker) with a mix of emotions so powerful and indescribable. Happiness/sadness/pure love. If you didn't know kids you wouldn't think they'd be capable of such a complex explosion of emotion, but they are. And it was too much for the dad too, who cried.
Of course, you shouldn't really listen to anything I have to say. I get misty at those stupid Kay Jewelers commercials. But I much prefer my previous examples, not the manufactured swill that dictates love can only be measured by the sparkle of jewels or how many phone calls you get when you're apart. True love (and I'm no expert, so don't listen to me, again) is never angry or jealous; it is always selfless, and every now and then, because life is the way it is, it hurts.
Even though I'm not with anyone, love is threaded into every aspect of my life: when I'm so worried for someone that my heart stops; the sadness I feel when we eventually have to part; walking into walls when I'm busy thinking of someone. All that painful wonderfulness. I just have to notice it more often. Even an eight year-old can.
This cake is from Rose's Heavenly Cakes, which I reviewed for The Gastronomer's Bookshelf.
The mousseline is a pain in the ass, and I flopped at it even in an air-conditioned room, because I'm just that crazy. Anyway, I tasted the mousseline at Miette and as it turns out, I'm not a big fan of it even if it's made well. It had a great texture, but I'm still not fond of the taste of buttercream. I'd much prefer a stabilized whipped cream for this deep, fudgy cake.
By the way, I've posted two basic lessons already for my Photoshop/Elements blog, Special Effects. We're starting slow and building our skills as we go up the difficulty scale :)
Miette's Tomboy from Rose's Heavenly Cakes
- 118g (1/2 cup) boiling water
- 28g (1 ounce) 70% dark chocolate, chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 200g (1 cup) sugar
- 100g (3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons sifted) all-purpose flour
- 63g (3/4 cup + 1-1/2 tablespoons sifted) Dutch-processed cocoa powder
- 1-1/4 teaspoons baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- 54g (1/4 cup) vegetable oil
- 121g (1/2 cup) buttermilk
Preheat the oven to 175°C (350°F). Spray with baking spray, line the bottom with parchment, and spray again a 6-inch round cake pan at least 3 inches high (believe it or not, this was extremely easy to find in Manila). Attach a baking strip on the outside of the pan (I neglected this: don't. If you don't have one, strap on moistened paper towels on the outside of the pan).
Place the chocolate in a medium bowl and pour the boiling water over it. Stir until the smooth, then let cool until no longer warm but still fluid, then stir in the vanilla.
In a medium bowl, combine the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
In a large mixing bowl, beat the egg until thick and pale (at least 3 minutes on high speed). Decrease the speed and whisk in the oil slowly until smooth. Whisk in the buttermilk and chocolate-water until combined. Sift in the flour mixture and beat until smooth (about 2 minutes). Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 55-65 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool for 10 minutes then unmold, and turn right side up onto a wire rack and cool completely.
Don't even think about attempting this if it's humid or if the ambient temperature is higher than 21°C.
- 185g (13 tablespoons) slightly softened but cool unsalted butter, preferably high-fat
- 75g (2-1/2) large egg whites, at room temperature
- 100g (1/2 cup) sugar, divided
- 30g (2 tablespoons) water
- 1/4 + 1/16 teaspoon cream of tartar (yeah, I know)
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter until creamy and set aside in a cool place.
In a small heavy saucepan, add all but 2 tablespoons of the sugar (this amount is 75g) and all the water. Place over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is bubbling, then decrease the heat to low.
Place the egg whites in a medium mixing bowl and beat until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and beat until soft peaks form. Gradually add the remaining 2 tablespoons (25g) sugar while beating at high speed until stiff peaks are formed.
Increase the heat under the sugar syrup back to medium and boil until it reaches 120°C (248°F), then slowly pour the syrup into the beaten egg whites in a thin stream while beating on high speed, not allowing the stream to hit the beaters of the mixer. Continue beating for 2 minutes, then refrigerate until cool (21°C).
Beat the butter on high speed until pale, about 3 minutes. Add the meringue and beat for 2 minutes. It will start to look curdled but should come together if the temperature is right. If it starts to look watery, place the bowl in an ice bath until the mixture dips below 21°C. Beat by hand until smooth.
Slice the mound off the top of the cake, if any, then slice the cake into 3 equal layers. Spread 1/3 of the mousseline onto the bottom layer, place the second layer on top, repeat, then place the top on and frost with the remaining mousseline using a star tip, spiraling into the center. Smooth the top layer of mousseline except for the outer edge.