So I turned 23 on Sunday, and despite my decision to cancel my planned tea party due to extenuating stress circumstances, I planned to mark the occasion with some baking (like you do). Unfortunately, both attempts were at least a moderate failure.
My first experiment was a recipe for Tangelo Creme Brulee that I borrowed from Epicurious. I had high hopes for this recipe, as we often would receive a box of tangelos from one of my Mom's sisters, both of whom have a part-year residence in Key West, and they were always tasty. When I found tangelos at New Pi, I was thrilled, but it didn't live up to expectations. Then again, to be fair, I didn't quite go by the recipe. First, I cut it in half to suit my tiny ramekins. Second, I actually didn't get enough tangelos the first time, so I had to go back and they didn't have any the next week. Instead, I used one blood orange (and three tangelos). The problem was that the ingredients didn't mix properly, so as you can see, there were little bits of cooked egg white all over the skin on top. Gently whisk? I think not. It might have worked better if I'd really beat those eggs into submission. I tried to salvage them by scraping off the skin and sprinkling sugar over what remained, but this was pretty much a failure. It was like eating citrus-flavoured pudding with caramel on top.
Next, I tried red velvet cake. I had a bit of a red velvet cupcake disaster when I tried the absolutely attrocious Duncan Heinz mix version, and I'd been craving real Southern red velvet cake ever since. I tried this recipe and was again unimpressed. Again, I did half the recipe to use my nine inch loaf pan, so that could have made a difference. It wasn't nearly as moist as I expected, and the taste was thoroughly unremarkable. That said, the icing is a real keeper. I just used all cream cheese instead of bothering with mascarpone, but I love the texture you get from whipping in some heavy cream, and the coconut topping was also a winner.
In other news, I've discovered the joys of Iowa City Public Library for the first time. I really have no excuse for the delay, but I was searching the catalogue on the off chance that they have any Alton Brown, and not only do they have Alton Brown books AND DVDs, but I tried doing a search just on the off chance, and... they have Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant! I've been wanting to get this one ever since I saw it on Not Eating Out in New York, a favourite blog of mine, and I immediately put a hold on it. Eep! Anyway, the point of all this is, I'm thinking I may start trying to do some food writing/cookbook reviews on this blog, maybe once a month. I may review some of my old standbys when I'm too busy to try something new, but I thought that would be fun, and I'm trying to get some more "theme" type stuff going here to supplement the more cost-heavy fancy recipes.
And finally, may I just say that Gourmet has really been making me happy lately? This month's issue makes me miss France so badly, but I can't wait to try the Meyer Lemon Cake with Lavender Cream Sauce and also that Alsatian almond tart. Also, I'm adding the Jura to my Much-Too-Long-Travel-List-of-Doom.