Last night, I fixed an inaugural mug of hot chocolate, that post-prandial herald of cooler nights. Since I didn’t have to awake before 6 a.m. for once, I stayed up to watch *Sex and the City* in syndication, only to discover one of my favorite episodes, the one in which Big announces his engagement to the “stick figure with no soul,” and the girls have a *The Way We Were* epiphany. Here’s to all of the k-k-k-Katie girls...
Back to my chocolate elixir. I make hot chocolate the old fashioned way, with milk, sugar, and, obviously, some form of chocolate. Last night I decided to use cocoa powder, largely since my bar chocolate supply is running dangerously low; I’ve been waiting for the weather to cool to restock, since the summer heat wreaked havoc on the chocolate’s temper. My favorite cocoa powder is Valrhona, that mahogany treasure I use for my trademark Better-than-You-Know-What Cake (a story for another entry). I love Valrhona for its depth without much sweetness. I heat the milk (1% organic), sugar, and cocoa on the stovetop on low, allowing the flavors time to meld. For fun, I added a splash of Frangelico to my mug. A slice of honey whole wheat toast with a slathering of Amish butter finished off my treat.
I do love fall, though some days the grey skies are too ominous a harbinger of the endless winter to come. But as I pulled up my down comforter and settled into a deep sleep, I was content. This morning, the absence of the alarm was a blessing, and I lingered in bed deciding what to make for breakfast and when I would fit in my run between grading essays and writing job application letters. This summer I sprang out of bed and ran before breakfast, while the morning retained some coolness, but one of the glories of fall is good temps for running throughout the day. I walked past my running shoes, pulled on my pink velour hoodie, headed toward the kitchen and selected my *Gourmet* cookbook from the shelf.
“Puffed Apple Pancake,” a treat described as perfect for a weekend at a ski lodge, was a decadent breakfast I’d been wanting to try for some time. Usually I eat oatmeal with fruit, nuts, and flaxseed, or a breakfast burrito with vegetables, eggs, and cheese. The apple pancake, noted as “more custardy than cake-like,” seemed to combine the benefits of both of my usual breakfasts with a decidedly dessert-like quality: a splash of vanilla. I followed the simple directions and brewed my morning coffee, Indian single-estate from Zingerman’s.
I pulled the puffed pancake out of the oven, impressed with the souffle-esque height, and set the skillet on the stovetop. As I cut a wedge of the pancake, the hot pan handle met the patch of skin between my low-riding yoga pants and short hoodie. I now have a puffed patch of skin on my stomach, and a conviction to always wear an apron when cooking, especially when I’m tempted to dress like a teen-age rock star:)
But back to the pancake...I’m tempted to write that the taste is heavenly, but I remember my rant against such abstract analogy in class this week. The texture is indeed custardy, and the vanilla flavor reminiscent of creme brulee (the real dessert, for those of you familiar with “The Truth About Creme Brulee,” a certain theory my friend S-lo and I developed, as well as the name of my latest chick-lit novel in progress). With the apples and the eggs, the breakfast seems somewhat healthy (if one can overlook all the foamy butter and two kinds of sugar). I’m ready to pick up my trademark green grading pen and tackle the seemingly endless pile of student food culture narratives. And, once my pancake settles, lace up my running shoes and watch the leaf-strewn sidewalk unfurl beneath my feet.