about bliss

Thursday, February 18, 2010

daily bliss: melting hearts

a dozen red roses from G

On Valentine's Day in eighth grade, I dreamed of Michael J. Fox, and Kirk Cameron. More realistically, I fancied JP, my classmate and biology teacher's son. When I received a single pink carnation with a cryptic note from an anonymous admirer, my heart soared.

Maybe he did like me. Someone at my school did.

At the end of the day, my friends grinned as they told me they sent the flower.

My heart dropped, my dreams dashed.

I longed for a real Valentine.

For the next twenty-plus years, I alternately celebrated the day, wearing pink and hearts, sending cards and cookies to family and friends, or despaired, wearing black as I chomped the chocolates my mom never failed to give me.

A few years ago, I decided to declare the day one of self-love, and I would buy myself a nice gift: a massage, or new MAC lipstick. I would bake special treats and package them up for loved ones. I would snap up grocery store roses after the big day, when they were no longer wanted, and cost only five dollars a slightly wilted bouquet. They were still beautiful to me, brightening the February gloom in my single-girl apartment.

Every year, my best friend S and I would send each other cards, writing "maybe this time next year we'll have boyfriends!" Some years, I would think that I wanted a boyfriend more than anything else. I would make lists of traits said boyfriend should have. I would daydream perfect dates and perfect days.

And though I thought I wanted a relationship more than anything, I didn't. Not really. I approached dating cautiously, trusting my intuition after one or two dates most of the time. I kept my heart protected, and lived in the world of ideals and future perfection.

Several weeks ago G and I were talking about Valentine's Day, and I started to say, "Oh, I don't expect anything for the holiday. It's a commercial holiday, anyway." I stopped before the insincere words spilled out of my mouth. While I didn't expect any particular gift, I did want to acknowledge this day of love, somehow. My first Valentine's Day with a real boyfriend. A simple card, a shared meal, really, I had no expectations for how to celebrate this day with my Valentine, but I knew I wanted to mark the occasion.

I made my plans: I would offer to make anything G wanted for Vday dinner, bake an angel food cake with deep chocolate ganache, buy a bouquet of 14 purple tulips, and make a certificate for a lunch at Cafe Spiaggia when we're in Chicago next month.

purple tulips I gave G

We celebrated the holiday all weekend, swapping flowers on Friday, watching a matinee of Valentine's Day and dining out at Trattoria Stefano on Saturday, and exchanging cards and gifts on Sunday. As we cooked dinner together Sunday evening, we chatted and laughed, settling into the rhythm that suits us best.

My heart melting. My ideal realized. My funny, perfect Valentine.

angel food cake with ganache and hot pink sanding sugar

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

twd: rick katz's brownies for julia child

Readers, I just feverishly cut up the remaining brownies and stuffed them in the freezer.

They are too good.




Chocolatey bliss.


Every time I strolled past my 8 inch square pyrex dish in the kitchen, I cut off a slim rectangle and sampled.

Winter wears our patience thin. My overwhelming desire is to take refuge in carbs and pure sweetness.

These brownies deliver just that, a little too well.

Get thee to a freezer, tempter!

(and, despite a novel technique for beating the eggs and whisking them into the batter, these are a snap to prepare, say in the last 10 minutes before the super bowl begins and the stars are singing patriotic songs to the whirl of blossom, my trusty kitchen aid mixer).

Thanks to the chocolate obsessed Tanya of the delightful blog Chocolatechic for selecting this winner.

**no photo *again* this week because of my banishment of the brownies to an arctic home, and the dearth of natural light that isn't grey and snow filled**

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

twd: mini (not milk) chocolate (not bundt) cake

I have bundt pan envy.

The temptation to buy a mini bundt pan to bake these cakes was strong, but the nearest baking supply store is far-ish. Now that Spring semester has started, my regional sojourns are definitely limited.

And so, without the darling pans, I decided to make one six inch cake. I have a thing for babycakes;)

I read tweets and P & Qs and decided to use my standard 70% chocolate for the cakes to increase the chocolateyness, as many respondents reported mild chocolate flavor.

I also read tweets and P & Qs and decided not to make the glaze as it a) sounded like many people disliked it and had difficulties making it and b) I dislike corn syrup (yes, commercials, i know it's made from corn. but i watched king corn. i read a lot of writing about the food industry. i know how processed you are. i know how much oil you're consuming).

(have i mentioned how useful the tweets and P & Qs are? invaluable!)

(can you tell i don't have much to say about this cake?!?)

I made the cake quickly Sunday evening, in an attempt to catch most of Jane Austen's Emma currently showing on PBS, and also to be done, cooled, and ready to eat before G left. The speediness detracted from the quality of the finished product, I'm afraid. The texture was...interesting. Not exactly bundt like or regular cake like.

And, despite using darker chocolate, I was disappointed in the level of chocolateyness. I love overwhelming chocolate. I used some of the infamous chocolate malt frosting from a few weeks ago, stashed in my freezer, to top the cake, which in no way resembled its original bundt form.

G and I split a wedge as we watched the Grammys once Emma ended. G quite liked the cake, and I sent the rest home with him...without snapping a photo. (poor planning on the part of not one but two participants in project 365! yeesh!)

Thank you, Kirsten, for choosing this recipe! Check out her blog, I'm Right About Everything, for more mini bundt fun.