Friday, August 23, 2013

Afternoon coffee (at 7 pm)

hese things always begin with the best of intentions, not to mention quite innocently. I had two objectives this afternoon (oh dear, and I see it's now 7pm. oops):
• Have a cup of coffee and plow through some documentation. And, I prefer having a small snack with my coffee, a croissant, a cookie, a slice of cake...
• Use up the heavy cream I accidentally bought to go in said coffee because I hadn't had coffee yet (the lack of a dilutionary dairy substance being the issue) and so instead of the milk I usually get I got a half litre of very thick, organic cream.

So what did I do? well I tweeted of course, asking for recipes. @HarlanH (data scientist extraordinaire) thoughtfully replied and reminded me of the existence of recipes that aren't for baked goods. Crazy, right? In retrospect, I ought to have just gone with his first thought and done a cream sauce for pasta. Instead, I followed his other recommendation to check out something called Eat Your Books.

As it turns out, Eat Your Books is a handy dandy, plug your cookbooks/magazines/blogs into it-search engine for physical collections. I faintly heard choirs of angels as I poked through the homepage: finally, I can search my cookbooks without pulling each one off the (rather precarious) shelf and flicking through the index, then a handful of recipes trying to find a use for my one stray ingredient! That method works ok for main ingredients, like zucchini, or pork chops, or even chocolate, but not for say, whole vanilla beans, cracked wheat, or, in this case, heavy cream.

I added my top cookbooks with haste. A free subscription only allows 5 resources on your e-shelf: Mastering the Art of French Cooking, The Art of French Baking, The Essentials of Baking, The Joy of Cooking and The Pie and Pastry Bible. That covers everything I usually look through, anyway. And lo, five hundred and forty four recipes appeared!

It being me, I didn't really have many other ingredients on hand apart from the standard baking arsenal, so I used the filters to narrow things down to "cakes." The filters are actually quite useful. Frankly, a paid subscription would be worth it, only $25 a year, I think. I would prefer some integration with other services, maybe add things I bought on Amazon, or pull in my "cookbooks" tag from LibraryThing. More so, I would like to be able to search all my physical books digitally. I can always use Google Books, but I don't think I've seen a service that will let me save my books and then search them. I'd love to be wrong about this, so please correct me if that's the case.

Right, so anyway, I wound up with a recipe from the 75th Anniversary Joy for Black Forest Cake. I made it a little easier, just two layers instead of three, and amusingly enough, I had half as much heavy cream as it called for (still plenty). I also had some sweet cherries I preserved in brandy back in cherry season, so that covered cherries and kirsch, and I had the cream, chocolate, just enough eggs (market tomorrow!). So here it is, the result of two hours, a lot of flipping back and forth in the Joy for base recipes, and some impatient refrigeration time.

The grand irony here, of course, is that I just used up all the cream in the cake, and now have nothing to put in my coffee.