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Hungry Magazine - All Things Tasty
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02.23.06

Thinking On Your Feet

Recipes


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Raspberry Dessert

A few weeks ago, some good friends cashed in on a dinner that I owed them.

Since I love cooking so much, I tend to plan ahead for a good meal. I’m still relatively new in the kitchen, so I try to cut corners wherever I can to save time. Two days before the dinner, I had planned on making a Flourless Chocolate Cake from a trusted recipe. I was thinking of plating it on some Orange Crème Anglaise, striped with Raspberry Sauce. This was a safe and easy standby, considering I had made the cake flawlessly a few times before, along with the accompanying sauces.

On the other hand, I might have been drinking some whiskey when I made the cake.

As a strapping young lad, I’m confident in my drunken baking (who isn’t?). But in all honesty, this may have affected my judgment slightly. As this tipsy baking ensued, I quite possibly flubbed the finest details of the preparation, especially the part where I was supposed to delicately fold egg whites into the thick sweet chocolate mix to create the final batter. In all likelihood, this resulted in a denser batter, and later, when I tried to sneak an early piece of the finished product, the entire cake split into giant asymmetrical pieces, leaving me feeling a bit sheepish.

In frustration, I took large chunks of the result and stored them away in a Tupperware container. Dessert was hosed, dinner was the next day, and I had no idea what to do next.

I’ve decided that thinking on your feet in the kitchen is one of those things that you can’t be taught – you’ve got to be ready to make drastic changes at the last second. You’ll make mistakes; it might be that you forgot to buy a few ingredients, or you might have burned the chicken after being distracted by the television. These things happen. But at the same time, you can always find something to salvage. Don’t be afraid to dive right into your own messes with a sense of adventure in the things you know.

For inspiration, I took a stroll around Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood to see if I could think of anything to ignite my imagination. I found a pint of decadent ice cream in a small grocery store, and ideas slowly sprang into focus. I grabbed some whipping cream, a few containers of fresh raspberries, and my dessert had direction.

Dinner was good the next day, don’t get me wrong. But dessert was in a whole new league.

The end result: a martini glass with large Flourless Chocolate Cake crumbles, topped with a luxurious scoop of Dark Chocolate and Pandan Leaf ice cream from Chicago’s own Vosges, stripes of sanguine Raspberry Sauce, freshly Whipped Cream with a hint of vanilla and sugar, a few plump berries, the whole thing garnished with a dark chocolate Ghirardelli square, filled with raspberry puree.

Over the top? Maybe. But when we sank our spoons into the piles, letting the flavors melt in our mouths, I don’t think I’ve ever heard such silence around the dinner table. You know you’ve done a good job when everybody looks up at the same time, smiling. And to think the whole moment might have begun with an ill-timed sip of whiskey.

Want to think on your feet too? Try the recipe.

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