Friday, February 11, 2011

Red Velvet and Rubbing Alcohol Cake

For several months, I’ve been on the quest to make the perfect macaron.  I conducted full macaron DOEs (that’s Design of Experiment for those of you who aren’t engineers) to determine the right oven temperature, meringue variety and wait-time.  My coworkers were growing bored with the plates full of macawrongs that turned up in the breakroom-- wondering at my obsession with the “cookies” or “mini hamburgers.”  

In honor of Valentine’s Day (which is one of my very favorite days) I decided to create a cake of love.  Love wouldn’t simply be the secret ingredient, it would be a theme.  What, you ask, represents love?  I decided on a red velvet cake with rose mousse on top.  It appeals to all the senses.  Except hearing.  Maybe I could serve a mix-tape along with the cake. 

The cake went without a hitch.  The mousse was more problematic.  I added 8 tablespoons of rosewater to some gelatin and let it sit for 15 minutes. I should have noticed then that the gelatin was not doing its thing but I had other issues on my mind.  I had the egg whites whipped ahead of time but attempted to tackle the whipped cream and the custard simultaneously.  As such, I overwhipped the cream and while I was sighing over the stiffened milk,  the custard developed huge lumps.  I trashed both and remixed.  

I dumped the gelatin and rosewater into the mix, folded it together and was about to pour it over the cake when I thought to taste it.  As I lifted the spatula to my tongue, a feeling of dread floated over me.  Or maybe I assumed the feeling was dread because it had the thick flowery scent of a funeral.  

That also might explain why it tasted like embalming fluid. 

A more likely explanation is that I used 8 tablespoons of rose extract instead of rose water.
Mousse part 2 was much better.  According to what my coworkers said, “it tastes like roses smell.”  I feel like that’s a compliment.

Rose mousse--much like Valentine’s day and love in general--may not be great the first time...but once you get it right, it’s wonderful.  


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