You fail sometimes

Posted in: Food, Real life

When I went shopping for all the ingredients for Black Forest Gateau 1.0, and knowing full well that I'd make the cake again right afterwards, I went and bought 3-times the ingredients needed to make the cake: 1 lot for the trial cake, 1 lot for the improved cake, and 1 lot for 'in-case-shit'. It worked well for the most part, and I was left with some extra cake ingredients that I could use in other baking. For the other part however... well let's just say that the recipe I was working off said it needed a block of dark chocolate, so I bought 3. I ended-up using about 5% of a block of dark chocolate after 2 cakes were done, leaving me with 2.95 blocks of dark chocolate and no clue on what the hell to do with it all.

Yes, there was the obvious idea of eating it all, but I'll confess right now that I don't really like dark chocolate that much - I'm more of a milk chocolate person. I can't really eat a square of dark chocolate by itself without having the bitterness of it trigger the neurons in my brain responsible for sending a signal my facial muscles to make a screwed-up face.

Boy making a yuck face
You should see the face I make when I drink something with a strong alcohol content

In an attempt to use the dark chocolate, the first thing that came to mind was to bake brownies. I did that, twice in the span of a week, each batch consuming half of the 0.95 block of dark chocolate. That left me with 2 more blocks to use.

Not wanting to make another 4 batches of brownies (if 2 batches in a row was making subsequent oven-cooked food smell of chocolate, I didn't want to know what doing that another 4 times would do), I asked around for ideas on what to make using the rest of the chocolate, and someone came back to me with some recipes that promised to use entire blocks at a time: a dark chocolate cheesecake, and a chocolate mousse cake.

These seemed like good ideas to me, so I looked-up recipes on the internet, set a time to attempt the cheesecake, and invited the idea-girl over to help me out (me not being all that great with baking, and she being a very experienced baker), promising a front-row seat to a surprising success... or an epic failure.

Epic fail

One thing I did try to plan was to have us try the cheesecake before we had to go (we both had a Rugby World Cup game to attend that night), but I never knew just how long a cheesecake had to spend cooking and cooling in the oven. Neither of us had a chance to try the cheesecake before we had to go, but all that waiting made my apartment smell almost like the brownies I made before.

Once home from the rugby game though, I went straight for the cheesecake, taking it out of the fridge and immediately not liking how it looked out of the cake tin: the top was tough, reminiscent of the edges of brownies (which in some recipes you have to cut off) and it kinda sunk in the centre. The inside looked better, but when I went to taste it, it was like eating a slightly soft piece of dark chocolate; bitter, and not at all sweet :(

I learned that night that substituting the white chocolate for the dark chocolate wasn't all that good of an idea since the original recipe relied on the white chocolate for it's sweetness and so had very little sugar in it which I didn't at all make up for when I switched chocolate.

I don't know what came over me, but after the dark chocolate cheesecake fail, I was determined to get it right; part of it being that I wanted to prove to the friend who came over that I can actually bake, and the rest of it just my usual stubbornness. So the next day during down-time at work, I collated cheesecake recipes and ideas to make my own cheesecake, no longer caring about using the dark chocolate, but just determined to not be beaten by a damn cheesecake!

Stubborn cat
This cheesecake is my proverbial cactus

I filled-up a page of one of my old drawing books with a recipe, some notes on lessons learned, and then made some mini-cheesecakes (I basically made miniature cheesecakes filling-up 2 or 3 spots in a large muffin tin instead of a full-on cake). When those didn't turn out according to plan, I took down more notes on what went wrong, what I can do next time to resolve it, and the next day I tried again.

This has been going on for every night this week since the weekend. I come home from work with a detour to the grocery if I need more ingredients, and then start on the next iteration of mini cheesecake.

Unfortunately, success is still out of reach.

Feeling a bit defeated, but still wanting something to show for my efforts, I put together a dessert from the leftover cheesecake ingredients and whatever the hell else I felt like using. What results was a sort of parfait: biscuit crumbs in the bottom, middle, and top layers, the cheesecake filling making up for most of the middle, and various leftover canned fruits throughout. Hell I even added sprinklings of the dark chocolate of which I still have roughly 0.8 blocks worth.

There are a few glasses of this hybrid dessert cooling in the fridge right now and, for something that's effectively the by-product of several failed cheesecake attempts, I'm feeling pretty good about it since without the failed cheesecake, all that's left in those glasses are the parts that I became good at in the last couple of days. It's basically everything that I didn't screw up.

I've asked another of my friends to be my guinea pig for tomorrow - we're meeting up after lunch to try this dessert. One thing that's worrying me about our meet is that my 'guinea pig' is pregnant - I'm praying very hard right now that what I've developed doesn't cause miscarriages.