Saturday, December 25, 2010

Dirt Cake and Marzipan Mushrooms

This is a blog of heartbreak, dear readers. That is, I had my vegan heart set on making a buche de noel for my friend Diana's Christmas Eve party. And I had that heart broken. For those of you who are not so much in the know on these things, a buche de noel is also known as a yule log. Basically you make a swiss roll cake, then frost and decorate it to look ~kind of~ like a log. Cocoa sprinkles and powdered sugar stand in for "dirt from nature" as one amusing ehow video suggested and snow, obviously. It is also somewhat traditional to create a bark-like effect by dragging a fork along the frosted log, and to festoon the log with marzipan (or meringue, for the chicken ovum-inclined) mushrooms. Inevitably, I got cocky. I thought I had this yule log thing on lock-down. I dropped hints about it on facebook. I trumpeted about it to my friends via text message and on the phone. I was so confident that I was going to be able to pull it off seamlessly that I didn't leave myself all that much time to correct/revise/reverse direction altogether.

Then two things went wrong. First, the coconut whipped cream with crushed peppermint sticks was too thin. This part was my fault. I didn't allow adequate time for the cans of coconut milk to chill in the fridge, and apparently the store had had a run on them recently so the ones I bought were too recently manhandled in a warehouse somewhere. Because of this, the fat was insufficiently separated from the more liquidy part of the milk. Because of this, the coconut milk was too runny. And because of this, the coconut whipped cream was too runny. You're seeing the pattern here, right? I honestly think I could have worked with a too runny filling, though, if only the cake, which had rolled up perfectly and without incident when it was fresh out of the oven, hadn't cracked all the way through in three places when I unrolled it. There I was, dear reader, standing in my kitchen wearing my fabulous black Secret Society of Vegans apron, with my chilled bowl of runny, but decidedly delicious, coconut whipped cream ready by my side. As I gently unrolled the cake, using the utmost care, the damn thing cracked. My shrieks of disappointed horror could probably be heard in three counties. In desperation and denial, I attempted to fill the cracked thing anyway, only to have it crack even worse when I rolled it back up again. Furious, now, I threw the whole thing in the fridge and faced my beloved partner, C, who was standing gingerly by to absorb the tears or fists that inevitably result from such a thwarting at the hands of the baking gods.

While I was initially infuriated by C's suggestion that I make another cake, I soon calmed down and saw the wisdom in this proposal. I quickly whipped together a double batch of the basic chocolate cupcake recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, and baked it into a layer cake. This I frosted with chocolate buttercream and some of the now delightfully glaze-like coconut whipped cream. I topped the cake with adorable marzipan mushrooms. Seriously, can those things be any cuter? I left the sides of the cake bare, which rather worked because it was my de facto buche de noel...just without the log part. I instead thought of it fondly as a dirt cake, and I enjoined the party goers who received it to imagine that it was, in fact, rolled in some meaningful way. So I guess this is after all a sort of meaningful holiday story of thwarting, sadness, anger, and redemption. I really wanted a buche de noel, but what I got instead was a dirt cake. Luckily I--and my friends--really like dirt. Now somebody please please please give me another excuse to mold things out of marzipan, because I may have a new addiction.

3 comments:

Jenny said...

Adorable. And hey, baking disasters just happen.

Marla said...

Thanks, Jenny. I am, on occasion, a walking baking disaster.

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