Do you know how sometimes you do something and then you think, “Man, I should remember to not do this ever again”? Memo to myself: Never try going on a diet, as steamed mushrooms taste awful, and make you grumpy and unhappy. Never sign up with a fitness studio, as you always end up going only two times, but paying for the next two years.
Normally, I remember these “memos” very good, and after failing two times tops I stop doing whatever I was doing there. But there is one “memo” that I apparently refuse to take seriously.
Couple of days ago, I saw this amazing recipe online. It was a recipe of a chocolate cake that went something like this:
- melt stuff
- add more stuff to stuff and mix together
- pour stuff into a cake tin, put in the oven, wait 20 minutes
No “separate egg yolk from egg white for the reason I won’t tell you”, no “beat the crap out of egg white and sugar till it becomes fluffy, but not too fluffy”, no “add water to batter till it becomes liquid, but not too liquid”. The second best part was that “the stuff” was like 5 ingredients, the majority of which I already had.
These simple instructions were supposed to result into “rich, moist, and generally gorgeous looking Mexican style chocolate cake with chili flakes in it”. A dream!
Could it be easier? I thought one can train a raccoon to do that! So I decided to ignore that memo to myself about never baking again and to try “one more time”, because this time I was completely sure I would nail it. Like 200%.
How can I be worse in this than a raccoon? Well… Where should I start?
Apparently, when it comes to reading the recipes, my attention span, as well as the short term memory, is exactly 3 seconds:
The recipe said to take chocolate with 70% cocoa solids. So I went shopping for it and came home with a 50% cocoa bar. Why? I can’t tell you. I guess this will have to remain a mystery forever. I had to sacrifice my 60% cocoa bar that I had stored for eating purposes, which made only the half of the necessary chocolate amount. I had to use 50% one for the second half.
The recipe also said to use ground almonds. I thought I had some, but I didn’t, so I ended up shredding the almond flakes. And yes, there is a difference.
And the last but not least, I didn’t have the chili flakes, so I decided to shred some dry chili peppers. Isn’t it how chili flakes are made anyways? But how should I decide how many peppers to shred? The recipe gave the measures for the flakes, not for the whole peppers. First, I was thinking to use only one chili pepper. But then I remembered that last night, when I made chicken for dinner and asked my husband whether it was not too spicy for him, he said no and asked for additional chili pickles. So I thought it wouldn’t hurt if I used a bit more chili this time. Yes, because chili in chicken and chili in baked goods is absolutely the same thing! Because everybody, especially men, who usually tend to have more understanding for unconventional tastes of things that are supposed to be just sweet, go like ‘I think this chocolate cake could use more chili’.
I can tell you in advance, we were both very lucky that day he didn’t say it was too less garlic in that chicken. I cannot guarantee you what kind of conclusion my brain would have reached from that statement.
Oh wait, the chili flakes situation wasn’t the last part of it! Step 4: “Poor the batter into a cake tin”. Yeah… there is a problem, you see. I don’t have any! But I have a muffin thingy, you know, the one you use to bake muffins in. And as the batter was already ready, I decided muffins it is. Thank God I had an oven! Not sure if I could have found a suitable substitute for that on such a short notice.
To summarize it all, using my amazing ability to read and follow recipes, as well as thinking in advance I made following “improvements” to the original recipe:
- Use 55% chocolate instead of 70%. Result: the amount of fat used was much higher, as the “missing” 15% that was supposed to be cocoa was actually butter.
- Use shredded instead of ground almonds.Result: I couldn’t taste any almonds.
- Guess the amount of chili. Result: oh, you just keep reading, I’ll tell you later in detail!
- Use muffin baking thingy instead of a cake tin. Result: the layer of batter was thicker, which resulted in… I’m not actually sure what.
While my muffins were baking, I could see the fat bubbling on top of them. 200 gr butter (it’s like almost the whole stick, people! Normally, I need a month to finish that!) plus extra butter from the “missing chocolate”. I already started feeling a bit nauseated thinking of all the calories every muffin would have. This is another reason I don’t like baking: you get to see what actually is inside! And this just kills all the fun. If you ask me, in case of cakes (and sausages), ignorance is indeed a bliss.
I gave my muffins couple of more minutes, as I thought the layer of the batter was thicker that it would have been in a cake tin (yes, I can act intelligent if I want to), took my creation out and let it cool down. Needless to say, my “improved” version looked slightly different from the original:
Do you think it’s pomegranate seeds? I think pomegranate seeds is what’s missing. Otherwise it looks almost the same.
Finally, the moment of truth arrived. I took a bite from one of the muffins. It tasted ok to me. One could taste the chili, yes, but it was a slight aftertaste nothing more. So I decided it was safe to give one to my husband, who already smelled the freshly baked chocolate goods and was asking every five minutes whether we can have some now. After taking couple of bites he said it was good, but there was a strange aftertaste he couldn’t identify. I said it was chili. He was like, “exactly”, and gave me a look that had only one word in it: “WHY?!” I answered his silent question saying it was what it said in the recipe (Best strategy ever: Spoiled your food? Blame the recipe!) Besides, it’s not much, I tasted it before, maybe if he ate some more he would get used to the taste.
The poor guy tried his best but had to leave a piece on the plate saying he just can’t deal with all that chili. I brought the “chicken not spicy enough from last night” argument, which got me a partly confused look of “you cannot be serious right now”, which I decided to ignore.
To demonstrate that he was just being a sissy and it was not at all too much chili, I took a big bite and started chewing on it, simultaneously giving my “what are you talking about, this is an awesome cake” speech. And then it hit me. You see, I’m a really fast eater. With me, it goes like “chew-chew-swallow, chew-chew-swallow”. My husband, however, eats slowly. For him, it’s more like “chew… chew… count-till-10… chew-some-more… tell-a-story… swallow”. So when I took that very first “test bite” it was a quick one, which took like a second. But when I was proving my point, talking and still having the cake in my mouth, it started to burn, and burn for real. With every half a second the burning powers of that cake seemed to increase exponentially. Having realized what I had done again, how I managed to screw up the probably simplest recipe ever, I got a stroke of a hysterical laugh, now really unable to swallow the cake I still had in my mouth, which by then started to burn the hell out of me.
So I ended up having food in my kitchen, which could give you diabetes, catapult your cholesterol level to the stars, or give you tongue burns just by you looking at it. That was the second time in my life when I was scared of my own food (the first time was when I made chili con carne, another long story). My husband was like, “well, that’s a lot of left overs”. I was like, “We ate only one out of six, how is this left overs?”. And he was like, “oh believe me, these are left overs”, which actually meant “There is no way I’m gonna eat this!”, which, in turn, meant I was completely on my own with the “monster muffins”.
Well, I always had a suspicion my soft heart was more of a curse than a blessing. But when my heart told me that I couldn’t through food away while children in Africa are starving, and had to eat it now, I was sure it’s definitely a curse, and that I would probably die a not-so-honorable death from diabetes, high cholesterol and mouth burns. Unfortunately, I always go where my heart takes me. So I ate them. I ate them all. Alone. Sometimes two a day. Sometimes feeling that I’m going to see this muffin coming back out of me, it was so “rich”. The secret was to eat fast and to drink milk with it, and hey, I survived! Take that, you “monster muffins”! Although I still haven’t checked up with my scales. I think I’ll postpone it till spring.
No, but seriously: Memo to myself: Please, never try baking again. Ever.