Tuesday, December 27, 2005

A Good Family Laugh

I swore I wasn't going to cook anything complicated for Christmas dinner this year. Bruce and I decided we would go easy on ourselves and just grill filets, his mom would do twice-baked potatoes, and I would make favorite Warm Goat Cheese salad from "Barefoot in Paris" from the Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten.

While going through the cookbook, which has become one of my favorites, I ran across the dessert "Ile Flotino" or "Floating Island." I read the description, which had phrases such as "your guests will be groaning with pleasure, " and "they will want to lick their plates clean." Sounded like the perfect dessert for my family!

The "island" of this dessert is a fluffy cloud of baked meringue. Now, I know better than to make meringue in Hawaii. As a dedicated and fearless baker, there are some things that you know just don't work here, and meringue is one of them. It is far too humid and they will never become crisp and melt-in-your-mouth light like they are supposed to. However, against my better judgment, because I was so enchanted by the description, I thought I could pull it off.

I baked the meringues in the oven and then turned it off and left them inside, thinking the warm dry air was the safest place. When I took them out, they were a very light brown and dry to the touch, just as they were supposed to be. So, despite the fact that the creme anglaise was not as thick as it was supposed to be (but that's another story!), I assembled the dessert: a pool of creme anglaise, an "island," a generous sprinkle of almond praline and a generous drizzle of homemade caramel and VOILA it went to the table and everyone was impressed...until they tried to eat it!

The meringues, while dry on the surface, were extremely sticky blobs of goo, which was exacerbated by the sticky caramel. I am thankful I have a good sense of humor, because it was quite funny for me to watch my sweet family trying to delicately eat this mess (trying not to insult the cook!) and as soon as I started laughing, so did everyone else.

But the nicest thing of all was Bruce's comment that even though it didn't turn out quite the way I had planned, everyone ate their entire dessert and he even wanted to lick his plate (just like the cookbook said!). At least it tasted good!

New Year's Resolution #1: Don't be swayed by fabulous descriptions in cookbooks when you KNOW the recipe won't work, and if you do it anyway, be prepared for comical outcomes!

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