Friday, October 28, 2005

Snap, Crackle and Flop

I can deftly royal ice a birthday cake, roll a roulade without turning it into cake carnage and dip truffles in couverture without losing the ganache filling to the hot little hands of the molten chocolate. How on earth I managed to stuff up Rice Krispie cakes tonight, is a mystery.

Actually It’s not, it’s pretty rudimentary science, but there's nothing wrong with taking a little creative license. It being my last week at work, I wanted to make something to take in the following day for the folks there, just to celebrate. ‘Quick’ and ‘easy’ were the watchwords of the evening, since my day at work was rather taxing and our kitchen looked like a student houses’ thanks to last night’s meal. I didn’t really want to add any more washing up to the insurmountable pile that lay next to the sink. The easiest, one-bowl, no-bake treat I could think of was Rice Krispie cakes – that cute staple of the children’s birthday party. Chocolate, butter, golden syrup and cereal – so simple and fuss free. No problem. Usually, I'd make the mars bar version, which is somewhat more sickly (but not in a bad way however) and sticky, but having none of those to hand, and a large bar or dark chocolate in the cupboard, I embarked on a slightly more adult version (not that kind of adult, silly).

Toying with the idea of adding some ground almonds to the mix, I decided to leave it and keep the mixture as pared down as possible since I really didn’t want to experiment and then consequently mess up. Hmpf.

After breaking up an entire 200g bar of choc and putting it to melt using the usual bowl-over-water method, I thought that maybe a little extra heat would get the job done quicker. And it would be fine, since I’d check the pan in a few minutes to make sure things weren’t getting too excitable. I decided that now may be a good time to tackle washing off all the dried-on food currently adhering to my crockery and cutlery. So happily, I waded through the pile, singing to myself and enjoying the thrilling view of my neighbour’s fire escape through the window as I sloshed around with a sudsy sponge. Half-way through, I dried my hands carefully and checked on the chocolate which seemed to be melting at a steady rate. However, not thinking, I forgot to turn the flame down a few notches, which in retrospect was an entirely necessary exercise. Continuing with the washing up and subsequently also taking on an involved conversation with my flatmate about my day at the office, the chocolate on the hob slipped from my mind. I think it was this period of time which really sealed the fate of my chocolaty little offspring. Returning to the bowl, nothing seemed noticeably amiss, and I stirred the chocolate, which was entirely melted and at first glance, fine. However as my spoon came to the end of its figure of eight, I met a few tiny particles of resistance. I stopped inhaling. I knew then and there that I’d blew it, but, I soldiered on, adding the butter to try and remedy the situation, stirring the mix panickedly (which probably didn’t help matters, really). The more I stirred, the more the mixture seized up into a relentless hard ball so, in a last ditch attempt to salvage the mess, I added the rice krispies. ERk. What was once a stirring action had now turned into a kneading nightmare as I smooshed the cereal into the unyielding chocolate. Persisting, I managed to add about a quarter of the weight of rice krispies that I should have been able to incorporate. Angrily, I continued to tip the mixture into a miniscule clingfilm-lined pyrex dish and promptly shut myself away to cool-down whilst I let the dish do the same.

Yes, I know, I heated it up to the point of no return. And it's more than likely with all that time on the hob, a little steam from the water below found its way into the bowl. Yes I know you should keep an eye on melting chocolate. But I didn’t. Crucify me.

Anyway, although no one at work got any treats (and luckily I hadn’t told them that they’d be getting any, so I didn’t have to admit the embarrassing fact that I buggered up kiddie food), Gareth and I actually enjoyed scoffing my mistake. It was, in all honesty, entirely unpresentable, but did tasted remarkably like thicker version of a nestle crunch bar, which is no bad thing. However, from a mix which should have made about 30-40 cakes, it yielded about 12 squares, which isn’t exactly economic. And I’m about to become unemployed.

Lesson learnt.