Thursday, May 27, 2010

A bike tire brownie cake and a culinary near-disaster

Here's a good tip....if you're going to spend weeks (there was a secret notebook -with drawings- devoted to the project) planning a party for someone you care about & their nearest & dearest, try not to give the guests salmonella.

A brief (maybe) backstory:
My girlfriend & I had been dating for nearly 2 years & we'd yet to celebrate one of her birthdays together.  Two of my birthdays (who's a spoiled brat?) but none of hers.  On Birthday #1 we hadn't started dating yet.  On Birthday #2 she was on a cross-country bike trip (r.e. the bike tire cake in the title- I did consider flyinf\g to central Florida but the logistics were a bit spotty.)

So this year, after these nearly 2 years together & being in the same state again, I asked if she'd like a bit of a celebration.  A party.  Whatever she wanted.  The details were hashed out & we agreeed on when & where & what, and that she would know who was invited but no further details.
The theme was loosely bikes, chocolate, music (I'm sure I'll share more in future posts...cause it was AWESOME) and we served quite a spread, modeled after the beloved "dipping platters" at River Gods in Cambridge Again, more later.

To the cake.  The cake that I decided, inspired by a giant round pizza-pan-ish pan, should be a giant bike tire.  Made of spicy brownie, one of S's favorite treats.  I've made this fantastic cocoa brownie recipe from one of my favorite food blogs a few times, tinkering with it a bit each time.  This time, the recipe was to be tripled, kicked up with cayenne pepper, & spread thin in the big pan.  And expertly cooked up by my friend as she helped me frantically prepare the night before- including bringing all her butter, sugar, & cocoa powder.
Combined with mine we had just enough (remember the just part).  But...
"Where are your eggs?" 
"My....oh shoot.  How did I forget eggs?!?" 
"There are some eggs in your fridge."
"Must be my roomates, I don't want to take all her eggs."
"You could return them tomorrow."
".....Okay."  And then I was consumed....with delight...and relief....etc....because there were actually a full dozen eggs in said carton.  A gastronomic miracle.

6 broken shells & 15 minutes later, the house smelled liked Hershey's Theme Park....if it was Ghirardelli's Theme Park with a bakery section, dips were being whipped.....and my roommate came home.
In lieu of the planned note, I knocked on her door and explained about the borrowed egs which I would return tomorrow  & thanks & you should comd taste some.....and her look of horror shut me up. 
"Those eggs are really old."
Oh that's all? I'm sure they're not that......February 11.
On May 6 I made a triple batch of my girlfriend's faovrite spicy brownie for her birthday party with every last drop of butter, cocoa, & sugar in the house with eggs that expired on February 11.
Still holding out some hope (yes, feel free to laugh.  and be horrified.) I did an Egg Test - the egg failed so horribly it practicially levitated out of the water dish- fresh eggs sink, bad eggs float- or, in this case, launch into their own planetary orbit.

We tortured ourselves with 15 minutes more of delicious-brownie-baking-smell and when the creation was done, I dumped it.  In the trash.  And sanitzed the hell out of hands & kitchen.

I consoled myself with the witty Facbeook banter & sympathetic posts it got me the next day as I did an 8 a.m.. grocery store run, plus got quality times with friends as we cake-decorated mid-party.

And then somewhere around 10 p.m., we sang.  S blew out candles.  And smiled super big.  Of course she knew it was a bike tire immediately. And our guests loved it.  (The guest of honor was too busy having fun to nosh & enjoyed her dessert from the freezer the next day- she liked it too!)

So, without further ado (take a stretch break, use the restroom, get some coffee),
How to make a Spicy Brownie Bike Tire Birthday Cake
- Grease a round pan- giant if you have one, or a smaller round cake/pie pan
- For the giant: make a triple batch of the brownie linked above or a double batch of my super-secret last-minute cake fix (homemade is my pref. but I have no qualms about the mix when the need arises- or prevents salmonella, in this case).  ***Check the date on your eggs ***  Add 1/2 to 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper & half a bag of chocolate chips.  For the normal: 1 batch of the duncs or 2 batches of the homemade, w/ 1/4 to 1 teaspoon cayenne & a quarter bag of chippies.
- Bake until a fork in the middle comes out dry (beware being fooled by stabbing the tester in a molten chocolate chip- test a few spots if needed.
- Let cool/hide in the pantry so your girlfriend doesn't see it/eat it.
- Decide it's prime cake time, get some friends to not-so-subtly drag GoH onto the dance floor, & solicit more friends (Thanks A & M !!!) to break most of a pack of Oreos (no, I an NOT being sponosred by Pinnacle Foods Inc. or Nabisco)  in half.
- Spread about a 1 inch border of white icing (I swear I will post recipes for vegan rice pudding & lentil soup to make up for all this processed fakery) around the outer edge of the cake.
- Starting closest to the pan rim, put in a row of Oreo halves, broken side down & end-to-end, lightly pushed in to the icing.  Make a second row just inside that row.
- Get more friends (they stick around because they know they get to eat what they help make) to help twist pieces of aluminum foil into narrow rods & arrange these "spoke-style" on the cake, pressing ends into the white icing. Put one whole Oreo, flat-side down, glued w/ some icing, on top of the spokes in the middle of the cake, as a hub of sorts.  (Is it called a hub?  She's the biker, I'm the baker.)
- Perhaps perch a small plastic bicycle & some blue candles on the cake.
-Light.  Sing.  Slice into wedges. 
-Glow while watching friends devour. Thank friends for their help. 
- Remember to always, always check the expiration date on your eggs.

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