It sounded so yummy… it was a little disappointing

It was the reading group’s late Christmas/New Year get together last night and my friends were coming here to our house. We each prepare something to share for a nice meal, so someone was bring quiche, someone cheese, then salads, fruit salad, various bottles of wine, and i was… well, what was I supposed to be doing? I confess, I couldn’t quite remember – I wrote a post here a little while ago about being absent minded, case in point! I am the person who reads the wrong book, or the right book for the wrong group, or who muddles the date… you get the picture, so I tried by subterfuge to find out what I might have offered to do/make/prepare/cook. I still don’t know what I had intended to do – in the event, I had lots of snacks to start with, hot and cold, veggie and not, I had filled potato skins (which are called potato boats apparently) a couple of bottles of wine and all the things like butter, dressings, etc

I mentioned I bought a coupe of cookery books at a second-hand charity bookshop, and one was on fridge cakes – no cook chilled ‘cakes’ which I thought would be a bit different and as they are only constructed not cooked I thought it would be easier. There were not that many ingredients, cream, mascarpone, sugar, speculaas biscuits, chocolate chips – and that was it! Simple recipe, whip cream, sugar and mascarpone, stir in choc chips, layer in a mould with the biscuits… Yes! I would do that!

I began to have doubts when I went shopping, but thought to myself that as it was the first time making it I should follow the recipe precisely. I did wonder whether double cream would be better than the specified whipping cream, but no – follow the recipe! At home I followed the instructions, whip the cream and the mascarpone together with the sugar… yes i did, and it was quite soft no matter how much I whipped it; perhaps that was how it was supposed to be.  I tasted it… and it tasted of cream, bland and inoffensive, but not very interesting. Maybe the biscuits and choc chips would make all the difference. I looked at the recipe for the size of dish and it said ‘gratin dish’ – well how big? How small? What size? It was supposed to turn out and be cut in slices so I found a dish which I thought would do. I stirred in the chocolate and began to layer the ‘cake’ and I had twice as many biscuits as i could possibly use, and even though I found a large-ish dish there was a lot of cream mix left over.

I was beginning to loose faith in what I was doing. I put it in the fridge and chilled it and then turned it out… It looked very uninteresting. I decided to crush the rest of the biscuits and coat the cake in the crumb and decorate with a few extra choc chips, which I did. It looked a little better but I wasn’t very impressed – the illustration in the books showed a slice in a bowl and now I looked at it, that didn’t look that amazing either. Family assured me it would be fine.

Friends arrived and much laughter, chat, wine, fun and we eventually sat round the table to eat. Someone had made a wonderful fruit salad and I’d thought my creamy speculaas fridge cake might go with it… People were very kind and did each have a spoonful, it was impossible to slice. I didn’t say I thought it was a failure, and although it wasn’t a disaster all it tasted of was speculaas and rather sickly bland sweet cream.

Note to self – next time, pay attention to the recipe but be guided by experience and common sense. Have a go at making it again but use double cream and or cram cheese or sour cream, something with a little acidity. Maybe flavour it with something like orange oil. Miss out the sugar, it is definitely not needed with the sweet biscuits, make half the quantity and maybe put it in the freezer for half an hour or so before serving!

PS Mascarpone is a thick, creamy, soft Italian cheese with a high fat content (40 per cent) … I will probably give it a miss in future

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