I turned on my laptop for the first time in months the other day. It's a bit of a dinosaur. Slow and clunky seems to be her favorite mode of operation - hence my avoidance for so long. So, I've been using the family PC for quite awhile now and made a disappointing discovery when I fired up the laptop and took a look at my blog through her screen... as it turns out, depending on the type of screen a blog is viewed on, you will have two very different blogs to looks at.
The laptop is a widescreen, the PC a standard.When I switched my blog design to accommodate larger photos a little while back, it was done on my PC and everything looked peachy keen (aside from the wonkiness of the archives, but I already claimed defeat there, no way am I reformatting 4 years worth of posts). Then, on my widescreen laptop... what a mess! The banner does not reach the full length of the page, the text trails on and on across the screen forcing you to trace the sentence with your finger in order to keep your place. On the standard screen, the text nestles in under the larger photos nice and neat. Unfortunately, it's a mess on the widescreen, I'm sorry to those of you that have been viewing it this way. I will hopefully find some time over the next few days to fiddle with it. I know this isn't something one really needs to feel apologetic for, but I am a Virgo after all, symmetry sustains me.
Basically, I'm writing this just to say; if you've thought my blog layout has been intolerable for a month or so, it was not my intention. I didn't know! Disdain for this blog's design prior to that however... well, that's another story. ;)
In hopes of keeping this post from going down as the most boring in blog history (seriously, I just wrote two paragraphs about my blog's layout)... have you seen what Miss Swallowfield just posted on flickr? Now that is inspiring. Love.
For Emily's 13th birthday last week, I made her an ice cream cake. Exactly as she requested. She also asked for no special fanfare on this particular day. We stayed true to our birthday tradition of giving her a few simple gifts as she rose in the morning, then enjoyed a slow and quiet day together. This year gifts included the beginnings of her own Black Apple collection (two more were under the tree Christmas morning).
There were fresh flowers. There are always fresh flowers in Emily's world. In the winter months she spends her allowance money almost weekly on a bouquet from the market. Years ago I thought this was so impractical, but seeing the true joy they bring her is impossible to deny. I'm totally converted now.
There was also a visit from extended family and her best friend. And of course, there was cake. The cake is really what I wanted to talk about this morning (because really, how does a mother ever find the proper words to discuss her daughter's 13th birthday!?). So, about the cake...
I've only made an ice cream cake once before, it was at least seven years ago. If I'm remembering correctly, it was more of a turtle pie than traditional, stacked and layered ice cream cake. It was so sticky and delicious.
Here is a simple breakdown of this year's ice cream cake:
The ganache filling, layered twice - made as recipe states, I just wanted to mention it because I thought the method of bringing the cream to a boil, pouring it over the chocolate chips, letting it sit for 2 minutes, then stirring (used a tiny whisk), was really cool. I've never done that before (keeping the chocolate off the stove altogether). It worked so well!
All in all, this was a wonderful (very easy to make) cake. I will happily make it again - but, it got me thinking about a couple of different flavor combinations I'm curious to try.
Strawberry ice cream.
Vanilla cookies for the crunch layer.
There should be sliced fresh strawberries somewhere in there.
Vanilla custard instead of chocolate ganache. I wonder how this would work frozen as the top layer. I think it would be fine in the center layer, sort of a semi-frozen custard, but the top...hmm?
Oh wait! What if I made a strawberry glaze with a little pureed strawberry, honey, and cornstarch. That could be used as the very top thin layer (which is actually the bottom as you make it - it's an upside down cake). Then the first layer of custard and so on. Yes, I think the strawberry glaze would give it a pretty top.
Not bad sounding, eh? The next combination I'd like to create is:
Thinking of the glaze layer mentioned above, would a similar glaze be appreciated here? I'm thinking raspberry.
If you are interested, the lemon curd and vanilla custard recipes I always use come from this book. That's quite a title! I really have no business carrying on about the many ways to recreate an ice cream cake this morning, especially after yesterday's confession. To redeem myself a bit, we did have brown rice piled with veg for dinner last night. I mostly follow a 90/10 style of eating. 90% is well and good... 10% free to choose and indulge. This makes sense to me.
There were certainly no complaints about this years combination. It went down a little too easily actually, as you can tell by my lingering attention on the darn thing. It's going to be awhile before another is made, but I'm glad I wrote down a few notes here for variations to try in the future.
I'm wondering... is Valentines Day too soon to revisit such richness?
My husband pointed out that dessert plates were represented with a showing of 2 to 1 against dinner plates in our dishwasher the other night... why do those lawyer types have to be so hung up on pesky details?
I suppose it is time to push aside the leftover banana cream pie, birthday cake, and peppermint bark for a more sensible intake of fresh food that actually grew. Ah, but it was so good while it lasted.
I think we'll be doubling up on green smoothies for a few days... that should take care of it.
Our favorite part of the holidays... made even better by our first true snow storm of the year. It started falling late this morning and will continue through tomorrow afternoon. Nearly 20 inches is expected which sounds just fine to us. Wishing each of you a long and complete exhale as you enjoy the quiet space between this weekend and next.