I get it. You don’t perm your hair the day of prom, wear new shoes to run a marathon, or apply self-tanner before a job interview.
But during a brief bout of dementia, I thought it would be a good idea to try out a new dessert for my dinner party. First, you must realize that I host dinner parties about as often as I remember to remove the hair from the shower drain. Second, my idea of a no-fail dessert is canned fruit cocktail drenched in chocolate syrup. But that’s not going to fly with this group. One of my guests, Nicole, whipped up a French boeuf bourguignon something-or-other for her last party. The sauce alone was so delicious that I poured myself a bowl.
“It’s not soup, Andrea.”
“Hell it’s not.”
Because this is what I’m up against, I hope to flex a little Southern muscle on Nicole’s thin, Frenchy frame. I choose Paula’s Frozen Chocolate Mousse Pie because the only thing better than one of Paula’s butter-infused dishes, is a chocolate one. And this recipe takes it up a notch by adding cream, sugar and liqueur (basically, my Last Meal).
I read over the directions and prophesized, “This is going to be easy.” To which my husband responds, “Your confidence will be your undoing.” (Can all men do a Luke Skywalker impersonation?)
A minute later I’m picking up broken pieces of frozen piecrust from the floor, cursing said husband.
Once I rebuild the piecrust, I crack open the chocolate liqueur, dribble a little onto the chocolate chips, and then pour more than that into my coffee. It can’t hurt, right?
Shortly thereafter, I’m scraping burnt chocolate from the bottom of a saucepan as my 4-year-old daughter stands on a stool next to me dipping her fingers in the char-free remains. She feverishly licks her hands and I think I see her eyeballs shake.
“Mommy, it’s so good I can’t stop eating it!” Addictive personalities run in our family.
In her sugared state, she attempts a grand jette from her perch, spilling all but a tablespoon of the vanilla extract onto the floor. I dump what’s left into the pie filling even though the recipe only calls for one teaspoon.
Moving on, Paula says to whip the cream “as if you are making whipped cream,” which probably means something to someone who has made whipped cream before. I turn the mixer on “high” and beat the hell out of two pints of cream, hoping that this equals one quart (I stopped caring somewhere around my third “coffee.”) After five minutes of trying to control the tornado that is my hand mixer, soft peaks begin to form. I pause to make an appointment to have my kitchen repainted.
Hours later, I humbly present the dessert to my dinner guests. They are good friends, but lousy liars, which makes it all the more difficult to watch them surgically dissect the pie with their forks as I await the verdict.
Eventually someone breaks the silence. “Are there coffee grounds in this?”
They collectively agree that there’s something gritty going on. The vanilla is a bit overpowering, and they suggest letting the pie thaw a few minutes to avoid the obvious frost problem.
As one guest excuses himself to check his insulin levels (maybe the candy-bar topping was overkill), I start to feel a personal rain cloud form above my head. I wistfully hope that someone will throw me a damn bone.
Instead, Frenchy’s husband offers me this: “It’s like ‘Gilligan’s Island.’ You know they’re never going to get off the island, but it’s sure fun watching them try.”
Food Editor’s Note: Andrea…I don’t know what to say. You have good friends.
Andrea Goto lives and writes in Savannah, Georgia. Her kitchen experiments (known as “cooking” in more conventional homes) most often end with a mushroom cloud of smoke or a call to Poison Control. In spite of this, she’s deeply loved by her husband who prefers neon-colored cereals to all foods homemade, and her 3-year-old daughter who will eat almost anything, as long as you call it “chicken.” Need more Andrea? Follow her at www.andreagoto.com.
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Join Paula at DuBois Furniture in Waco, TX for a book signing and meet and greet from 10:30 am to 1:30 pm.
Come see Paula’s live show at the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center in Charlotte, NC and get a heaping helping of Paula’s recipes, and some good old-fashioned fun and laughter!
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