08 November 2008

Sugar, sugar

'Tis the season for all the fa-la-la-la-la to get started. I've already gotten my instructions for the neighborhood progressive dinner, and this year...I make dessert.

Which is a little too bad because it means that I can't serve up the artichoke dip that I can almost make in my sleep. It's very simple, very rich and very good; it also disappears instantly.

I've been thumbing through my old dessert recipes to see what sounds reasonable. I have a great flourless chocolate cake that I've made for years, but it seems so...1987. And usually 3/4 of the desserts are completely chocolate anyway. Last year, I think R.'s Haupia Cake was the only non-chocolate dessert.

I don't remember how many years it's been since I've done dessert for the party. I know that in two of the intervening years, I hosted it, so all I supplied then was the alcohol (8 bottles of wine and untold gallons of cocktails) and the house. I do remember what I made the last time I was assigned dessert: traditional English trifle in my enormous crystal punch bowl.

(I have a thing for complication. I've made real plum pudding, and I've made traditional mincemeat...with the meat. Usually, I only have to do something like this once to convince myself that I don't need to do it again. I also have a thing about not poisoning my neighbors, so there are some things I won't make, like custard pies with uncooked eggs. Of course, the rum cream pie that I used to make probably has enough rum in it to sanitize anything.)

I was rather taken with the whole concept of fairy cakes when we were in London. Some place we stopped to get water had lovely ones, and yes, I know they're only vanilla cupcakes, but these were so pretty, and they looked so good (and I'll probably forever regret not buying a few). But let's face it: cupcakes are so 2007.

(I could do frosting shots! I couldn't believe it when I read about bakeries offering those. I make wicked buttercream frosting. However, I have a thing about my neighbors' health. I make frosting with butter. Lots of butter. And sugar. Even more sugar. Seriously, we're talking instant heart attack in a glass. Still. It would be so easy...)

One of my best desserts ever for the holidays is...I dread even saying it...fruitcake. Now, this isn't the enormous brick of nasty fruit and suspect liquor that so many hold, uh, dear. You know, that scary stuff with enormous chunks of preserved pineapple (preserved in what is the question. Formaldehyde, I suspect). This is actually called Kentucky Whisky Cake. It's a light fruitcake with minimal fruit and some lovely pecans and a bottle bourbon. And a lot of butter and sugar (but you guessed that part, right?). Anyway, it's delicious, and I'm always loathe to share it when I make it because the relative cost is about the same as a bar of gold, especially if you factor in the amount of time it takes to put the thing together.

Finally, whilst hunting, I came across a recipe for Dulce de Leche and Chocolate Chunk Bread Pudding. Hmmm. Sounds like it might be perfect.

But, of course, I need to try it out first.

Go listen to some good music: "Sugar, Sugar" from the album The Archies by The Archies.


Uh-oh. The spouse had never heard of frosting shots. He loves the idea. Green and red buttercream and a few glasses of chocolate buttercream for good measure. Uh-oh...

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