Wednesday, February 05, 2020

Love, Failure and a Chocolate Torte

Last year's house blessing I made brownies for dessert, and
brought French Vanilla Ice Cream as well.
The brownies were from a box (a good box as boxes go).
I remember that I was tired and that this was really the only thing I could do
that year...and it was good...however...
I remember thinking that next year, I will make that chocolate torte
I made the year before and was so enjoyed for this meal.
And so this year, for our 2020 house blessing, when our priest comes over to 
do prayers of blessing for our home, I set out to make the most 
decadent (and costly!) dessert that I had ever made.
Strangely I did not have a record of my baking it, I must have just been really busy
and never got to it. 
Well, I used the best bittersweet chocolate I know of:
Belgian Callebaut Bittersweet Chocolate. 

I got it down to the needed 12 ounces and prepared it for the torte.

My food processor bowl is really small so I had to HALF the recipe,
the hardest part was figuring out half of 3/4 cup boiling water.
I ended up eye-balling it. 
The Chambord raspberry liqueur is super fancy and the bottle 
is very pretty.  (Side note, I need to figure out other things to bake with this!
we don't drink much and to me this is a treat to use in treats!)
The recipe I am using is from this holiday (AKA Christmas!!!) cookbook.

So, I managed to get the torte batter done but...
got rather worried when I realized that I would not be able to go to vespers 
and baking this... I texted a friend  -- can I put this in the fridge? and then
called my local priest's wife, saying I don't know who else to call, I am 
in the middle of creating this chocolate torte and can't go to vespers unless I put it
in the fridge would that be OK/will the torte be OK if I do so? it's for 
tomorrow's house blessing, our other priest is coming and what do I do?!?
The consensus was YES, I can put it the fridge...
there as a bit of discussion towards 'can she keep it out or does it need to be 
in the fridge?' the end, she and those with her said 'put it in the fridge'. 
And so I did.

And I went to church and then out to eat with my friend Photini, 
Mr Husband wishing to just go back home.
I was back so fast it surprised him!
And I went back to work on the torte.... 

I went home, got it out, and went right to work.
Heated up the oven, poured the batter out, baked it the needed 50-55 minutes and...
the torte seemed much to 'wiggly' in the middle.
The cookbook said it is done when the top looks moist and the centre 
is JUST set.  But jiggling torte? I was so unsure.
I baked it longer.  The sides did not get puffy and crack.
What do I do?
My Husband was worried I would burn it.
Well. I took it out and the top was dry. 
Did I over bake it?
I hoped for the best, believed the best and after it set out for 30 minutes, 
on a cooling wrack, I covered it and put it in the fridge - not for the 2 hours it
recommended (while saying it could be refrigerated for 2 days) but until the next afternoon. 
It was Saturday night after all.
I had Sunday liturgy to go to. And go we did, to our far away church and back.
We left early as I had more to do with our house blessing prep and I had not slept well. 
Well. I had too much to do to nap, as much I wanted to do just that. 

I was really excited about the chocolate torte! 
I took it out, feeling all excited and like this was the big moment,
unveiling of the decadent liqueur filled Belgian Chocolate torte!  
And, may I add, with good unsalted butter and 6 of the best eggs I 
have found to buy (good golden orange yokes!)
And I uncovered, it, flipped it from the plate it was resting on,
on to the beautiful cake stand that we got as a wedding gift 
AND I was so shocked I just stared. 

 I am amazed I did not gasp.
Inside (maybe outside?) I was already wailing.
My beautiful chocolate torte that I spent so much time making
RUINED.  Bottom SOGGY.  Butter clearly visible.
And it's after 4:30 I have no time to make something new for dessert
and that is what I was bringing to the meal 
and I was so upset and quickly reverted the torte to the plate
and placed it inverted back on the cake stand, so at least the soggy 
bottom that was supposed to be the top was hidden. 
But I was just SO deeply disappointed.  

And I was really tired. 
I managed to make the whipped cream, with more of the liqueur and a bit
of white sugar, cleaned up the mess of the torte pan and mixing bowl
in the sink, I was down to my last 10 minutes and was hoping to get to 
light my lampada lamps by the icons,
really I was a good hour behind... 
(if you remember that past week, last week, was super busy for me,
with seeing L on Monday and Wednesday, NYC all day Tuesday,
and making chicken soup to give L on Wednesday yet that morning etc)...
it was amazing I was not MORE behind....
And then, really quite miraculously, our priest arrived early. 
I had a ruined torte and no candles lit, my Oma's candle-holder that I use EVERY year
gone missing, my lampadas unlit.
I was rather upset to be honest and it is a testimony to the kindness and friendship
with our priest and his wife that they were so patient and understanding.
I never felt so rattled... it just was not proper in my book,
not to have my icon lamps gleaming, waiting for their annual blessing,
and my torte in soggy shambles.  
Really.  I was most upset. 
However, my Husband encouraged me to use the two candles from our table,
our house was blessed, and that was a blessing if there ever is one!
(and there IS and this WAS!)...

And our house was blessed, prayed over and holy water flying in blessing 
to the walls, to our home...blessing.... 
and then we all went to our dear friends house,
I with torte, whipped cream and Trader Joes ice cream sandwiches for the young
lady (our friend's daughter) all in hand.  Mr Husband carried them all. 

The meal was delicious, the conversation meandering and of great interest...
as it always is....
(And earlier I had already bewailed my soggy bottomed torte
to my friend, the Mother of the young lady, who, upon asking more,
said it was probably this way because I did not let the batter 
warm back up to room temp after I had it in the fridge...)

And my soggy bottomed torte? 
My priest said most sincerely, Elizabeth this is good 
and I was not able to finish my piece,
in part because it was actually richer than my system can take,
sadly and that was that.
Except that it was not.
When we got back to our house, I, as I always am every year, am shocked by
how clean it feels when I open our door.
The house blessing always makes the newly cleaned home feel like it really
had a holy cleaning, a true airing and healing. 
Well, I woke up the next Morning feeling, to be honest, quite sad.
I was really sad that my torte did not work out, I had worked on it for hours. 
When I got to my phone, my Husband had already chatted me:
my co-workers want to try your torte.
Later, my team all wants to try your torte.
I felt comforted...a little less sad...
When my Husband came home that night, the first thing he did was
have another slice of the torte, with the whipped cream,
before dinner 
(he likes to have sweets early, done by 7 PM
 as they can interfere with his sleep).
He kept telling me that it was still very good.
And he packed up the rest to take to work the next day.

Tuesday morning we went into NYC together; I got off one stop farther than his
and went to one of my favourite NYC diners near the Trader Joes and also
Michael's Craft Store.

Later I went to my library, having walked parts of Manhattan for 
subway stations and such.... 

By mid-morning he was chatting me:
my colleagues like your torte. 
My teammate (X) likes your torte and sends his compliments.
And THEN: 
My colleague who studied cooking in France 
and worked in a French bakery, said your torte and cream were amazing.
And you know what?
My Husband never told ANY of them that I felt so defeated by it.
That it has a SOGGY bottom with butter SHOWING. 
That I felt like I failed.
He told them
my wife made this amazing torte with 12 ounces of Belgian chocolate,
3 sticks of butter and 6 eggs!
And that, my friends, is the story of the chocolate torte
that I made for our 2020 house blessing, 
the story of my Husband's determination
to show me that I did not fail, 
and more over, showed to me, again,
 my Husband's great kindness....  
And this, then, is my story of
love, failure and a chocolate torte.


(Edited to add:) Post Script ~ all of this happened today, February 6, 2020:

My Husband chatted me that his colleague (X) stopped by his desk hoping there was still some chocolate torte to eat.

My Grandma, when I told her the (above) story and how my Husband was so determined to show me that I had not failed, told me: 'Honey, that is what true love looks like'  

My Husband, saying good night to me (I often stay up later) said, 'So, your Grandma finally told you the truth about me' :) 


Emily H. said...

What a beautiful story! And what a good husband you have!

Elizabethd said...

Not a failure Elizabeth! Chocolate tortes, brownies and cakes ofteb have a bottom that looks soggy but still tastes amazing! Yours was a great success.
Whenever we have moved to a new huse we have always had it blessed.

Becki said...

What a good story, Elizabeth. It makes me wonder how many dishes we enjoy today were actually sprung from failures (certainly departures) from other recipes? I'm glad you're feeling better already. Take heart - this will surely be a treasured (possibly even funny) story for you in a few years.

Lisa Richards said...

Great story! You are very much like me in how you worry too much about every detail. And you seem to drive yourself mercilessly with your busy schedule. Is it possible to simplify things? Just a suggestion from a friend. Anxiety can really take a lot out of us. I know from experience, lol. Take care of yourself! I was proud of you that you actually went through with serving the torte. I would have run to the bakery for something to replace it! :) (I'm such a chicken, and I care too much about what people think. Like I said, I'm experienced at anxiety! I don't want it in my life!) May your blessed house be filled with the Peace of the Lord!

Mila said...

Elizabeth, I completely understand how upsetting and frustrating this was for you, having experienced the same many times myself when my baking or cooking projects did not turn out as expected. I read the recipe for this torte in one your photos of the recipe book, it has no flour and a ton of butter, chocolate, and eggs. It sounds more like it’s meant to be more of a thick mousse consistency rather than a sliceable cake. That is to say, I don’t think you did anything wrong, it’s just the way the recipe is written.

Granny Marigold said...

I'm sorry your chocolate torte was not up to your standards and that you were rushed and didn't get all the prep done for the blessing of your home. But it seems all turned out well in the end.

GretchenJoanna said...

Did you just avoid giving anyone the soggy part? Or maybe that part was good, too :-) Often the baked goods that don't *look* great, taste wonderful!

I've put my own house blessing off as long as possible, in hopes that my rooms might be more put back together. So just before Lent, ready-or-not, it will be blessed, no matter how chaotic and unready it all is. Lord, have mercy!

Lisa said...

Well, I guess this proves that you can't judge a book by its cover. It looked a disaster to you, but the flavor was still there! Amazing story. And your husband was so kind through it all.

elizabeth said...

Thank you everyone!!!

G-J: I served it as is, soggy bottom and all! It is true that this is not a dessert that is meant to be 'stiff' but I also know it was supposed to congeal better. It really is a story of love, acceptance and that things were not as bad as they seemed/looked!!