Posted by: njbrown | November 15, 2009

Chocolate Ruffles Revisited

November 15,  2009

Last Saturday morning, I was delighted to discover Baking with Julia being rebroadcast by our PBS station.  That day, the show focused on focaccia – something I have no intention to ever attempt.  (In my early years of cooking, I baked bread several times, and once when my best friend from college was visiting in the mid-70s, we stayed up most of the night working on croissants that we could have straight from the oven for breakfast.  That was the extent of my non-dessert baking outside of pastry class.)

This Saturday’s episode of Baking with Julia was the one on Chocolate Ruffle cake, and it seemed to be fate that the frustrating chocolate ruffles were being made before my eyes.  During the week, I’d returned to the PBS video of making the ruffles, and a .  I’d also found Alice Medrich’s  instructions from the Baking with Julia book that included vital details such as the exact position of your hands, the angle of the spatula, and the softness of the chocolate that hadn’t been evident from the show  So, once again, I went about melting chocolate, warming the inverted baking sheet, spreading the chocolate, cooling the chocolate, and then finally – having let it cool far longer than in the past – taking it out of the refrigerator to bring it to the proper temperature.  Amazingly, this time ruffles formed – not perfect ones, but far more like the desired result than my previous attempts had produced.

The interesting thing to me is that the “ruffles” are more like small fans that are placed next to each other around the cake in concentric circles to give the impression of continuous ruffles.  The technique I’d learned years ago involved using a four-inch putty knife and scraping away from you rather than toward you.  The resulting ruffles were longer pieces.  I do hope Jacques Torres’ book that is on my Christmas list will refresh my memory so that I can do these again.

I said to George that it is pathetic that my worth as a human being rests on my ability to achieve chocolate ruffles.  This, of course, is hyperbole, but it is very satisfying to learn a new skill at my age.  It is also very nice to focus on small challenges rather than the much larger ones my “day job” entails.  Another blogger has said that she finds cooking “therapeutic.”  So many years ago, it was anything but that for me, but now most of the time it is.



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