Friday, August 27, 2010

Dessert so sweet, defeat so bitter or (get used to disappointment Cupcake)

As baking is one of my passions I decided to enter the company bake-off with what I knew would be a winner - my lemon bars. They are not too complicated and people just love them... however, as I discussed the competition with co-workers and competitors I began to get concerned that my winning lemon bars would be just too simple.

-Do you wanna win, Wolfe asked?

(as if he knew there was any point in asking a child whether or not he wanted a Christmas present)

-If you wanna win, make the toffee cheesecake.

-I guess I could.

-Sylvia has been talking about it for years. (Sylvia is Wolfe's mother)

-I was thinking lemon bars, but...

-Do you wanna win?

So I started thinking cheesecake. In Wolfe's defense the toffee cheesecake is a show stopper. It's a recipe I got off of (I only get recipes from there because they are rated. With over 100 cookbooks in my shelves, the only things I bake are from Epicurious because people will say if the recipe is good or bad or doesn't work or is too sweet ... no holds barred - you get the truth... an author selling cookbooks generally won't say, "This one doesn't usually work" or "looked pretty, but tasted like crap")... where was I?

Oh, the toffee cheesecake, from Epicurious... It's a cheesecake with a gingersnap crust, filling, rich with butter and brown sugar, coated in a layer of caramel and toffee. It is outstanding.

It was a three day process (if you don't count the days I spent buying cream cheese - you see I buy cream cheese when it's on sale because it's so expensive and it's a must for cheesecake. I keep a stock of it in the fridge just in case)... the first day I made the toffee and caramel sauce. The second day I made the cheesecake itself so it could age overnight in the fridge. And this morning I assembled it... Gorgeous! ***sigh*** A masterpiece!!! It was a doubled recipe in the largest springform pan known to man.

The crowds oooed and ahhed as I walked past them-caramel running over the sides of the cake carrying chunks of toffee like pieces of glacier. People begged for samples as I cut it into bite sized pieces for the judges. After the judges' portion was set aside the rest of the cake was put out for general consumption at the company picnic.

It was the only cake to be demolished and people came back to pick at the crust and the globs of caramel and cream cheese.

When the flies had settled on what was left over by all the other contestants, my plate was completely clean. I knew it would be...

...and as I sat at my desk, knowing full well that I would not even place, I was still very surprised that I didn't.

Nope, I didn't even place. The top two prizes went to box mixes with adders - I should have known. I have copies of all the cake mix doctor cookbooks and they are pretty good... but if I were judging a bake-off and saw a list of ingredients would I pick the cake that had "1 chocolate cake mix" right at the top of the recipe?

I admit it, I'm a snob. I am a dessert snob. Is that a crime?

At the end of the day did the judges go with what tasted best? Who knows. You will think that they did. But I tried all the competition and have to say that the desserts I thought were best were others that did not place - a carrot cake nearly as good as the one I make, a pecan pie cookie bar that was delightful, a banana cake that was light and scrumptious and Indian carrot dessert that was better than what I had previously tasted in my favorite restaurant...

maybe my taste buds are just so superior to the average shmo' who'd volunteer to be an office dessert contest judge (we all know the type), that I completely missed the boat.

-a fellow contestant smiled at me and said, we just need to try harder next year.

I sent a "Didn't win... or place" text to Cricket who felt bad and sent a simple frowney face back as support.

As I walked in the door Cricket greeted me with a drink,

-I'm sorry you didn't win. Are you disappointed?

-I am disappointed. But more than that I feel like I wasted all that cream cheese for nothing.

-Yeah, well, that cream cheese was way past expired. You should have thrown it away a year ago...

Some people know just what to say. ...and suddenly I wasn't even disappointed that I hadn't had a chance to taste my own entry.


wolfnj said...

It was fixed. How could a box mix win over your cheesecake. I want revenge.

Clay Doodles said...

Well! (can hear the indignance??) You'll just have to bake one so I can judge for myself that you should have won!!

dawng said...

I sooo enjoyed reading your story! I must admit I keep hoping for the recipes, but who am I kidding? You can see me with my youngest cooking together on my Facebook page and much to my chagrin, in the background my kitchen is very clearly a DISASTER! And yes, I posted it anyway! Well, I'm off! I'm sure there's a sinkful waiting for me...