Monday, October 30, 2006

The Birthday Curse

For the last few years, I have been asked to bake b-day treats for everyone in my family. I’m not sure if it’s because they like my cooking, or if they’d feel bad because I wouldn’t be able to share in the traditional non-vegan fare that would otherwise be served…hmm.

It’s bad enough that poor Tracy has to turn another year older, but I have to add insult to injury when I’m asked to make her a b-day cake. One year, Tracy asked me to make a carrot cake with cream cheeze icing. My creation? The cake was totally soggy, and the icing soaked into the cake (I swear I iced the cake when it was cooled). It was so sickly sweet and despite their best efforts, no one could eat it. I felt awful. Since then, I have gathered about a million carrot cake recipes and will one day perfect a recipe to give Tracy the perfect carrot birthday cake with a hope to break the curse.

Until she trusts me again with carrot cakes, Tracy has submitted requests for non-carrot related fare. This year, she asked for the same peanut butter-chocolate-maple syrup mousse pie that I had made for Princess’s b-day earlier this year. Perfect, I thought – I had already made this, and it turned out great. I’m safe! Then, Tracy managed to snag a copy of Vegan with a Vengeance from the library. She changed her mind, and instead wanted the No-Bake Black-Bottomed Chocolate Silk-Peanut Butter Pie. No sweat, I thought casually. That was until I read the ingredient that is known as my nemesis: Agar. No matter what I do, the agar just never works. I don’t even know what it’s supposed to do. So I became nervous, and as the days went by and Tracy’s b-day crept closer and closer, I began to dread the creation. And it didn’t help that I read about an unsuccessful venture on the PPK’s forums.

So I set out to make the pie tonight, so that in case my agar didn’t gel, I’d have time tomorrow night in between trick-or-treaters to make something else instead. I made the graham crust, spread the ganache, whipped the peanut butter-tofu mixture…then came the agar part. I whisked the boiling agar for a good 13 minutes (just to be sure it cooked or dissolved, or whatever), and then measured it in the measuring cup. ½ cup!!! The recipe said that it should have boiled down to 1/3 cup!!! I decided to take my chances, and added the remaining ½ cup liquid to the peanut butter mixture. I was so nervous about the whole agar thing, that I had inadvertently used the last choice (soymilk) instead of the planned second choice (soy creamer). Despite that slight mishap, it looks like everything turned out OK:

Tracy – I know that you will see this before Wednesday night…but I purposely wanted to post this pic in advance just in case my house blows up before then, and you would know that your b-day treat seemed OK at one point in time :) Now I just hope that each slice comes out nicely…stay tuned.


Anonymous said...

Wow, that pie is beautiful!

Tracy said...

It looks delicious! And beautiful! I can't wait to eat it (but could totally avoid the whole turning-a-year-older thing).