Torta di pera e cioccolata

Torta de pera e cioccolateIt was -20C outside over most of the weekend and I just didn’t want to face it, so I baked. This week’s food section in the Ottawa Citizen featured “The rustic flavours of Florence” and I thought anything that gave even a small suggestion of Tuscany in this tundra-world I live in, might warm things up around here.
The cake they featured was a gorgeous thing called Torta di pera e cioccolata. Pears and chocolate. I had a couple of pears kicking around the house. Why not give it a try?
The challenge for me was there were no cup or teaspoon measurements in the directions. All weighed ingredients in either grams or ounces. So I pulled out the trusty scale and gave it a go. And I think it worked really well. It tasted great!
Recipe from the book: Florentine: The true cuisine of Florence by Emiko Davies (Hardie Grant, Chronicle Books, 2016).

Laughter & the love of friends

debras-cakeI came across this image in my files recently. It’s a cake I did over 20 years ago for a friend who knew she was dying and wanted to have a final goodbye party. While I visited her in hospital, she came upon the idea of getting a cake. Debra was a talented graphic designer and so the design of the cake became a project for her.
Back and forth we went with ideas (phone calls, it was an era before the internet). She wanted fruit. She wanted flowers. She wanted a saying. She spent many hours finding the right one and this is the one she decided upon.
I was fairly new to cake decorating at the time and was careful to get it right. The text was written on tracing paper, carefully transferred to fondant with pin pricks and then executed with dark brown buttercream.
When I brought the cake to her party, she was delighted with the results. At this point, Debra was weak so we all sat around her bedside, watching videos of her visit to South Africa when she was feeling fine. We ate cake and drank wine and said our goodbyes.
It was a sad occasion but I know that thinking about the cake gave Debra a focus for a few hours while in hospital. At the very least, I gave her that.

Conversation hearts

valentine-hearts-2017Since there were only two of us for dinner at Valentine’s, I thought this year I’d make a mini-dessert. I usually end up freezing my Valentine’s Day cake and it lasts forever. This year was different!
I cut heart shapes out of a half sheet cake from my largest heart cookie cutter, cut each one in half to make mini-layer cakes, iced ’em and covered ’em with fondant. Each cake had a saying just like the conversation heart candies, so classic this time of year. I kind of like how retro they are.
It was a perfect dessert for us. The mini-mini-heart cake was because I had a teeny bit of extra cake. Since my boyfriend and I share the same initials, I thought it was a fun touch.