My dad recently celebrated one. We won’t go into the specifics of his age, but according to my calculations, it would be somewhere in the ballpark of the seventies. Right, Dad?
Anyway, his cake of choice is chocolate mousse cake. Not the kind with a thin layer of chocolate mousse sandwiched between two slabs of chocolate cake, but the kind with chocolate mousse sandwiched between even more mousse. I make it for his birthday, and then, for the remaining 364 days of the year, I get to listen to him complain about how long it’s been since he’s had a chocolate mousse cake. So I nearly went into shock when he asked for the recipe.
I was immediately suspicious. Was he planning to start a rival blog with all the same recipes interspersed with embarrassing pictures and factoids from my awkward adolescence? Because he damn sure wasn’t actually going to make the cake. Was he?
Yes, he was. So smitten by chocolate moussiness was he that he was willing, at least temporarily, to shed his unapologetic bachelor ways to don a frilly apron instead. I could hardly believe my ears. But I had to change my tune from incredulousness to supportiveness pretty quickly because this was my ticket to some peace and quiet for a change. So, I sprinted up the stairs to print out the recipe.
When I returned:
Dad: The only thing is, I don’t have a cake pan.
Me: Here, take mine. Take all of them.
Me: Do you need spatulas, too?
(Later, over the phone.)
Dad: And what does it mean to fold the chocolate into the whipped cream?
Me: blah, blah, blah, blabbity blah…blah, blah, blah.
(It doesn’t matter what I said here because it made no sense to me or anyone else. There’s no way to explain good folding technique over the phone, especially to a scientist. I tried using sundial analogies, orbiting planet terminology, nothing was getting through. So, I gave up and said gently stir. Just try to keep the cream whipped.)
Dad: Okay. But, I don’t have an electric mixer, so I’ll just use the blender.
Me: Wait a minute. Hold the phone. You can’t use a blender.
Me: Because you’ll overwhip the cream. You’ll get butter.
Dad: Well, I’m not buying a mixer.
Me: They cost like $20.
Dad: But then I’d have to leave the house and spend money, both at the same time. I didn’t semi-retire so I could go on wild shopping sprees like some kind of a girl (he didn’t actually say this, but I know what he was thinking).
Me: You could use a whisk?
Dad: Forget it. I’m using a blender.
Me: All righty. Have fun with that.
To make a long story still too long, he didn’t end up with butter, but judging by the volume of the whipped cream, there wasn’t nearly enough air in there. He said there were stiff peaks, but I don’t think he knew what I meant. Compared to what? The original unwhipped cream? What was supposed to be a three-inch high cake was maybe an inch high. In case you’ve ever wondered, don’t use a blender to whip cream.
Still, it was a valiant first attempt. I thought I’d lose him at the cookie crumb crust. He powered through and the cake was edible. For his second attempt, he did finally decide to spring for the mixer after coming to the realization that an Andrew Jackson was a small price to pay for a lifetime supply of chocolate mousse. Armed with the proper technology, he was rewarded with a two-inch-high cake. Go, Dad! I have high hopes that once we work on his folding technique, he’ll find himself with a soaring velveteen chocolate mousse worthy of a guest appearance on my very prestigious blog.
Next stop, baklava.