I went over to the Fine Cooking web site to peek at the reviews of my dessert recipes in the August/September issue of the magazine. I was pleased to see that the chocolate mousse pie got six stellar five-star reviews. (Although I did get one angry email telling me it sucked and he could do better with one hand tied behind his back. To which I replied, go ahead. What's stopping you? I'm not the chocolate mousse enforcer!)
Then I jumped over to the blackberry lime dulce de leche terrine. Two five-star reviews. Woohoo, I'm getting pretty good at this, I thought! So I clicked over to the peach almond icebox cake recipe. And then I wanted to die.
You can read the scathing comment here, but basically the reviewer hated everything about it. She threw it out, people. Into the trash!
I know people have different tastes and, therefore, it's impossible to please everyone, but I always feel badly when a recipe disappoints. Ingredients are expensive and time is precious. I want people to love it. I want them to love the recipe and, therefore, love me. If someone hates the recipe, then I start wondering if maybe they're right. Maybe I've lost the ability to discern pleasing flavors and textures from repulsive ones. Because peaches and cream are always good together. Always. How the hell can you ruin peaches and cream to the point of inedibility?
Then I go outside and take a deep breath and remember the plight of the polar bears. Not everyone has to like my stupid cake, for crying out loud. I better toughen up before I go writing any more books.
So now that we've learned that Tammy doesn't like criticism of any kind (this is not news to Husband), let me concede one point to the reviewer. She said the recipe needed some almond extract. There was a long list of other things she thought it needed, too (mostly a time machine to bring her back to the period before this cake ever existed), but I'll at least concede the almond extract. My original recipe called for 3/4 of a teaspoon, but there was much discussion in the FC test kitchen about the strong feelings people have about almond extract. Some people love it and want to bathe in it (me!). Other people hate it with every fiber of their being. It seems to be a 50/50 split. I understand the divisiveness because that's how I feel about horrible, horrible coconut extract. I mean, you can't even compare the two. Horrible coconut extract isn't even in the same league as the heavenly elixir that is almond extract, but it just seems like a similar phenomenon. Regardless, the almond extract was axed and I was sad.
I mention this so you guys can make your own choice: add back the almond extract if you happen to like it or keep it out if you don't. And if you're going to use the almond extract, then you don't need to use almond cookies for the layers. I'm sure they're good, but that's not what I used. I used Biscoff speculoos instead, which added a nice gentle spice flavor. I really liked that version of the cake. Maybe not for a wedding, but, you know, certainly for a backyard barbecue.
Hopefully those tweaks will bump the recipe's rating up to at least three stars. Maybe four. But if not, I guess you can't win 'em all.