Friday, March 14, 2014

Are There Desserts that aren't Chocolate?

I think I've done it, I think I've finally made myself sick of chocolate.  The last bunch of desserts I made have been heavily, richly, decadently chocolate filled (with the exception of one I didn't eat much of) and so non-chocolate items have been catching my eye lately.

I feel like a traitor.

It's not that I would ever turn down a lava cake if you put one in front of me, believe me.

I just don't feel like going through the process of baking with chocolate: setting up a double boiler, having those extra pots and bowls to clean, spooning large quantities of cocoa powder out of a container that's definitely not made for that purpose and ending up spilling it everywhere, getting out the scale to weigh amounts... it's just a lot of work.  And it's normally worth it, but I just want to try something different for once.

These are the three recipes I have my eye on for this weekend:

1.  Spiked Rice Krispie Treat Shake Shooters from How Sweet It Is

photo via how sweet it is

I have been into Rice Krispie treats so much ever since I got one from The Crispery in my PopSugar Must Have box for October, so my eyes lit up when I saw this.  I also love boozy milkshakes, so this is really just the perfect combo for me.  The major downside (or maybe upside, depending on whether or not you're my doctor): I can't just eat them all in one sitting and really enjoy them because they're so small and I'd feel super guilty if someone walked in and saw me sitting on the couch, TV remote in hand, with six empty shotglasses next to my feet on the coffee table.

The summer before my freshman year at NYU, during Orientation Week when we all came in for 3 days to ostensibly map out our futures but really just pick out whatever classes sounded cool, my orientation leader took me to Magnolia Cupcakes.  I had never had a gourmet cupcake before, just the ones from supermarkets and bakeries that sat in the cases for days and the ones I hastily made using boxed mix and canned frosting for basketball team bake sales.  I was so not prepared for what I bit into - this cupcake was absolutely heavenly.  The vanilla cake was moist and the vanilla buttercream tasted like butter and vanilla and it was just the right amount of sickeningly sweet and the texture, it was just so different and so much more substantial than anything I ever had before.  The chocolate buttercream tasted like actual chocolate!  It was incredibly and truly a life changing experience, probably even more than orientation itself was (my priorities were fucked).  I remember I went back the next night to get one to bring home to my mom because I thought she just had to try these, and she loved them as much as me and even bought me the magnolia cookbook the next Christmas.

Anyway, looking at these cupcakes takes me back to the way I felt when I took that first bite of a good, homemade cupcake.  They look perfect and they make me feel happy inside and even though they may not compare to that Magnolia recipe, they sound like they'll be excellent in their own right (plus, they use vanilla bean paste, so how bad could it be?). 

photo via Sublime Sweets

My job is located in something of a desert if you like decent food.  The few things that aren't chains or fast food are generally pretty bad, and those that are good are also obscenely and extravagantly expensive.  Going out for dinner after work with a friend and faced with these options, we chose The Grand Lux Cafe, a chain derivative of The Cheesecake Factory (and they have basically the same menu and exact same decor so I don't get why they're different) at a mall nearby.  Typically here I order my favorite dessert which is an oversized slice of super chocolatey fudge cake, but since I was splitting with someone else I let him decide.  He picked out something called "Warm Butter Cake".  It sounded like a vanilla lava cake so I agreed.

It was so good that I might feel tortured about which to get the next time I go.  It was so buttery and heavenly and went down so well with vanilla ice cream and whipped cream that by the time I was done with my half, I wanted to sneak my fork over and into his (I didn't of course).  The edges were chewy and somewhat crisp, almost like a chocolate chip cookie, and the middle was warm and gooey and oozing with buttery vanilla flavor.  This recipe is imitating a cake from a restaurant in California but I have a feeling it's going to end up tasting the same.  Even if it's just a little bit close, I'll be ecstatic.

So what to do?  I'm trying not to eat much dessert but I am a firm believer in indulging once in a while because otherwise I'd go crazy and just be in a bad mood all the time.  There was a time I ate dessert always, even eating ice cream for dinner, and never once had to worry about my weight.  I never thought I'd say it but I miss the stress of college, at least it kept me from needing to diet.

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