Cake or Death: Sleep No More Part 2

Greetings, my sleepy readers.

There are many reasons to rejoice this week.  First off is this intense exploration of madness, courtesy of the magical Katelan Foisy.  For 40 days, Katelan chronicles her descent into the abyss.  She offers a sharp insight into the spirals of the mind, with a sense of self and perspective that few artsist offer.  Check it out, I implore you.

Reason to rejoice #2!  The good people at Sleep No More NYC were so entranced by the chocolate peanut-butter goodness I whipped up for them last week, they have given me an open invitation to make them cake whenever I wish.  It’s a gosh-darn pleasure and an honor for the hottest theater ticket in town to be clamoring for my late-night treats.

Butter, sugar. No big whup.

I honestly feel guilty taking praise for my various sweetlings.  There’s not a great level of difficulty involved in my baking-related adventures in the twilight.  It’s not like I’m concocting glacés or sugar sculptures, I just do enough research to ensure that the recipes I make involve an awful lot of fat, sugar, and chocolate.

For this week’s experiment, I did throw in a wildcard– buttermilk.  This oft-maligned sour stuff will make your biscuits toothsome and your breads fluffy and delicious.  If you truly love yourself, you will make yourself some Buttermilk Honey Bread (recipe from The Comfort of Cooking).   When The Ex died, I immediately hopped on a bus home so that my mother could take care of me for the weekend.  In between bouts of weeping and staring numbly out the window, I made dinner rolls out of this dough.  They were soft, yielding, slightly sweet, and deliciously comforting.

I miss him a lot.  My life has been in upheaval for a number of reasons outside of this tragedy over the past many weeks, but gosh, kids.  I miss him a lot.

Since that weekend, I’ve been yearning to bring more buttermilk into my kitchen.  I found this recipe  for “The most AMAZING Chocolate Buttermilk Cake EVER” on The Paperseed, and thought it might be worth a spin.  It was, my friends, it was.

  1. I pre-heated the oven to 350, and turned on a marathon of Law and Order: Special Victim’s Unit.  Oh, Detective Elliot Stabler, you are so troubled.  Allow me to ease your pain.
  2. I made a 1.5 recipe, enough for my 13×9 cake pans.
  3. In my schmancy electric mixer, I put in 3 1/2 cups flour, 3 1/4 cups sugar, 1 1/2 tablespoons + 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda (actually, I used baking powder by mistake, but I think that’s okay), 1 1/2 cup cocoa powder, and a healthy sprinkling of salt.
  4. I mixed them all together on low until they were well and truly mixed.
  5. Yea, and I looked upon the dry ingredients, and they were good.
  6. With the mixer still on low, I added in 2 cups canola oil and 2 1/4 cups buttermilk.
  7. One at a time, I added in 5 and a half eggs.  To achieve this, I added in five eggs, then took one egg, cracked it into a cup, swooshed it around a bit with a fork, then added about half of it.  SCIENCE!
  8. The mixer still mixing like a champ, I streamed in 2 1/4 cup of very strong hot coffee.
  9. Just so you know, there is no way that I accidentally started my roommate’s coffee grinder without the cap on and spewed coffe grounds all over the counter.
  10. Noooooo way that happened.
  11. I poured the batter into the pans, and then let them bake in the 350 degree oven for 30ish minutes.  The cakes puffed up immediately but fell as they cooled, a result of my baking powder / baking soda snafu.
  12. This one is MINE.

    While the cakes cooled, I made a makeshift double-boiler out of two saucepans, and set a few inches of water all a’simmer.

  13. In the top saucepan, I put in 2 1/4 cups heavy cream and 36 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate chips– I used Baker’s chocolate chunks.  Over the water, I let the chocolate melt without any help from me and my whisk.
  14. Once the chocolate had melted into the cream, I set upon it with a whisk-ful vengeance.  It will be patent-leather shiny and smooth as silk.  I left it to cool to room temperature.
  15. I may or may not have eaten several spoonfuls . . just to be sure it was okay.
  16. It was okay.
  17. It occurred to me I would need some icing for decorating, so I left a stick of butter out to soften.  Once it was ready, I whisked in about 2 cups of powdered sugar, and a glug of vanilla extract.  I was doing this manually with a fork, so I’m assuming it burned at least 1,500 calories.
  18. I poured the chocolate ganache over the cakes, and put them in the fridge to let it set.  Once that was done (read: once I was bored), I iced one of the cakes to say . . . CAKE!!
  19. I added in some red food coloring into the icing to ice the next cake to say .  .. . OR DEATH!!
  20. Don’t know why this is funny?  It’s from a classic Eddie Izzard routine.  Head here, and laugh, and laugh, and laugh.
  21. I also iced a cupcake just for me, and ate it alone, a la’ Bridesmaids.
  22. I let the cakes chill in the fridge, and continued my SVU marathon. I played my favorite game, Spot the Amazing Actor Most People Don’t Know Cuz They’re In Theater!!

BEHOOOOOLLLLLLLLLLD!!!!

VERDICT:  Daaaaaaaaaamn, y’all.  This has a moist, luscious crumb that’s not too sweet, and the creamy ganache is just the right topping.  In general, I’m not a huge fan off cakes, I generally find them overly cloying.  This is just on the line, but stays firmly on the semi-side of semi-sweet.  I have full confidence that the good people of Punchdrunk and Emursive will thoroughly enjoy the fruits of my not-so-laborious labors.

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Sleep No More Needs Cake

My dearest Insomnilytes,

It seems appropriate that your ever-sleepless baking fanatic should be baking a cake for the cast and crew of Sleep No More.  My fantastic room mate is one of the illustrious Prop Bitches to this immersive production, that lets audience members wander through 100 rooms of intricately designed theatrical goodness.  I had the pleasure of seeing this production in February, and it left a profound imprint on me.  It’s like they took all the terrifying, secret thoughts that live in my brain, and then had a bunch of dancers act them out.  Glorious.

Can't make a cake without breaking a few eggs.

Speaking of dark, restless, unrelenting humanity in the theatre, I’m going to take this moment to plug another show.  Hand to God, playing at Ensemble Studio Theatre through November 20th, will knock your fucking socks off, and make you wonder why you ever bothered with socks in the first place.  It’s the sort of show that makes you jump up and down and praise the gods of theatre for giving you this moment.  It’s uproariously funny and genuinely touching.  It also features the most graphic on-stage act of puppet fellatio I ever hope to see.

Full disclosure: the playwright is one of my best buddies, and I used to work at the venue.  But seriously folks, go.  Go now.

Back to Sleep No More.  Apparently, there is a tradition amongst the cast and crew called “Cake Friday”.  GUESS WHAT HAPPENS ON CAKE FRIDAY?  You get three guesses, and the first two don’t count.  Since my Props Bitch roommate had been regularly bringing in my leftover baked treats already, the crew offered to pay for ingredients if I would be willing to whip up a cake for the good staff of the McKittrick Hotel.  I was honored.

Love me, for I am delicious.

After extensive research and planning (read: several hours watching “Peep Show” on Hulu), I came up with this recipe from Smitten Kitchen.  The good Mrs. Kitchen never fails to please.  Granted, I changed it all up, but that’s to be expected.  I’m making an approximate 1.5 recipe here.

  1. I set butter and cream cheese out to soften, and pre-heated the oven to 350.  I played a few games of Whale Trail  and thought about what I wanted to do when I grew up.  It’s a shame “animated whale” isn’t an option.  The thing just seems s’darn happy.
  2. In a giant bowl, I whisked together 3 cups of cake flour, 3 1/2 cups sugar, 1 cup cocoa powder, 3 teaspoons baking soda, and, as ever, a liberal sprinkling of Himalayan sea salt.
  3. I added 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil and 1 1/2 cups sour cream, and continued with the whisking.  It looked thick and grainy, like a brownie mix.
  4. Holy crap!  “Death Becomes Her” is on Netflix streaming.  I love this movie.  Perhaps more than it deserves.  But oh, the nostalgia!
  5. Whisking all the while, I slowly added 2 and 1/4 cups water.  This made the batter very thin, almost dangerously thin.  But never fear, you’re doing the right thing.
  6. I added 3 tablespoons of white distilled vinegar, and a glug of vanilla extract.  Between the vinegar and the sour cream, this cake is almost a “chocolate velvet” recipe.  It’s a good thing.
  7. Beat in the eggs until you have a satiny bowl of deliciousness.
  8. I added half a bag of mini chocolate chips, cause I’m saucy that way.
  9. I poured the perhaps-too-thin batter into two 11×8 cake pans, liberally coated with cooking spray, and cooked for 35 minutes.
  10. The cakes puffed up like the arrogant confections they were, but never fear, they’ll settle down a but as they cool.  Definitely let them cool a good 30 minutes before icing.  DON’T MAKE THE SAME MISTAKES I DID.
  11. Meanwhile, take 16 ounces of softened cream cheese and 12 ounces of softened butter, and cream them together like nobody’s business.  If anyone asks, you tell them it’s not their business.
  12. I used the fancy-schmancy electric mixer my parents gave me for my birthday.
  13. The recipe calls for 5 cups of confectioners sugar, but trust me, you don’t need that much.  5 friggin’ cups?  I’m know health nut, but this is ridiculous.  Unless you are doing some serious decorating with this frosting, cut down on the sugar and just whip huge amounts of air into it like I did.  I used about three cups.
  14. After the icing was looking all fluffy-like, I added a cup of creamy peanut butter.  Use a major brand, so the oils won’t separate out.
  15. Keep mixing until it’s gorgeous and looks like icing.
  16. Isabella Rosselini looks amazing in this movie.  She looks even better than this icing.
  17. Well, maybe not that good.
  18. Frost the two cakes, and put those suckers in the freezer.
  19. Meanwhile, I made a chocolate shell for the cake that would be easy for me to decorate, since I am, in layman’s terms, “not that good.”
  20. I found a recipe for “magic candy shell“, which is terribly easy to make.  I put a bag of semi-sweet Ghirardelli chips into a bowl with a tablespoon or two of virgin coconut oil, and zapped it in the microwave, stirring intermittently until it was all melted together.
  21. I poured the glaze over the chilled cakes, and put them back in the freezer.
  22. After the glaze had set, I decorated the tops with some leftover frosting.

Methought I heard a voice cry 'Sleep no more! Macbeth does murder sleep . . .

VERDICT:  As this cake is not for me, I actually can’t tell if you if it’s any good!  I can tell you that the frosting is smooth and luscious, and the chocolate glaze sets like a dream.  It certainly looks divine, and worthy of the several hours of sleep lost to let each layer cool properly.   And hey! It’s all worth it to try and impress a team that gave me one of the most profound theatrical experiences of my life.  Bon apetit, y’all!
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Strawberry Jam and the Endless Sorrow

Greetings, my Insomnibakers.

It’s been far, far too long since I’ve written. So much has happened, so much is different.

The last few months have easily been the worst of my life.  Remember My Ex?  THE Ex?  Well, he died.  Suddenly, and tragically.  The last time I saw him alive, we were making out on the corner of Lafayette and Fulton after seeing a movie at BAM, having another argument about how and why a relationship between us could never work, interspersed with kisses and sweet nothings.   That night he nuzzled my neck and said something intensely sweet, kissed my cheek and said something intensely vulgar, then walked down the steps of the G train and out of my life forever.

A few weeks later, we commenced to have our apocalyptic fight described in my previous post, and he ceased speaking to me.  One of us was often ceasing to speak to the other. We were so dramatic.  It usually only took a month or two before we would make up, but he died before we did.

In the weeks following his death, I was carried around by my friends and family like a pile of wet laundry.  Useless and unbelieving.  It’s only over the past few days, thanks to a combination of an extraordinary support system and incredible family, a fabulous therapist, and some high-quality anti-depressants, have I begun to feel something like my old self again.

A bunch of other stuff happened also, but it’s not appropriate for Le Blogosphere.

My appetite had been all but destroyed, though it’s returning.   One of the few things I was able to eat consistently over this period of near-constant weeping has been freshly baked biscuits, and strawberry preserves.  It tastes of nostalgia and peace.   I’ll be tending to a friend tomorrow whilst I telecommute to work, and I’ve promised her fresh baked goods.  I thought some freshly made preserves would go down well with some aforementioned freshly baked goods.  It will be a day of funky fresh eatin’.

  1. I took about 2 pounds of gigantic strawberries, and cut them up into little pieces.
  2. I smushed them all up into a heavy bottomed saucepan.
  3. I added about a 1 1/2 cup sugar, and the juice of half a lemon.  All the recipes I saw online used an ungodly amount of sugar (FOUR CUPS?!?!?), but trust me it’s not needed.
  4. Over low heat, I stirred together the strawberries, sugar, and lemon juice until the sugar was entirely dissolved.
  5. I raised the heat to supernova, and stirred fairly constantly as the strawberry concoction bubbled away.
  6. For about 15 minutes I stirred and looked on in dismay, as what looked like gloppy strawberry juice adamantly refused to come together.
  7. Around the 20 minute mark, the consistency changed completely.  The color changed from light and juicy to a deep red.  The larger chunks of strawberry fruit began to break down into what looked recognizably like preserves.
  8. I put a teaspoon of the preserves onto a plate I had placed in the freezer, and put it back into the freezer.  After 30 seconds, I ran my finger through the preserves.  It was nice and jelled.
  9. This meant it was ready!  Huzzah!
  10. I poured the bulk of the preserves into a Mason jar for the next day’s eating, and then about half a cup into a smaller bowl for immediate eating.
  11. I devoured the jam with a few tablespoons of peanut butter right out of the bowl.
  12. OH DELICIOUS DAY.  What an intense strawberry flavor.

BEHOLD!!

VERDICT:  This is some INTENSE strawberry flavor, and makes for some very good eating.  It kinda whallops you over the head with pure strawberried power, and leaves you immediately wanting more.  Can’t wait to try again with different berries– a fantastic experiment to raise the spirits.  

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There’s a First Time for . . . Rhubarb

Greetings fans.

Tonight’s post will thankfully be blissfully free of the strife that plagued me last week.  Why, you may ask?  “Shrug,” I may answer.

Behold my new skinny-face. Behold it!

But all around, it’s been a good week.  Your Insomnibaker has been hitting the gym, and is a good 15 pounds smaller since beginning to try in earnest in March.  This is, however, getting hard on the Insomnibaker’s wallet, as your Insomnibaker has been treating herself to some new jeans to accommodate her new, improved InsomniButt.

This weekend was also the 4th Birthday of the Insomnibaker’s adorable nephew, so a fair amount was spent with a pack of shrieking children, whipped up into a frenzy by pizza and cake.  Exhausting, and adorable.  Much like myself.

The InsomniNephew, covered in cake.

Via a series of emails and Twitters with various folks, I was reminded of how incredibly awesome Rhubarb is.  So fucking delicious, and so often overlooked.  Or worse, so often combined with strawberries.  Nothing against strawberries, but rhubarb doesn’t need ’em.  Strawberries are like that friend you have, who’s really nice, and you like them and everything, but every time she enters the room she just makes it all about her, you know? And why should everything be about strawberries, huh?  Rhubarb is better off without that energy vampire.

 

Therefore, Vanilla Rhubarb Compote from Smitten Kitchen.

  1. First I cleaned and trimmed the rhubarb stalks (I only had 5-6 of them).  I cut them lengthwise, then into 3/4 inch chunks.

    Tart, rhubarby goodness

  2. I put about 3/4 of the chunks into a saucepan with 1 cup of brown sugar, and Indonesian vanilla pods, with the seeds scraped out.
  3. Vanilla pods are awesome because they come in glass vials, and you feel like you’re handling something illegal.
  4. But yer not.
  5. I put the pan on medium-low (it should be low-low, but I’m inpatient), and covered it.  Then just leave it alone for 15 minutes.  This type of thing is super-hard for me to do.  Like, NO STIRRING? I mean, you can stir, but you don’t need to.
  6. The smell in the house was gloooooorious.

    Watch out boys, it gets sauce-ay

  7. After 15 minutes, I removed the cover, stirred it a little, and let it cook some more on medium heat for 15 minutes.
  8. The rhubarb breaks down completely into a dark, sweet, gooey mess.
  9. Right at the end, you add in the other cup or so of little rhubarb bits.
  10. Delicious, tart, rhubarb-y bits.

BEHOOOOOOLLLLLD

VERDICT:  Not fucking bad, y’all, considering this is my first time working with rhubarb.  The compote is sweet, but has some juicy and tart pieces of rhubarb suspended.  It tastes almost like a pomegranate, only better.

Soon, I’ll make some biscuits or tarts to accommodate this wonderful spread, but for now?  Just a spoon, baby.  Just a spoon.

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Ghost Rider Flaming Skull Cupcakes

Preface:  Your Insomnibaker wrote this post about three weeks ago.  Since that time, I’ve baked a great deal more, but have sorely neglected to blog about it.   I’ve made flourless chocolate cakes and gluten-free pumpkin pies.  In the post below, I refer to a Boy over whom I was distraught.  Since writing the post, the Boy and I made up, exchanged words of tenderness, and commenced to have an absolutely apocalyptic fight.  We may never speak again.  Until the next time we makeup, or breakup, or whatever. 

And yet, I still wonder why I’m single.  Whatever, let’s bake . . . . . . . .

Oh, my friends, what a couple of weeks it’s been for your Insomnibaker.

I made this and didn't tell you about it.

This morning I had one of those cathartic cries that leaves your chest heaving and your face ruddy and dripping from the eyes and nose alike.  You know the type.  Where you’re babbling nonsense that sounds vaguely like a 5 year old trying to get out of going to school and great, honking sobs escape your body in soggy blubs.

What could have brought this on, you may ask?

Oh, any number of things, I may answer.  It’s been exhausting.  The Insomnibaker’s workplace has been chugging away like a runaway steam engine, and while it’s intellectually stimulating and a ton of fun and kind of amazing and I’m so happy and grateful each and every morning that this is my charmed life, it’s also exhausting, stress inducing, and drains away my life force each and every day.

But while that may be the  reason I wake each morning, weeping silently, it was not the reason for this morning’s outburst.  No, friends, it was over a boy.  An ex.  The Ex.   Our history is long and tortured.   We met 10 years ago, when I was dating his roommate.  On September 11th, 2001, I showed up on his doorstep in running eyeliner and a camouflage skirt, asking for a place to watch CNN.  We spent an awful, terrifying day choking down Jack Daniels and staring numbly at the television.  That night we fell asleep clutching one another.  I left the roommate, and we spent three intense weeks together before he dumped me for being a complete psychopath (a.k.a . . . a 21 year-old NYU student).  We spent 8 years not speaking, until the magic of Facebook brought us together once again.   Then apart. Then together, then apart.  This constant state of non-togetherness has once again left your saddened and single Insomnibaker feeling somewhat painfully, alone.

I also made these and didn't tell you

Thus, the weeping.

But weep no more, Insomnibaker!  For tomorrow, you shall be heading out into the world for CageFest: Part the First, in which my friends and I celebrate the wonder that is Nicolas Cage.  Specifically, the Cage Rage.  Don’t know what Cage Rage is?  Here you go.  And here’s anotherAnd whatever, here’s some more.

I thought long and hard about what to make.  My original thoughts were “The Rock: Truffles”, “Bad Lieutenant Beignets”,  or “Killing Me Won’t Bring Back Your Precious Honey(cake)”.  But I’ve done truffles to death, beignets can’t be made ahead of time, and I fucking hate honeycake.  Through a series of dicussions with a friend over tea, we came up with:

“Ghost Rider Flaming Skull S’More Cupcakes”. 

Oh yeah, get ready to light some shit on fire.

  1. I found a recipe for chocolate frosting off of Chowhound and one for Graham Cracker cupcake batter from Bakerella.  I’ve futzed with the proportions a fair amount, but it’s all good.

    Ganaaaaaaache

  2. First, I set 1 cup of heavy cream to boil in a saucepan.  In a medium bowl, I put one bag (11.5 ounces) of bittersweet Ghiradelli chocolate chips.  Once the cream had boiled, I poured it over the chocolate, and let it sit for three minutes.
  3. After three minutes, I added 1/4 cup agave syrup (I didn’t have corn) and 1 tablespoon vanilla, and then whisked the whole mess rather firmly.
  4. I put this into the fridge to cool, making sure to stir the frosting every 15 minutes or so.
  5. The frosting completed, I preheated the oven to 350 degrees and started on the batter.
  6. In a large bowl, I mixed together 1 and 1/2 cups flour, 1 and 1/2 cups sugar, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1 teaspoon baking soda, and 1 cup crushed Cinnamon Graham Crackers until it was a lovely, sugary, crumbly mess.
  7. Into the dry ingredients I added in 1 cup milk, 2 eggs, 1/2 cup oil, and 2 teaspoons vanilla.

    Behold me! For I shall soon be batter.

  8. In another bowl, I melted 1/4 cup butter and poured it over 1/4 cup crushed Cinnamon graham cracker crumbs and 1/4 cup brown sugar.
  9. I filled up 12 cupcake tins halfway with the batter, then spooned the graham cracker topping into each of the cups, then spooning on more batter until the cups were 2/3 full.
  10. I popped the tins into the oven for about 15 minutes.
  11. Whilst the cupcakes were baking, I drew little faces on some organic marshmallows.  These would then become the flaming skulls that sit atop our hero’s head.
  12. Once the cupcakes had baked and cooled, I frosted those mothers, pressed a marshmallow into the center, and let them chill overnight so that the ganache would be extra firm (you don’t have to do that, but it’s a personal preference).

Look! A happy Skull Rider

BURNINATION

THE VERDICT: These were majorly crowd-pleasing and beyond delicious.  The batter is gooey and luscious, and the cinnamon from the graham crackers added a nice zing.  A dash of nutmeg would not go out of place in this batter.  It provided a stable base for the ganache and marshmallows.  The ‘mallows themselves were somewhat hard to handle and difficult to light properly, but that’s what I get for not sticking them in place with a toothpick.  Overall, I think we can safely say that these are cupcakes worth of a Rage that is Cage.

Crispity deliciousness

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Sour Cream Biscuits for Skydiving

Greetings, gentle readers.

I come to you on the heels of a rather awesome week for the Insomnibaker, though something of a fraught evening.  Oh, the delights this week has brought.  Particularly this evening, surrounded by my incredible family.  We spent the bulk of the evening at Beacon, merrily munching bone marrow on horseradish toast, bacon-wrapped monkfish, roasted scallops and oysters, and wood oven roasted suckling pig.

We’re Jewish.  I swear.

Anyhow, despite the loveliness of the evening, I type before you skittish and terrified.  Why, you may ask?  Because your Insomnibaker has decided, for the second year in a row, to flout both gravity and her crushing fear of heights to go skydiving as a part of Operation Freefall, which raises money for the victims of sexual assault.

It’s a terrific cause, and a honestly, the experience of leaping out into the open air strapped to a bulky dude is as exhilarating as one could hope for.  But I am terrified of heights.  TEH. RUH.  FIED.  And the living in the Age of Google doesn’t help one bit (all day I’ve been searching for “skydiving tandem deaths 2010).

But I thought that a little baking would soothe my timid and fearful soul.  I had planned on a dessert, but I didn’t plan enough to actually have eggs in the refrigerator.   It’s easy to find recipes without a variety of ingredients, but eggs are hard to get around– especially if you can’t wait hours for butter to firm up.

However, I did have some sour cream sitting around being useless, which provided the light bulb flash I needed.  Biscuits!  A few quick searches later, I had a recipe from Smitten Kitchen and was on my way to a delicious post-skydiving snack for tomorrow.

  1. I preheated (pre-het?) the oven to 425 degrees.
  2. I grated up my cheeses.  I only had a few ounces of cheddar, so I also used about 4 ounces of Gruyere, which happens to be the very favorite cheese of one of my skydiving buddies tomorrow.  I am so thoughtful IT BLOWS MY MIND.
  3. In a large bowl, I whisked together 1 and 1/2 cups flour, 2 tsps baking powder, 1/2 tsp baking soda, and a nice pinch of sea salt.

    Ready for transformation.

  4. I pinched in 2 tablespoons butter with my hands, until it was all nice and crumbly.
  5. Into the flour mixture, I mixed in 1 cup sour cream, my cheeses (about 1 and 1/2 cups), and 2 tablespoons of green chilis.  I think pickled jalepenos (what the recipe calls for) would have been a better choice, but these were fine.
  6. I turned the whole sticky mess out onto a floured surface, and cut it into 8 little biscuits.  I don’t have a biscuit cutter.  It’s just not how I roll.
  7. Then I had 15-17 minutes to continue googling skydiving fatality rates and pondering what will clearly be my abrupt, splattery demise.

Melty, gooey, and delicious.

Verdict:  Yummalicious.  I suppose that if tomorrow I do indeed perish in a dramatic, swooping wooosh of doom, these would be a nice way to remember me.  So, dear readers, if this is to be my last post, I hope that you will remember your Insomnibaker fondly, and bake these biscuits with care.

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Chocolate-Covered Caramelized Matzoh Crunch

Greetings, my followers!!

Tonight finds me sitting calmly inside perfect storm of baking conditions; I have an event tomorrow, I’ve done my laundry, and I’m full of Deep, Deep Feeeeelings.

It’s been a long week for your Insomnibaker.  A dear, dear friend was in a horrific motorcycle accident at the beginning of this week.  Thankfully, he’s going to live, and he’s going to walk.  But when friend is hurt, it stirs up a lot more of those primal fears than I care to experience regularly. And there’s essentially nothing I can do, other than bake and pray.  I’m going to be able to visit him in a few weeks, which is a blessing. But it’s left me feeling vulnerable, terrified, and sad.

Today was also a big day for the Insomnibaker as she continues to patch up some of the wreckage of her past life.  It’s a long, slow process, and an emotionally draining one.

So baaaaaaasically, the sum total of today’s activities has created the following emotional state . . . .

. . .  hold me?

Tomorrow is also Erev Pesach (the night before Passover, for those Gentiles reading this), so I thought something tasty that used Matzoh would be in order.  Though if you ask me, there’s not a whole heck that uses Matzoh and is tasty at the same time. Fortunately, I found a recipe that takes this tasteless waste of flour and soaks it in butter and sugar, then covers it in chocolate.  It comes courtesy of the incomparable David Leibovitz.  Read on!!

  1. Start by preheating the oven to 375.  Assemble your arsenal of ingredients . . .butter, sugar, bittersweet chocolate, and Matzoh.

    Chocolate + sea salt = Happy

  2. Prep the pan by taking a baking sheet and covering it in foil so that there is enough overhang on the side to catch all the delicious toffee you’ll be pouring into it.  Then cover the foil with parchment paper.  Or don’t whatever.
  3. But you really should.
  4. Lay out the Matzoh in a single layer (I used mini-Matzohs, but it’s not important).
  5. Shudder at the memories of all the Goyim that went nuts for the stuff back in elementary school.  Back when I was but a young Insomnibaker, I attend a public school with a fairly large Jewish population.  My family didn’t keep Kosher, Passover or no, but every spring my school cafeteria was littered with pre-teens munching on PB&J on Matzoh.  What I could never understand, was that some of the people crunching away weren’t Jewish.  That’s right– there were kids eating Matzoh when they didn’t have to.  For the love of all that’s good why?!?!
  6. In a heavy pan over high heat, melt 1 cup of butter together with 1 cup of brown sugar.  Stirring continuously, let it melt completely and start to boil.
  7. Allow it to boil for a full 3 minutes, stirring the whole time.  It will thicken and smell wonderful.

    Behold my tray of total tastelessness!

  8. Add a generous pinch of sea salt and a glug of vanilla extract, but don’t stop stirring.  Please, please don’t stop stirring.
  9. Stop stirring.
  10. Pour the mixture immediately over the matzoh, and spread it around with a heat-proof spatula.
  11. Lower the oven temperature to 325, and then put your pan in there.  It will bubble up (watch to make sure it doesn’t start smoking.  Smoking is awfully bad for your health), and smell wonnnnnnderful.
  12. After removing the pan, pour 1 cup of chopped bittersweet chocolate (I used more than the recipe called for, a 9 ounce block of Schaffern Berger deliciousness).  You can also use chocolate morsels.  Let stand for 5 minutes.
  13. After 5 minutes are up, spread the now-melted chocolate with a spatula.  Try to resist the temptation to eat this now.  It is too hot to eat now.
  14. Seriously, let it cool.
  15. I added another sprinkling of Hawaiin Red sea salt, because that’s how I roll.
  16. Once it’s all cooled and amazing, break into large pieces and serve to a hungry public.

BEHOOOOOOOLLLLLLLLLLLD!!!!

Verdict:  Holy mother of pearl!! This may be the best thing that’s ever happened to me.  Buttery, sugary, salty, crispity, crunchity, chocolatey deliciousness.  You can’t even tell it’s Matzoh underneath all that wonderful toffee flavor (for some strange people, this may be a bad thing.  These people should not be trusted).

It should also be noted, I may not have waited for this batch to cool entirely, so I may be griping tomorrow about how the chocolate doesn’t set properly.  In the meantime though, my fingers are covered in butter and chocolate, and my soul will be at peace.

I think I will be able to sleep easy now.

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