The kids made the chocolate cake from a box, pretty much entirely on their own, and having a lot of fun doing it. Well, I sprayed the inside of the pan with Baker’s Joy, because you have to push the spray thing a little harder than is comfortable for Kavi. It’s funny the things that are still surprisingly hard for her — often not what I’d expect. They did everything else, though, including dropping an egg on the floor and cleaning it up.
We then did a sort of improvised cake toppings bar. I took some frozen berries, cooked them down with the leftover champagne from the morning’s garden club mimosas, a few squeezes of lime juice, brown sugar, and some crystallized ginger, to make a gingered-berry-champagne compote. I also melted some chocolate chips (a couple minutes at half power in the microwave), set some of it aside for the kids, and stirred in some chili powder and salt to what was left to make a salted spicy chocolate sauce. Then set those out along with some ready-made frosting and sprinkles, so that everyone could have cake the way they liked it.
The box cake was still a little fluffy and light for my tastes — I like my chocolate cake to be denser. But the flavors were delicious, Kevin agreed, and the kids were happy with their version too (heavy on the frosting and sprinkles), so I’d call it a pretty decent success for birthday-cake-from-what-we-have-on-hand-because-we-are-too-lazy-to-go-to-the-store.
Three hours yesterday writing in the shed + four hours today writing in the shed. Shed good. Very focusing.
I’ve gone through a host of critique comments from Acorns workshop, Deborah Elaine Moeller, and Jed Hartman (thank you all!), and the novel-turned novella-turned 45K word thing, the novella now retitled _Kriti_, has finished another pass. It is better.
I don’t think it’s final quite yet, but it’s starting to take the right shape, I think? After spending much too long in the wrong shape. I am seeing consistent themes carried through now. I have pruned away excess plottiness. My protagonist actually protags, although maybe more in a lit fic kind of way that a more typical space opera kind of way.
I have no idea who will want to publish this little thing, but that is a question for another day. Now, send it out to beta readers and forget about it for a bit, switch back over to all Wild Cards, all the time — I have a 9/15 deadline on that story, and I have quite a ways to go on it. I couldn’t seem to focus while this was in my head, though. There are apparently limits to how many worlds I can carry in my head at any one time.
Coffee, a few e-mails, read workshop stories for our in-person meeting tonight, and then Wild Cards Wild Cards, Wild Cards.
In the Wednesday Journal.
Usually I make exactly what I write in the recipe, but the truth is, I find cutting caramels labor-intensive enough that it’s something I only plan to do once a year or so. So I’m not going to make these again anytime soon, even though they’re quite delicious, and even though I think they would be just the tiniest bit tastier with the proportions I’m going to write down below. I made these with 3/4 c. mango pulp and 1/4 c. passionfruit pulp, because that’s what I had on hand, but I think they would be even better with 1/2 and 1/2, so that the tartness of the passionfruit would better balance the mango. But honestly, I think any ratio of those two would be delicious, as long as you ended up with 1 c. fruit pulp total.
Based on a Gale Gand basic caramel recipe. Makes at least 60 caramels.
5 c. sugar
1/2 c. mango pulp
1/2 c. passionfruit pulp
1 c. water
6 T butter
1 c. cream, warmed a little
flake salt for topping (optional)
1. In a very large pot (it will boil up a lot), mix sugar, fruit pulp, and water.
2. Bring to a boil and continue cooking without stirring until hard ball stage (250 degrees on a candy thermometer).
3. Turn heat off and stir in the butter and then the cream.
4. Pour into a 9×12 pan that has been lined with parchment paper and buttered. Let the caramel cool and set until firm, at least two hours and preferably overnight.
5. Once firm, turn caramel out onto a board, cut into rectangles, and sprinkle with flake salt if desired. Wrap in decorative clear plastic (you can get squares online that are meant for caramels, that twist and hold well).
My god. It’s a good thing I’m out of ice cream, is all I’m saying.
Ice cream + passionfruit toffee + cashews + flake salt.
(No, I am not opening an ice cream parlor. But if we do that Sri Lankan pop-up in Amanda Daly‘s place, this might have to be a dessert option.)
Candy recipe-testing takes so much more patience than I normally need for recipe-testing!
I took a basic caramel recipe, swapped out the water for mango & passionfruit pulp, and then realized that that wasn’t thick enough, so I just went ahead and added the water back in. So now I *really* have no idea whether this will set into caramels or not. I may end up with a sticky messy that is impossible to cut. I may end up with toffee instead. It’s going to be hours before I have any idea.
I am feeling my way through candy-making, and I have to remind myself that my early attempts to modify my mom’s marshmallow recipe were equally confusing, and now, at least, I have that down. It’d be nice to get a solid desi-inflected caramel recipe down — we’ll see.
Ah well. I suppose this means it’s time to go and write for a while? Or sort clothes? Something. I suppose if it doesn’t set, I’ll have mango-passionfruit caramel sauce, which is not a tragedy.
The Speculative Literature Foundation is saddened to hear about the passing of K.C. Ball, winner of the 2012 Older Writers Grant, and juror for the 2014 Older Writers Grant and 2014 Diverse Writers and Diverse Worlds grants. K.C. was an excellent speculative fiction writer and a keen juror with sharp insight. Our thoughts are with her loved ones during this time. We hope young and old continue to be intrigued, captivated, and entertained by her stories for years to come.