This was me, a few days ago.
Actually, not me. More like that was an Apricot Chocolate Torte a few days ago. And before it had been finished, it looked like this…
…and before that, it was a pile of cocoa and shimmering, downy-soft flour.
Today marks the first night of Passover. I have been in the kitchen most of the day, preparing desserts for the seder at my in-laws’ home tonight. This is a family ritual, a traditional – albeit grumbling and hungry – telling of the Passover story, followed by the eating of the so-called festive meal. I make the desserts. And to honor the fact that the Jewish slaves ran like hell out of Egypt before the bread could rise, the desserts have no flour.
And because the desserts have no flour, I go crazy.
I can make flourless things, you know – nice chocolate souffles, chocolate-dipped fruit, coconut meringues – and I make them all for Passover; but with the sudden absence of flour from my arsenal, I spend untold hours wringing my hands and wailing, “oh wheat, you have forsaken me! Where is my baking powder, my grain? Return to me, Apricot Chocolate Tortes of yore.”
I flip the cards of my mental cake-dex and want to mix every one. I want to sift through the air and slice layers to the sky, but I don’t. I honor my ancestors and their grain-free flight from Egypt with meringues, and strawberries, and pretend-banana cake laced with grainy matzo meal.
But here, like a golden calf, we can ogle beautiful chocolate cake. Of course I say this with no disrespect; some of my fondest memories involve being nine years old and seder-table tipsy – after my cousins loaded me with Shnapps, under the table. It’s simply that the no-flour rule waves a flag – a “you can’t have it” flag, and then you want it. Oh fine crumb, stop your wandering – and make a hasty return to your people’s plate!
Happy Passover, Happy Easter, a joyous Spring and a very fine day to you all, whatever you may be celebrating. I’m back and simmering shortly with something fresh.