Cooking Through: My First Flop

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I was having a bad day, I had woken up with a horrible headache and gone back to bed instead of doing school, then I had gone to the doctor in the afternoon, and come back home feeling crummy. It was the middle of the afternoon, and I hadn’t done anything productive. But when I got back, it hit me: I was going to make a tart.

Yes! A tart! I felt like a genius. A tart would redeem the day. A tart would make me feel better. A tart would be tasty! And hey, there were tarts in the magazine. Making a tart seemed like the only idea. The best idea. The perfect plan. I was going to make a tart.

I dumped the flour and sugar into the mixer, cut up the butter and threw it in, mixed this and that in, and once the dough was done, I floured the cutting board and plopped the dough on. I started rolling it out, humming and rolling, rolling and humming, and then I started moving the crust to the faux-tart pan I was using and–the crust broke. Right down the middle. I repeated my operation, humming slightly less happily, and rolling it out all over again. And what did it do? Again, it ripped down the middle. But I was not to be undone by a simple crust! (I should have used my own crust recipe.) I tried again and again and again. And then, the sixth try. Finally it was in the pan! I had extra crust, so I made mini-tarts in my muffin pans, and slid them into the oven.

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The crusts were cooking in the oven, and I merrily turned to our fridge, Steve, to look for whipping cream. We had none. Undaunted, I grabbed the half & half, and poured an amount into my mixer. I added some almond extract–wait, one second! Can we talk about almond extract for a second? Why does no one use almond extract? Besides me, I mean.  This is how I see it: Almond extract and nutmeg are the cooler older cousins of vanilla and cinnamon. Unfortunately, they are under-valued, or just not known. So a quick question for you: Do you ever use almond extract? If you don’t you should.

Any not-exhausted and headache-bound cook (baker, really) knows half & half does not work the same way as whipping cream, or heavy cream. It just doesn’t work. But I didn’t care. ‘Oh, half & half should work! Tra-la-la!’ But after a few minutes of beating the poor cream to death, I went off to find Mom.

Finding her, I put my head down on her shoulder. “Mooom. Half & half doesn’t work!” You know what we used, instead of whipping cream? Sour cream. Sour cream and half & half! The half & half was already in the mixer, so I poured some sour cream in, and started beating them so they would mix. And then I grabbed a bag of powdered sugar–one dump, two dump, three dump. It ought to be sweet enough now!

So here we had a clueless cook in the kitchen, sour cream instead of whipping cream, and, unbeknownst to me, the crusts were puffing in the oven. This seems like something from I Love Lucy.

I grabbed the crusts out of the oven. They were puffed, and the sides were low. I let them cool and poured in the sour cream mixture. The crusts weren’t right, and the cream went over the edge, slipping down into the pan, around the crust. I stuck them into the freezer, so that the filling would actually set up. I knew already that I was going to have to try this recipe again. Thank goodness for Supper Club and willing guinea pigs.

When I took the tarts out, I added kiwi fruit slices and pomegranate seeds–they were pretty gorgeous. But not very delicious.

I hope the chickens like it.

Mini Tarts

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