REVIEWS

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Saturday, February 13, 2010

Confessions Of A Cake-aholic


I love dessert, let’s establish that right off the bat.

I love cookies, pie, tarts, donuts, chocolate, assorted soft candy, ice cream, sorbet, sherbert, pudding, and custard. And most of all, I love cake. My love for desserts has often caused me to be too plump, though I’ve somehow managed never to be more than 50 pounds overweight. 50 pounds sound like a lot, but considering how much I love dessert, I ought to be at least 300 pounds overweight.

Right now I’m fairly skinny, but I love dessert more than ever. I’ve learned to alternate high-calorie days with low-calorie days. And I’ve cultivated a love for non-desserts, just to balance the equation. Balance is an important concept when trying to control your weight. Ironically, balance is also an important element of a good dessert.

For instance, plenty of desserts look beautiful but end up tasting bland. The appearance of dessert is important – after all, it needs to be pretty enough to tempt me. But I’m no longer fooled by good looks. If I’m going to consume those calories, they’d damn well better be good. Good taste is a matter of balance between the elements of the recipe, the ratio of sugar to butter and cream, the flavorings, the type of chocolate you’re using, etc. Too much sugar will drown out all the other flavors, but not enough may make the dessert bland or bitter.

Yet somehow, balance of taste still isn’t enough for me. No, I’m a true junkie, I care about texture, too. I love crunchy, creamy, moist, crisp, smooth, and chewy. A tasty treat must also have good texture.

Great taste and interesting texture – we’re cooking with gas here. There’s just one more thing I need for a perfect dessert experience, and that’s contrast. Chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream is a perfect example. Hot apple pie with the ice cream is even better, because then you can contrast flavors and temperature. A banana split with nuts and hot fudge, a root beer float, brownies with walnuts.

Yes, I must invoke the b-word again: balance. When I was a kid, I struggled with anorexia for a few years. I would starve for days, then eat like a psycho. When you stuff yourself, you don’t get to have fun, you’re too busy being compulsive. Once I got over that, I went through a phase of thinking some foods were bad. I thought I had to learn to stop liking them. Maybe if I avoided them long enough, I’d get over wanting them.

Didn’t work. So I’ve made peace with myself. After all, I’ve got some healthy hobbies, like hiking. I deserve regular treats. A little sin is good for the soul.

Good thing I can sin like a demon.

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