0116 Birthday Croquembouche!

I realized, in going through old posts, that I still owe you a post about my magical birthday confection, a croquembouche!

Shane did a marvelous job of taking pictures, and Olivia has already posted a fantastic summary from imagination to execution to consumption.  I did an excellent job of making a sugar volcano when the caramel sauce got a little too caramelized.  The end result? A delicious, delicate tower of pastry full of vanilla bean-y cream.  Each profiterole did, in fact, crunch in the mouth, and I felt like a little kid as I licked sticky sugar off my fingers.  And I felt a rush of both pride – in having tackled a fancy baking challenge – and sugar, both of which are very good things on one’s birthday.

0115 Summery pasta and a beet and spinach salad

Dinner tonight at Shana‘s, pasta with pesto and a packet of summery vegetables from her winter Locavorious share.  I had good intentions of roasting squash to bring for a salad, but time got away from me after work, and instead I brought my favorite beet salad from Plum Market, a package of spinach, and some leftover herbed goat cheese.  It was such a treat to have zucchini and summer squash – and to share a meal with friends as we planned for the croquembouche.

Sometime over the holidays Olivia mentioned that she wanted to try the croquembouche, Shana expressed interest, and I offered up the occasion – my 30th birthday.  Many emails have flown back and forth this week as we discussed recipes, divided up ingredients and equipment, and planned a small brunch to go with this confectionery masterpiece.  Tonight we cracked eggs, whipped the pastry cream, piped small circles of pâte à choux – and drank wine and talked about food and life.  I’ve missed evenings like this, and I hope that there will be many more to come as I enter my 30s.