Memories of holiday cakes past

Chocolate Birthday Cake with Billowy Marshmallow Frosting

In preparing for this year’s holiday season, I have been reflecting on cakes I made in the recent past.  I thought of calling my debut post, “A la recherche des gateaux perdus”, but figured that might be too Proustianly pretentious (or pretentiously Proustian?) or just plain ‘ole silly .  Besides, David Lebovitz has the whole madeleine thing well covered already.

We all know that dessert is the most important course in any meal. OK, maybe it is not after breakfast…usually.  For any holiday, a noteworthy cake makes a memorable end to a memorable meal.  There really is a reason for lyrics such as “visions of sugar plums danced in their heads”.

For last year’s new year’s eve potluck, as I am wont to do, I went through piles of my cookbooks seeking inspiration for a suitable cake.  The inspiration was the enticing “Dark Chocolate Peppermint Pattie Cake” (from Sweet Stuff: Karen Barker’s American Desserts).  Here is the photo I took quickly, before heading over to the party, at our friends’ house three doors away, on new year’s eve:

Chocolate Peppermint Pattie Cake

Dark Chocolate Peppermint Pattie Cake

More on holidays cakes of yore

All the guests seemed to enjoy the minty contrast of the peppermint patties with the profoundly chocolate cake. Though I followed Karen’s recipe precisely – I do not even recall adding espresso powder, as I almost always do! –  I remember thinking afterward that the six ounces of chopped peppermint patties in the batter could have been increased by 50% or so, but that’s just my thing for minty freshness.

For Xmas 2007, I decided to overcome my trepidation of making a jelly-roll style cake.  I tried a classic “Buche de Noel au chocolat”, or chocolate yule log, for dinner here at home.  It was well received, with its deep chocolate-espresso sponge cake complemented by a Cherry-Heering-liqueur-infused whipped cream.

Buche de noel au chocolat, or, Chocolate Yule Log, 2007

Pictured at the very top of this post is Dorie Greenspan’s “black-out cake” (without chocolate crumbs on the exterior) from Baking: From My Home to Yours. While not an end-of-year holiday cake, it was a belated 80th birthday cake last July when my mother visited the island, with a definite “holiday” look to it.

This year, I am inspired by a “candy cane cheesecake” from a Canadian website I was visiting.  However, I was not convinced by the recipe online. Rifling through my cookbooks, I decided to rely again on the always reliable Dorie and her “tall and creamy cheesecake” (again, from Baking), which I will adapt with the lemon juice and peppermint extract from another recipe, along with a chocolate wafer crust.  Stay tuned for the results after the 25th.

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