At first I was afraid, I was petrified...when I learned of Nigella Lawson’s Clementine Cake, via the singing praises of her many fans.
To me, the idea of combining five, whole clementines with almond flour, seemed like a recipe for disaster.
The many hurrays (with only a few harrumphs) garnered by this cake over the years, finally convinced me to try it.
It was, with Open Arms, that I followed the lead of two culinary giants, Nigella Lawson, and Pierre Hermé, to create a festival of flavors in one dessert, lovingly concocted for the Wind Beneath my Wings.
Nigella’s book, How to Eat, describes this cake as "an easy to make, wonderfully-damp and aromatic flourless cake."
Hey, Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad.
The First Time I baked this cake, it turned out rather boring, unlike its lovely creator. Suspecting error on my part, I tried baking the cake again.
Surely a glug of Grand Marnier, a drape of chocolate ganache, and a supporting cast of delicately-crisp orange tuiles would be Almost Paradise.
Well, sadly, the cake never lived up to its superlatives. It was heavy, with a soggy texture, and it still lacked in flavor. A Total Eclipse of the Heart.
Btw, the reason I'm not including the recipe is because friends don't let other friends waste a perfectly good clementine. Not to mention, the recipe is all over the internet.
On the other hand, the Orange Tuiles from My Boo, Pierre Hermé, were light, citrus-y confections.
Only downside, the tuiles spread too much in the oven. And what started out as heart-shaped tuiles, emerged from the oven resembling the state of Mis . . . Mississip . . . Texas.
So, I had this brain flash to spread the tuile batter onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, and use a heart-shaped cookie cutter to cut out the tuiles as they came out of the oven.
Success! But I had to work quickly, while the tuiles were HOT! Ouch. Let me tell you, it was More Than a Feeling.
But, I Will Survive...
This experience was just a minute failure. And, for the record, I still love Nigella and Pierre. And I Would Do Anything For Love. But I Won't Do That . . .again.
The silver lining? This whimsical frog prince. He started with about 4 ounces of tinted marzipan. The body weighed almost 3 ounces, which left enough marzipan for the legs, feet and eyes.
Shape the largest piece into an oval for the body. Then gently roll the neck as shown, and prop the head on a sponge roller, for about 1 hour, to help maintain that pose.
Divide remaining marzipan (2 for the hind legs, 2 for the webbed feet, 2 for the front legs, and 2 for the eyes). Roll the two largest pieces into 2-inch long sausages, for the hind legs. Fold in half as pictured. Make the webbed feet, and front legs with the leftover marzipan.
With a wooden skewer, mark the nostrils. Attach all the pieces with edible glue made from Gum Arabic and a few drops of water. A mixture of powdered egg whites and water will work as well.
The crown was just a thin strip of gum paste, wrapped around my index finger, ends overlapped and glued. Painted gold using Gold Petal Dust, and a few drops of clear alcohol (gin, vodka, tequila), or lemon extract.
May your Valentine's Day be filled with chocolate, and favorite love songs.