What’s for dinner?

Tonight is Valentine’s night, so what’s for dinner? I cannot remember the last time we went out for Valentine’s dinner. It just isn’t practical given how grumpy husband gets in traffic, which is horrendous on Valentine’s day/night. Usually, I’d order Valentine’s shaped pizza from Shakey’s, I don’t want to enslave myself. Not fair, right? 🙂

At any rate, I thought I should be more thoughtful this time and guess what prompted me to be so? A recipe of Cooking Channel in FB: “Spaghetti with Meatballs” which husband orders in restos whenever the dish is listed. But guess what? I’m not following the recipe to the letter because the sauce requires baby back ribs! How utterly sinful. Besides with son away, it seems not worth trying a recipe in its entirety, right? Reason. Rationalizing. So there, only the meatballs recipe will be followed. The sauce will come from a bottle, a present son received last Christmas. Hope the meatball recipe meets husband’s standards.

As HHA will be doing the spaghetti, I thought of doing the dessert. I was so stressed doing it, starting at 9:48 this a.m. Yup, I looked at the clock as I ground the cashew nuts. The dessert I set out to make: mocha torta. Years back I had made this for husband and he was so smitten he has kept marveling about it but it’s such a chore to make. Plus I lost the recipe (how convenient?). Then it occurred to me that the Internet might have something to offer. Actually, mocha torte is basically sans rival with mocha icing. So I referred to this recipe for hazelnut mocha torte and Nora Daza’s sans rival. It was an exercise in insanity as I shifted from one recipe to another, playing it by ear which to follow, which would be better. For the meringue base I intended to follow the hazelnut recipe but was so tired pounding the nuts I decided to diminish the quantity of nuts to 1.5 cups instead of the 2 cups prescribed. SLoth. Then I had to decide what to follow in terms of baking the meringue. The hazelnut recipe said to just line the greased pan with wax paper, to use two round pans, etc. Nora Daza’s recipe said to use 3 rectangular pans. Etc. I really was punishing myself. And as past experience had shown me how difficult it was to extricate cooked meringue, to cook the perfect meringue, I googled and found a discussion on the matter here. Marketmanila’s distaste for preparing the meringue was something I could relate to and was the major reason why I hesitated to prepare mocha torte. Learning that I had a confrere on the matter was reassuring but as i read the comments that had different recommendations on how to come up with the perfect meringue, I was in a quandary. Said quandary was solved when I had enough baking paper for only one tray. SO I used that, putting it on top of a greased pan. For the second pan (I only had two pans so putting the meringue in 3 was out of the question), I had to resort to a suggestion in the comments section of Market Manila’s post: to use tin foil, put shiny side down on a greased pan. In the past when I had prepared meringue, I recall using foil, but I think I also greased the foil where the meringue was? It was so long ago I cannot remember exactly.

For the butter cream: the hazelnut recipe had a different technique from Nora Daza. I folloed the latter though I wasn’t really sure the sugar had spun a thread. I wasn’t sure if the egg yolks were beaten thick enough. I just played things by ear. The old recipe of my mother didn’t require cooking the sugar. ND’s recipe required 6 egg yolks, hazelnut’s 4. I used 6. And I didn’t add confectioner’s sugar. That reminds me, ND’s recipe for meringue didn’t have flour, hazelnut’s did. I followed that.

Messy, I know. Messy mind. And finally, the buttercream. As my mother’s recipe was mocha, I recall having put coffee. I had a bottle of Nestle gold and put two tsps dissolved in water. I tried the buttercream, I couldn’t taste the coffee. Had HHB taste it, she said it was okay. But even if she’s the coffee drinker which I’m not, I was adamant. I had her look for husband’s coffee stash. Oops, the first she found had coffee beans. Then she found a pack that had granules with my name on it. I had her open it – now that was coffee. I added half a tsp and the buttercream smelled coffee. Vietnam coffee. That was more like it, I thought.

But as the president (PNoy) said, the proof is in the pudding (in the eating? – an abbreviated form of the proof of the pudding is in the eating – Yes, I’m aware of having written as much in a previous post). So the verdict will have to wait when husband comes home.

Sorry this post is so messy. But that’s how messy my mind and my actions were, preparing the mocha torta.


Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!

(Image from here)


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