Thursday, April 7, 2016

Roo's Bake Off

Roo is staring down at a pan of milk on the stovetop. He’s gently, constantly stirring it, willing it to boil.
“This milk is very boil-resistant,” he says, still not releasing his furrowed gaze from the stubborn milk. It is 10:24 pm on a Thursday night. The boiling of the milk is just one in a long series of steps for the chocolate tart he is making, the chocolate tart which he started about two hours ago. He mixed the butter into the flour with his hands, carefully crumbling it to create a satisfying distribution of fat. Then he mixed in the cold water and chilled the dough. He patiently waited for it to chill while he chopped up his baking chocolate into just the right size of shards so as to maximize its melting potential. Now to get that milk to boil.
“The recipe said to set the tart aside to cool. It hasn’t cooled...,” he pauses to reassess what to do.
“I’m so nervous,” he groans to himself. Then pauses to snap a picture. Occasionally he asks for my advice. But Roo is all about perfection, for painstaking, deliberate, meticulous adherence to the precise instructions to achieve maximum results. And I, he knows, am not.
“I dunno, just stick it in. Probably doesn’t matter,” my typical slipshod, just-go-with-your-intuition approach does not hold much water with him. So he tends to keep his brow furrowed and his gaze held and press on to another solution after asking my opinion.
That is Roo. He is all in. He will not half-way anything, not even a chocolate tart. In fact, the existence of the tart is proof of his commitment to an idea. When he decides on something, he goes all the way for it. We’ve been watching The Great British Bake Off, a baking competition show that features a dozen contestants and a host of tasty, tempting baking challenges. We watch it at night, when everything looks and sounds delicious, and after witnessing the judges stuff one too many puffed pastries into their mouths, Roo decided to go all-in on the baking too. He’s decided to bake a new item every night this week. He bought the supplies, researched the recipes, found the proper equipment, and set aside time (hours, in the case of tonight) to bake the tasty treats. 
Monday it was chocolate soufflés. The kids went to bed an hour later than usual, happily putting off bedtime awaiting the arrival of the soufflés. 
Tuesday was a divine chocolate lava cake that was done only 30 minutes past bedtime.  It was worth the lateness.
Wednesday was a well-intentioned but ultimately ill-fated chocolate macaron venture. The kids were in bed by 7, but the macarons were not finished until much later. The meringue was not fluffy enough, the ganache too thick, and most tragically, the cookie sheets were lined with wax paper instead of parchment paper, which caused the cookies to adhere to the lining as if they’d been super glued on. We spent a good twenty minutes scraping them off the lining with knives, then our fingers, then (in my case) my teeth. The result was carnage, and five salvaged macarons. They were large, awkward and disheveled. But they tasted pretty good. 

Tonight I made my case that Roo ought to take a break from baking, but he persisted, offended that I suggest giving up. He had made a plan, and he would follow through. So on to the chocolate tart.
The chocolate tart is delicious evidence of what I love about Roo. He makes up his mind to do something and then he makes it happen. So it has been in our life together. For some reason he made up his mind to love me, and he has made it happen. And I have been so happy because of it. Our years together have been exciting, interesting, surprising, and full of delicious nights of chocolate desserts.
It is 11 pm and he’s just about to pull it out of the oven. Nope, needs more time. He’s researching his recipe for tomorrow in the meantime. And watching the Great British Bake Off.


Amy said...

This sounds amazing! Please plan your next bake off when we are visiting :-)

Lynn said...

This is a perfect example of Roo's personality! Thank you for writing it down and capturing the intensity of his effort. Most of us just saw the delicious chocolate treats but didn't appreciate Roo's dedication and effort to make them.
Thanks for writing!

Lizzie Jones said...

I love this post so much. Brilliant.