caramelized white chocolate rhubarb cake

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Taxidermist was a consistent figure in the top three results of career aptitude tests I took in junior high school – a curious alignment between the survey’s repertoire and my answers.

Given that these surveys are renowned for their insight and accuracy and that I have decided that I am qualified to decide on the next twenty years of your life, I have magnanimously bestowed this revealing questionnaire upon any lost soul who had the misfortune of stumbling upon this blog. I hope it will take up its rightful place as the deciding factor guiding futures. Of course, twenty years is a long time so this survey will also provided an actionable recipe that you can make for tonight.

Questionnaire

1. Chancing across a coffee shop you hadn’t visited before, it turns out that they serve no unadorned coffee, only flavoured concoctions with obscure names (such as “antiquated agenda” and “dollarstore device”) that reveal nothing about their flavour profile. In desperation you end up pleading with the barista to select something for you that is:

  • a) fruity
  • b) chocolatey
  • c) a good accompaniment for the doughnut you spied in the bakery case
  • d) anything not sweet

2. Thinking back to the most fulfilling experiences in your life, one would conclude that there is nothing more delightful than:

  • a) observing the gentle wisps of steam emerge from a boiling kettle
  • b) listening to the busy churn of a vacuum cleaner one floor above
  • c) folding clothing: the smoothing of creases and cuffing of khaki
  • d) a deep throaty cough

3. Unfortunately, the inscription upon the bronze bust that is to be erected in your honour has only four potential personalization options. Select one, as your commemoration committee has insisted the plaque cannot be left blank:

  • a) I have wasted not, and I have wanted not.
  • b) Taking the long route brought me somewhere else entirely.
  • c) Look no farther than what is at your side.
  • d) Efficiency.

4. Which houseplant best embodies your outlook on life?

  • a) Sciurus carolinensis
  • b) Epipremnum aureum
  • c) Ficus lyrata
  • d) Pilea peperomioides

5. Spare time is best spent engaging in this activity:

  • a) brewing herbal tea
  • b) calibrating your kitchen scale
  • c) the art of lounging
  • d) How I wish I had free time

6. While devising a new potato chip flavour, you realize that there is an untapped wealth of inspiration from inedible objects. You plan to propose the following flavour to the R&D team:

  • a) vaseline
  • b) gravel
  • c) dried paint
  • d) chalk

Results: tally up your responses.

Mostly a’s: We have been thinking the same thing, haven’t we? It is time for the comeback of silent movies. Not a silent movie, not a series of silent movies, but an era of silent movies. And you will play a key role in leading this cinematographic world to its peak. With your touch films will sing with texture and emotion. Without the distraction of voice and sound effect, the viewer will be free to catch the small details that bring magic to simple scenes, whether a flitting change in expression or the tumble of a leaf from a far branch. Hold the wonder of the audience in your fingertips and breath.

Make tonight: rosemary tarragon panna cotta with roasted plums. I feel you – something fruit forward and mush. No chewing to be heard here.

Mostly b’s: I count upon you to take up the legacy I unwisely discarded–that of taxidermy. Glass-eyed and stiff-legged, the art comes endowed with a retro charm that fills me with nostalgia for the small taxidermy wildlife museum I used to visit in my childhood. I trust you too will come to appreciate it.

Make tonight: chocolate walnut and buckwheat tart with pomegranate, the most chocolate-y thing I have on the blog.

Mostly c’s: Now is the perfect time in your life to begin a blog (obviously I speak from unfathomable wisdom, not from bias). There will be no greater pleasure in your life, nor any superseding priority apart from blogging and I will dream of learning from your commitment to the craft. Depending on your personal interests, I recommend the following topics: networking infographics or potpourri.

Make tonight: week-end citron. Fruit-forward?! What’s that? Butter-forward is key. As you seem to be someone near and dear my own heart, I suspect you may get along with a recipe that is also nearest and dearest to me. It’s one of my favourite “snacks”, or unfussy desserts. I won’t describe it any further as I do it much over-justice in the recipe post.

Mostly d’s: I, too, see no other higher calling than that which is singular devotion to the cultivation of green onions. What other future is there apart from basking in the gentle, soothing glow of a field of tender green tips, the aromas released from bruised stalks bringing tears to both our eyes.

Make tonight: black sesame and kinako cookies. These cookies have a savoury bent to them that I love. They’re simple and quick, bur far from boring.

Now if you’ve gotten this far, I promise you that with regards to recipe selection there was thought behind each question (though I wouldn’t qualify the “thought” as rational, well-reasoned, or pragmatic). I tried to opaquely hint at the flavours, time requirements, process and textures of each recipe. Perhaps by doing so through such a bizarre method it will unearth a subconscious drive to make a cake! As for the rest – well, don’t question the algorithm.SAM_0594SAM_0600SAM_0605SAM_0610SAM_0668Lately I’m not entirely sure what path I’ve gotten myself onto, which has made the divinatory properties of aptitude tests gain a certain degree of appeal. I’ve recently had to complete one with regards to my studies, and despite myself I was hoping that it might help me find my place in the field. It didn’t – the results felt as generic as they could be and didn’t particularly resonate. Other classmates told me that it was easy to answer to survey to get the results that they wanted. While at first it felt a bit disappointing that the questionnaire wasn’t actually revealing any deep truths about ourselves, I suppose that’s also the beauty and utility of such a test. It acted as validation of our desires – because deciding that you want something and will work towards it is how you’re going to get there. The test was affirming of our power to become what we want.

So maybe I’m not quite ready for it – given that I answered every question as generically as I could, it gave me little back. I suppose that is because my future isn’t something a survey would feed me, but something I need to sort out for myself. Though my struggles answering the survey may be quite telling as well.

But luckily, thanks to my questionnaire to rule all other questionnaires, you, my dear, have your future all sorted out!caramelized white choc rhubarb cakeLest this cake feel neglected from the talk of other recipes, it’s really a combination of my favourite things: caramelized white chocolate, browned butter, roasted sugar, whole grain spelt flour, cardamom and rhubarb. It does taste like it too. It’s a solid cake, rich, buttery and not lacking in flavour.

caramelized white chocolate rhubarb cake

115g butter

1 tsp cardamom

90g spelt flour

148g a.p. flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

scant 1 tsp kosher salt

150g roasted sugar

4 eggs

1 1/4 tsp vanilla extract

2 tbsp dark rum

80mL heavy cream

2 large stalks rhubarb, chopped

90g caramelized white chocolate, chopped into small pieces (generous 1/4 c)

Preheat oven to 350F. Line the bottom of a round springform pan with parchment paper and butter the sides. I used a 7″ pan, but it ended up being a bit small, so I would recommend an 8 or 9″ round pan.

Place the butter in a small pan and cook over medium heat until butter solids are browned, being sure to stir throughout the browning process. Immediately remove from the heat and mix in the ground cardamom. Set aside to cool and steep.

Whisk together the flours, baking powder and salt in a small bowl.

In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, vanilla, rum and eggs. Slowly pour in the heavy cream, whisking constantly to incorporate. Switch to a spoon to add the flour mixture. Once incorporated, fold in the warm browned butter in two additions. Sprinkle the rhubarb and chocolate over top and mix gently until evenly distributed throughout the batter.

Scrape into the prepared pan and bake until an inserted skewer is removed clean; for me this took an hour and fifteen minutes. you may also find yourself needing to tent the top of the cake with foil if it looks in danger of burning.

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