Note: In honor of the month of lo-o-o-ve (pronounced: luuuv, draw out the â€˜uhâ€™), every post in February will be about gifts you can give your love(s), places to take your love(s), and most importantly, food you will love yourself for eating. February is also my most favorite month of the year and youâ€™ll see why in 10 days.
Ange (read: anzh, 1 syllable; not ang-GEH) or Angelique de la Cruz is whom I call the 16 year old child wonder. A fan of this website, she astounds me with her energy and wide-eyed wonder. Sheâ€™s the teenager I wish I couldâ€™ve been; at her age, all I was doing was trying to pass Chemistry.
Ange is like any regular teenager. She fancies food and fashion and sheâ€™s adept at computers and desktop publishing. Unlike other teenagers however, she already has her own baking business. Aptly called The Sweet Life, the name encompasses life and all the sweetness associated with it. Ange affirms, â€œI am one of those people who associates great memories and moments with good food. I believe that if you are surrounded by good company and amazing food, life can truly be sweet!â€ Amen to that. She bakes a remarkable frozen brazo de mercedes (P500/ 7×11), a custard-meringue phenomenon that I lament not having a photo of. A balikbayan friend from the States hijacked it before I could even snap a photo.
For Valentineâ€™s Day, Ange transforms three of her popular cakes into hearts. One of them, the red velvet cake (P600), is literally, red. Also known as Waldorf cake or red cake, this is basically a vanilla cake kissed by cocoa, and itâ€™s red simply because of the red food coloring used to tint it. Iâ€™ve made this before and itâ€™s really apropos for the day of hearts. As you can see from the photo, Ange decorates this cake with white chocolate hearts (dyed red), and the icing is pure cream cheese and vanilla. This is a cake that screams red, professes love, and for some, pain to the eyes, since I didnâ€™t exactly help it any by placing this cake on a red heart-shaped plate. My fault. Iâ€™m a bit caught up in the â€œredâ€ of it all.
The rather interesting cake above is called a German chocolate cake (P750). Thereâ€™s nothing German about it actually, since itâ€™s American in origin. Named for Sam German who concocted the milk chocolate baking bar that still bears his name â€“ Germanâ€™s Sweet Chocolate â€“ the cake was an invention of a 1957 homemaker. Bedecked in chocolate and frosted with caramel, coconut, and pecans, itâ€™s very popular to this day. Angeâ€™s version does away with the coconut and she puts her unique signature on it by providing an option for a caramel praline filling or a coconut-caramel filling. The photo shows a nuts-caramel filling only.
The two cakes that Iâ€™ve mentioned above are very dense, possessing a tight crumb, perhaps too tight. I daresay that these cakes could use a bit more leavening and less beating. A shorter time in the oven would also benefit these cakes. It canâ€™t be denied however, that these cakes are beauties. And if Ange, at 16, is already this good in the kitchen, I can only imagine how accomplished sheâ€™ll be ten years from now.
Having said that, the one cake made by Ange that I have no quibbles about is her seductively named Chocolate Lust (P550). A fudgy chocolate cake (Ange tells me itâ€™s almost flourless) is the base on which lays a chocolate mousse infused with Baileyâ€™s Irish Cream liqueur. As if that werenâ€™t enough â€“ well, lust is never enough, I suppose â€“ the cake is cloaked in chocolate ganache and then piped with whipped cream rosettes. This temptation must be kept in the freezer and should only be taken out the second youâ€™re about to serve it. The mousse melts unbelievably quickly and I suspect that the presence of alcohol in the cake is responsible for that. Alcohol tends to lower a dessertâ€™s freezing point, thus hastening melting.
When I eat this, my fork glides down the Baileyâ€™s mousse layer until itâ€™s halted by the block of fudge that is the (flourless) chocolate cake. In the mouth, they mix and mingle, with the mousse melting first, naturally, and then the cake. With a dense yet melting texture, a rich taste, and echoes of chocolate, this Chocolate Lust is one of the things that I lust for this Valentineâ€™s.
The Sweet Life by Ange
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