Monday, June 7, 2010

Schmoo To You, Winnipeg

Dear Mouse,
There are many ways to answer the question 'What is Winnipeg?' For example:

It's the capital city of the Canadian province of Manitoba.
It's where you and I and spent last weekend at our friend's beautiful wedding.
It's the home of Tim Horton's, a coffee shop chain that strikes fear into my heart for reasons I can't quite fathom.
It's the city where our dear friend and former New Yorker the Cat Lady lives with her new husband, the Nicest Guy in the World (NGIW, going forward)
It's (as the kind lady from the city of Regina put it on my flight over) "just one big Regina". And yes, she pronounced it like that. (I'll wait).


It's the home of this cake.

I can stop looking. I've found (him?her?it? whatever), the cake of my dreams.

First some context. Camera, zoom out. Mind, prepare to be blown.

Ladies and gentlemen, the wedding cakes. CAKES. Twenty-two, to be precise. Who knew you could do that? Cat Lady tells us it cost the same as ONE traditional wedding cake which would have been, you know, all white and tall and eaten by no one.

So I know I've had a bit of a theme going this year about Sarah Leah Chase and the various ways she's both nurtured and disappointed me, and I'm just going to go there one more time. In the Open House Cookbook, she has a recipe for something called a French Nut Icebox Cake which she describes as "creamy, crunchy, and intensely nutty, all at the same time". (Yes, Mouse, that was from memory.) I've never made it because -and perhaps here I'm revealing too much about myself- I am so sure it cannot possibly live up to this description. Over the years I've fantasized some really great desserts that might be like it, but I had come to accept that I would never, in fact, taste it in reality. (In my defense, the ingredients involved ladyfingers, which do nothing for me. Also - Icebox cakes: Meh.)

But what a diference a day (and a flight to northern Canada) makes. As I said, there were 22 cakes!!! to choose from. But the moment I laid eyes on (him?her?it?whatever), I knew it was The One. Not even the unfortunate name ("Schmoo" apparently is just an affectionate nickname for the caramel sauce) could deter me from this More Perfect Union.

The thing that pains me is that I know however I describe it here it's not going to sound like much. It's basically a light spongy pecan cake layered with whipped cream, textured with chopped nuts, and drizzled with caramel sauce. There are, of course, variations, but that's basically it. To give you a better idea of the experience, I'll just say that while researching this post, the Internet suggested the following as "Related Searches": Earth Layers, Seizure Types, The Antichrist, Heaven, Hell, Love, and Egypt. Yep. This cake is that apocalyptic, that mythological, that universally themed. Its allure and relevance know no bounds (unless you dont like caramel or something, but... what?)

I have yet to make it, but just to get it out there, this recipe looks pretty solid. On a completely unrelated note, my birthday is coming up pretty soon.


The Boo

PS. The delightful blog Mennonite Girls Can Cook (yes), suggests a version with bananas, claiming that "banana and schmoo just belong together, a marriage made in heaven". Like this one:

photos here by Joe Zarrow and by LuckyGirl Photography


ASobler said...

Amazing. How long have I been referred to as Cat Lady?

And also, don't forget about Winnipeg: It is the Cultural Capital of Canada in 2010, not just the Cake Capital.

The Cuckoo said...

For my next wedding (I reckon you need a couple of goes at putting on an event to get it right) I'm having lots of cakes. That is a genius idea. Especially as wedding cake in England is traditionally made from fruit cake (seriously).

Isn't "schmoo" and bananas banoffee pie?

Anonymous said...

what a creative out-of-the-box idea! and they look so beautiful (the bride and groom, that is)...gorgeous memorable fabulous couple!