Friday, September 02, 2005

Ring-a-ding dong

It's shameless, I admit. But I did it. I put a ding dong on my menu.

I'd say it was the kid in me, but my mom gave us rice crackers with peanut butter, fruit leather, and nori as snacks when we were kids. Perhaps it's the part of me that thrives on nostalgia, or the girl in me that loves all things cute that led to the campy hostess treats appearance on the menu this week.

This miniature vanilla cream filled devils food cake is covered in a rich chocolate glaze, and then decorated with white chocolate piping. And this isn't your run of the mill chocolate cake. The recipe uses 4 shots of espresso and a healthy dose of buttermilk. The filling is a rich vanilla buttercream rather than the crisco whipped with corn syrup that would mimic the commercial product. The resulting treat is moist, rich, and delicate.... Really a fork and knife affair rather than the hand held version that comes wrapped in foil.

Yes, I know I have decorated the ding dong with the traditional hostess cupcake garnish. And before the chocolate glaze is applied, the cake resembles a Suzy-Q more than a ding dong. So it's really a medley of Hostess treats all participating in this nostalgic delight.

The ding dong does not stand alone....

Instead, it is participating in the After School Snack. Eva has a slot on the dessert menu called "The Eva Trio". This is an unchanging frame for me to play with. As a tribute to the children's return to school, I chose to do a playful take on nostalgic treats of childhood.

On the left is obviously the ding dong in all it's glory. In the center are three tiny lemon bars. And on the right is the vanilla/orange creamsicle swirl ice cream that we used to eat out of those plastic cups with the tiny wooden spoon. (If only I could get my hands on the tiny wooden spoons.) Garnishing the plate is a "circus" of animal crackers.

I started off using a recipe meant to replicate the original Barnums Circus Animals that come in the little circus train car box with a string handle. The recipe used corn flour, which I liked. But the resulting flavor was that of, well, cardboard. So for now I have reverted to Pierre Herme's fragrant orange tart dough (very tender, very flavorful) while I develop a recipe that incorporates the corn flour.

This is a rather untraditional circus. But if you think of it as a Pacific Northwest Circus, then it works. Here we have the parade of animals being led on the right by my favorite character, the Moose. Behind him is a pony, a pig, a bunny, and an elephant. Since this photo was taken 3 more animals have joined my circus.... A chicken, a goat, and thanks to my mom, a salmon.

Amy and James recently entertained their two nephews who offered help in researching this plate. They did however inform us that Animal Crackers are not snack to be had after school, rather, you eat them during school.

So after the grown ups send the little ones off to school with lunch sacks full of goodies, they can come in and enjoy a few of their own.


Anonymous John said...

I would come for the ding dong, if I wasn't on the opposite coast.
Its a serious desert that doesn't take itself too seriously. It is the sweet equivelant of Keller's grilled cheese and tomato soup.

Mine your childhood-great m.o.

Congrats. Hope its popular, so its still on the menu when I'm back home.

September 02, 2005 1:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh man, Dana! That rocks! If I weren't all the way over in jolly ol' England I'd be ordering up that hostess cupcake as well! Nice work!

September 03, 2005 1:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Pacific Northwest circus is really adorable!

I enjoy reading your weblog very much; I love to eat food & read about food, and it's fascinating seeing some of the thought processes that go on behind the dessert tray scenes.

Laura (watergarden at gmail dot com)

September 20, 2005 12:56 PM  
Blogger Dana said...

John- thanks for the keller comparison. Definately on a bit different level. but same play on nostalgia. hope you do get to taste it

Todd- thanks. Have you started to crave bad american treats yet? after a year in germany all my sister wanted was a waxy bar of hersheys.

Laura- I too am seeing for the first time many of the thought processes that go on behind the dessert tray. Managing a menu is a very new challenge for me.

September 29, 2005 9:33 AM  
Anonymous Mom said...

That was the best Ding Dong I ever had!!!! now I'm waiting for a Twinkie, ok?


October 10, 2005 3:07 AM  
Blogger a. said...

this is really great!
well done here!!!

October 23, 2005 6:02 PM  

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