Notes towards Maple Ambrosia: a colon-separated title
The Plokta cabal is fond of food excesses. And we'd been wanting to use an article by Andrew Plotkin for some time. So we immediately pounced on this one. Lois McMaster Bujold described the stuff. She describedwell, avoiding spoilers, it's a creamy dessert goo made with maple mead. Sweet, buttery, redolent of maple and sudden alcoholic death.
Maple Ambrosia doesn't exist, and thus it is necessary to invent it. What else is science fiction for? Research began last week.
"Bread is not soup; soup is not salad; salad is not dinner; and dinner is not dessert. Dessert is the best"
We have historical precedent. The Graydon legends of prehistory speak of the chocolate elk, a goo which is sweet (check), buttery (check), and contains enough chocolate to fell the eponymous ungulate in its tracks. (Hoo ha!) Can we get here from there?
"That's a success."
Goob, when confronted with 12 oz
semisweet chocolate, 2 cups heavy cream,
and 5 tablespoons of sugar, heated in a
double-boiler until thick, which usually takes at
least an hour. Stir constantly and be patient.
Heretical though it may be, white chocolate exists. One can even find real white chocolate if one looks, made from cocoa butter, as opposed to the occult White Baking Substance that my grocery store sells. I already own some real maple syrup. (Vermont maple syrup, and it's got the name of a town in Vermont and a zip code, so I don't want to hear no lip.) For the alcohol, I bought some dark rum.
I rig a double-boiler from stone bears and knifeskins, and commence.
Me, to the Telemarketer of Ur-Yasothoth,
who rings my phone in the middle
of a two-hour stirring marathon
After several geological ages, I begin to suspect that white chocolate behaves differently from the dark semisweet. My elk had firmed up in less than an hour. This stuff is still liquid after two. Of course, I made that elk in Goob's astonishing aluminum double-boiler, not this makeshift horror. Or perhaps the difference is the half-cup of maple syrup I substituted for the sugaranother half-cup of water to be boiled off. Or perhaps the Telemarketer has enmeshed my soul in the Cynosure of Asymptotic Time, as punishment for not buying his Newspaper Subscription from the Outer Darkness. No, that can't be rightit's almost time for Star Trek.
"My elk had firmed up in less than an hour."
Me, if quoted out of context, and who wouldn't?
At T plus two and a half hours, I give up and pull it from the heat. Now for the rum. Four tablespoons should do. Four instant tiny lines of bubbles mark the departure of the alcohol, as I remember relative boiling points. Oops. I put it in the fridge and go watch lousy science fiction.
"Lecture lecture lecture."
The writers of Star Trek: Voyager
The next day, it's still not set firmly.
The goo terrifies me. Ice cold, it has the consistency of tepid caramel. You can scoop out a spoonful, but a sticky ribbon will stretch off the spoon and dribble across the counter and make a mess. It's too sweet. Clearly the cocoa solids add both bitterness and solidity to the elk recipe, and my experiment sorely lacks both.
I could add less maple syrup, but how then shall it be mapley?
"I couldn't eat it, so I added three cups of flour and baked it."
Me, after Experiment One. Came out as very nice white-chocolate maple brownies. (Blondies?)
I borrow the +2 Elven Boiler of Heat-Conduction from Goob. Experiment Two.
Twelve ounces white chocolate, a half-cup of maple syrup, two cups of heavy cream. Now it thickens up. The requisite two and a half hours later, I have... a heavy, oily, barely translucent liquid that stops swirling in less than a second when stirred. The elk got much thicker, and was more attractive to boot, but I'll take this.
Remove from heat, stir wildly. It must get cooler! Cooler! Okay, it's cool enough. Dump in four tablespoons of rum. No fractional distillation today. Stir more wildly. Oh, it's getting thinner. Those four tablespoons of liquid have undone at least half an hour of double-boiling. We shall endure, now and forever.
Into the fridge with thee.
I still haven't gotten it right. This stuff is... almost waxy. Not as gooey, but still too sweet. Can you buy unsweetened white chocolate? Pure cocoa butter? I can't think of anything else that might help.
The rum isn't noticeable, and I dare not add more.
Nor less maple syrup.
Perhaps I should skip the rum and maple syrup entirely instead, add a quarter-cup of grain alcohol and some Artificial Maple Flavoring. The horror. Canadians around the world would immigrate to march protests at my doorstop.
A pot of Experiment Two remains in the fridge. I shall bring it to my friends' Thanksgiving dinner. I scored plenty of points with the elk last spring; this shouldn't lose me all of them, right? Right?
The Maple Ambrosia drifts still beyond my reach.
Defeated, I sink into the West.
"They are the perfect food."
Eeyore, describing some cayenne chocolate truffles at Philcon
Hey, maybe I could make those... (Hark, a distant flourish of trumpets, ringing beyond the sunset!)
"Let butter, cream, and cocoa come to pass Capsaicin shall bite you in the end."