When you unearth an ingredient in the kitchen you know you’ll never use, you have a few options. You can give it to your neighbors and make some friends. You can dump it to save yourself the trouble. Or you could figure out a way to use it.
In my case, I have successfully avoided interacting with anyone in my apartment complex for two years and counting. I have never learned to let things go. And my hobby is finishing off ingredients by finding and executing recipes that make me buy even more ingredients I rarely use.
This time, I was trying to disappear a small carton of heavy whipping cream that my last roommate had left in the fridge after moving out. I had a pots de crème recipe from America’s Test Kitchen—Mom and I once went on a cruise that had no other real entertainment than live cooking shows so we accumulated, like, five sheets each—and thought I’d knock out two birds with one wasted afternoon.
I enlisted the help of the same friend who’d “cooked” zoodles with me before.
Friend: Pots de cream? What’s that?
Friend: Eh, doesn’t matter. I’m down.
Me: Can you get 5 oz of chocolate? I’ve got everything else.
Sometimes, when I can’t think of anything I’m really good at, I remember my uncanny ability to learn nothing from past experience. Even after the zoodles debacle, I was going to do some quick maths before cooking.
The recipe called for 16oz of heavy whipping cream (in total, ¾ of it for the custard and ¼ for the whipped cream.) I only had the 8oz carton, so I had to halve the total, meaning I’d need 3/8 and 1/8 the original amount of cream.
The recipe also called for a stand mixer and grater, which seemed fairly important but also like a bridge we could cross when we got to it.
In the meantime, I hyped up my upcoming cooking session with Friend to everyone else who’d listen.
Me: I’m making pots de crème with Friend tomorrow.
TDM: Pots day cream?
I shook my head. There are only two pronunciations of pots de crème. One is “poe-duh-krem.” The other is “I’m better than you.”
When Friend arrived the next day with the chocolate, we started using knives to grate the chocolate. She’d brought 7oz and would regularly break off pieces for us to eat as we worked.
I began making the custard. I was supposed to remove it from the stove at 175 degrees, but I had no food thermometer. I didn’t even have a human thermometer. But presuming they worked similarly, my plan, based on childhood experience, was to just tell the custard it was fine and could still go to school.
Four hours later, we returned to start making whipped cream, which is when I broke the news that we had no stand mixer, just a whisk. I looked up an article that said you could still make whipped cream by hand if you just whisked hard enough.
(In hindsight, I wonder if that article was like that decade-old prank in which you tricked people into miming something indecent by telling them if they mimed shaking salt into their mouth, they could taste it. That was the moment I learned to trust no one.)
After whisking, our “whipped” “cream” looked frothy and very much liquid. Apparently this was how the mixture should look like after the first stage of low-speed whisking, despite how furiously we were working. So we thought, “who do we think we are, anyway,” and just poured in the cream.
It was delicious. Of course, it’s hard to mess up a recipe with ingredients that all taste good in their own right.
Later, after Friend left, I started putting back the last ingredients. As I opened the fridge for the heavy whipping cream, I froze.
Why was there still heavy whipping cream?
I looked at the carton. Astonished, I realized it actually read 16oz and not 8oz, meaning I hadn’t needed to halve the recipe. And after all that, I once again had the problem of having an ingredient I don’t really use, except now I had even less of it. I thought about making another batch and remembered Friend and I had eaten the rest of the chocolate.
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