With a two-person household, baking an entire birthday cake is sort of a recipe for dietary disaster. So we generally look for alternative, portion controlled, birthday desserts. For Jeff’s birthday one year, I bought two single-serving cheesecakes from The Confectional at Pike Place Market (yum!). For my birthday last year, I asked Jeff to pick up a two-serving portion of tiramisu from Tutta Bella (swoon!).
Late last week, I was noodling about what to do for Jeff’s birthday, when an answer arrived in the form of a Groupon for Full Tilt, an artisanal ice cream shop in a nearby neighborhood that I didn’t even know existed. I cleared the idea with the birthday boy (there was a brouhaha several years back when I said I didn’t want a cake and he got me a blueberry muffin, so we’ve since made it a point to be sure about these things), and off we went.
I, as is my usual MO, was jonesing for something chocolate. They had a Swiss Chocolate Orange, a Peanut Butter Chocolate, Mexican Chocolate and Chocolate Lemon. This last one got me really excited, because, as I learned in baking and pastry school a few years back, while orange and chocolate is a universally acknowledged classic flavor pairing, lemon and chocolate is not.
I want to say that renowned French pastry god Pierre Herme is the one who executed the lemon/chocolate union with a deft hand and brought it out of the shadows, but I can’t swear that I’m remembering correctly. He is quite renowned for his unique flavor combinations, so I think I’m right.*
Anyway, the birthday boy got to choose, and for Choice #1 he went with a pumpkin that wasn’t quite as pumpkiny as we would have liked, but still very, very good.
For Choice #2 he went with (I think I’m remembering this right), Cluster(folk)life with Granola. This was totally delish! All cinnamony, with chunks of chocolate-covered Graham crackers and granola and I’m not sure what else. Really, really good.
I don’t eat ice cream often (it’s not exactly healthy, is it?), so when I do it has to be top notch quality. It has to be worth the splurge on calories, fat and sugar (I don’t do sugar-free, fat-free “ice cream,” because I fail to see the point). I will definitely be visiting Full Tilt again. Both varieties were fresh and creamy-smooth and full of flavor. I just hope they still have the Chocolate Lemon!
* Wait! This just in:
Imagine my surprise when I discovered that I have a Pierre Herme book in my collection, Desserts by Pierre Herme.(Yes, I forget these things sometimes, so sue me.) Anyway, one of the to-die-for desserts is the Rivera, a cake composed of layers of dark chocolate flourless cake (thin and chewy), darker bittersweet mousse (deceptively light and unmistakably rich) and sunshine-yellow lemon cream (buttery, custardy and terrifically tart). Yeah, I know, that sounds horrible. I looks horrible, too:
And now, from the book’s text, I quote: “Mixing up flavors and textures is one of Pierre’s hallmarks, as is the trick of putting together tastes bitter and acid. But, as Pierre cautions, mixing chocolate and lemon only works when the balance, always a delicate matter, is perfect. ‘Bitter and acidic flavors don’t make an easy marriage. To make the relationship work, it’s important to have a chocolate that’s more sweet than bitter.’ “
And there you have it!