Remember that episode on F.R.I.E.N.D.S where Rachael and Chandler eat cheesecake off the floor, and minutes later Joey shows up, takes out a fork out of nowhere and digs in too?
When you meet crazy, you go crazy and do crazy. That according to me should be the norm. As far as I am concerned, I have embraced craziness differently at different phases in life. I became food frenzy only after I realized that mom’s food is not perennial. It started with nostalgia during undergrad days when good food in the hostel became nothing but an oxymoron. And us bunch of malnourished F.R.I.E.N.D.S. was always ready to pounce at “actual” good food at the drop of a hat. I will address this crazy bunch as “Room 217” for the lack of any other unified term, and also for purposes of effectively making everyone feel at home, because that is what Room 217 was (in fact still is in my heart) – a home. Food, feelings and friendship united us. From gobbling up pages of a book for the greed of grades to gobbling up pan fried noodles at our favorite coffee house way past the hostel curfew, we have done it all.
The black forest gateau takes me back in time to Room 217. Birthdays were special not only because of the nature of the day, but also because of the going-out-of-way efforts put by the bunch in order for the day to be forever etched in history. There was the usual cake (chocolate or vanilla or butterscotch), a well thought out decor, and you-know-you-have-to-act-surprised moment, and so much love. And then there was that birthday treat where the bunch hogged as if the day after the birthday until the next one were the beginning of an apocalypse and the eventual end of the world.
The last year of Room 217 was a lifetime squeezed into 365 days (or less). Any normal day was a celebration sans the cake. And a birthday was bigger and better where the cake was not the usual. It was black forest. Adorned with cherries and chocolate shavings this cake had cream and fluff in every bite of the sumptuous cherry soaked chocolate cake. That was a feast in our mouths. And we were a bunch of happy souls. Of the myriad delicacies that exist on the face of the earth, the Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte (as the Germans call it) was the trademark of our final year birthday celebrations. In retrospect I guess that was the highest honor for the bunch on their (respective) D-days. Much like Rachael, Chandler and Joey, we would have eaten that cake off the floor. ( I can say the same for a lot of other desserts!)
Last weekend I could not resist picking up a whole bag of cherries from the super market. And as I reminisced about the time spent in and with Room 217, I knew I had to bake this beauty. I was enchanted by the process of assembling this torte. And I was intrigued and anxious to see what I could render. Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte (Black Forest gateau and Black Forest cake are the English names of this German dessert) gets its name from a specialty liquor of the Black Forest (Schwarzwald) region of Germany called the Schwarzwälder Kirsch(wasser) and distilled from tart cherries. This is what lends that unique flavor to the dessert.
Most of the recipe posts that I read strictly instructed on using Kirsch to stay true to the meaning of the torte. And I was determined to use the same. On a scorching Saturday morning I walked up to the super market only to be disappointed that they do not carry the rai·son d’ê·tre of the dessert. I could have walked to the nearest liquor store but the 90 degree weather stopped me. I settled for a cherry flavored vodka instead. Any German reading this will be highly disappointed. I myself was not content, but I had the urge to bake and so I decided to accomplish it with whatever I could find (the Room 217 birthday black forest cakes were delectable yet alcohol free anyway 🙂 ). Hence this is not a recipe post, but just a memory and a delightful baking experiment/experience put into words. As I sit here alone and write this, I have already gobbled up half the cake in two days. The Room 217 cake never lasted beyond few hours past midnight (we were resistant to putting on weight then, phew!), but the memory is forever!
P.S. Recipe courtesy http://www.joyofbaking.com/BlackForestCake.html with edits.