Guests would ask about how I was able to bake so many cakes and have them turn out. To which I would always reply 'lots of ruined cakes.'
I'm now older than I was in college, and I've been baking during all of the intervening years, and so reason would suggest that perhaps the cakes don't get ruined anymore. Reason, however, would be wrong.
Today Brandon asked for some sort of dessert. As today was Fast Friday, I had been thinking about desserts, and had been wanting 'millionaire shortbread,' a concoction of layered shortbread, caramel, and chocolate. The recipe calls for caramel made by boiling a can of sweetened condensed milk. Last time I made the recipe (about halfway between dessert night and now), the caramel had been runny and squished out between the chocolate and shortbread when I bit it.
I'm always in search for the absolute best way to do anything, especially for my desserts. And so I looked for a recipe for caramel made the old-fashioned way with a candy thermometer. I boiled it to the 'firm ball' stage, spread it on the shortbread, cooled it, and finished with the chocolate.
After getting the girls ready for bed and rushing through scriptures, we all eagerly awaited our candy confection as the girls watched me get the knife out to neatly slice up our treat. I plunged in the knife. It skidded through the chocolate. I tried again. It went in a quarter inch. I put my shoulder into my work, and I heard a cracking sound. I lifted out the first piece.
Out came crumbles of shortbread and shards of caramel. Sophia greedily grabbed a piece and stuffed it into her mouth. After chewing a few minutes, she began crying. The caramel was stuck to her teeth and was hurting her cheek. I tried a piece. My jaws started hurting from the work, and I too was picking caramel from my teeth.
And so, the pan sits in the kitchen, with only a few small pieces taken out, a testament to the dangers of deviating from a recipe. Two hours gone, and only sore jaws to show for it. Sigh.