We all sat around the table. (Father was away again.) I was thrilled. I had watched Mandy bake the cake and Bertha sew the gown and Nathan pick the flowers.
Mandy cut the cake. When she handed me my piece, she said without thinking, “Eat.”
The first bite was delicious. I finished the slice happily. When it was gone, Mandy cut another. That one was harder. When it was gone, no one gave me more, but I knew I had to keep eating. I moved my fork into the cake itself.
“Ella, what are you doing?” Mother said.
“Little piggy.” Mandy laughed. “It’s her birthday, Lady. Let her have as much as she wants.” She put another slice on my plate.
I felt sick, and frightened. Why couldn’t I stop eating?
Swallowing was a struggle. Each bite weighed on my tongue and felt like a sticky mass of glue as I fought to get it down. I started crying while I ate.
Mother realized first. “Stop eating, Ella,” she commanded.
Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine, 5/5 stars
Ella Enchanted has been my favorite book since I was twelve. I’ve read it at least a dozen times. Most recently, I re-read it for book club and was nervous it wouldn’t stand the test of time, especially with how much I had hyped it up in my mind.
Spoiler: it did. For me and everyone else in the book club, whether it was one of their old favorites or their first time reading it.
It’s also the ultimate love story, so of course I had to team it with my Valentine’s Day post. I was inspired by Ella’s birthday cake and wanted to make something that would truly be a show-stopper. Plus, Brice and I binge-watched the Great American Baking Show and I became obsessed with doing some proper chocolate work.
I usually have a love/hate relationship with cake. They’re fun to make, but it’s never a go-to dessert for me, because it’s usually so heavy and sweet, especially when filled with frosting. These three layers of fluffy red velvet cake sandwiching a light and fresh raspberry cream filling, topped with white chocolate frosting and dark chocolate decor are a perfect balance, though. No “sticky masses of glue” here.
For the chocolate work, I highly recommend using a thermometer with a digital reader. I did not and my temperatures were slightly off meaning my tempered chocolate was a little streaky and wasn’t setting as well as I would have liked. For my first time tempering chocolate, it worked out well enough.
Here are the recipes I used:
Paula Deen’s Red Velvet Cake – the only thing I changed was the amount of food coloring. I had a .25 ounce container, some of which I used for these mini princess cakes. I just tossed in the remainder of the container. (An ounce just sounded excessive!)
- Before tempering the chocolate, I traced onto wax paper with a pencil the words and hearts that I wanted to make.
- Once I’d tempered the chocolate, I poured the chocolate into a piping bag with a medium sized tip. I experimented with different tips and the tiny tips were harder to work with.
- Outline your shapes and words. I free-handed some of them as well. Just have fun.
Just don’t force your Valentine to eat more than desired, like poor Ella. (Not that they’ll be able to stop eating it!)