Cuts, Classmates and Caramel

Three words: zombie chef novel.

There’s a lot of potential there, don’t you think? I need to spend my free time writing one and then I can make money on the side. Because the genre will never be the same after a trip through the brutal kitchens of America.

I apologize I advance for the misspellings and grammar errors that are bound to appear in this post, two of my fingers are out of commission for the day. That would be thanks to Cake Decorating Day and a sparkling, brand new bread knife that took off the top half of my thumb and gouged a deep slit into my left index finger.

Ahh,  nothing like blood and cake at eight in the morning.

You can see where I got my zombie chef novel idea from now, can’t you?

Today was one of those hit-or-miss days. We had two cakes to decorate and three hours for all our production. In a hurry, I didn’t notice the cover wasn’t off my knife. I tried to remove it in haste and–voila!–instant thumb decapitation.

It was careless of me to be so thoughtless with a razor-sharp, yet-unused knife. I ran over to the sink and the first aid kit and tried to sort out the problem, all while trying to stem the awful flow of blood, hoping no one had seen me screw up. I wasn’t so lucky, people rushed over all at once. I felt quite stupid (Its been six months of school, I ought to know better!) But they were all very sweet.

“Here, sit,” someone commanded and pushed a stool under me. Someone else grabbed  my hand and sprinkled powder on it to stop the bleeding and still another spritzed copious amounts of hydrogen peroxide on the wound. (Culinarians we are, nurses we are not.) I felt as though I were in a movie or something. Someone grabbed my hand and made me hold it above my heart while another bandaged it and rolled a cover over top of it.

“Huh,” one of my friends said, staring at my poor thumb. “I would have thought you bled glitter or sugar or something.”

I decided that was a compliment.

In less than five minutes, I was back in production. I hardly even saw the wound myself, I was tended to in mere seconds by my incredibly thoughtful classmates under the kind, watchful eye of my chef instructor. Honestly, their response was amazing to me.

I managed to finish my cakes on time, and they turned out quite well. I was impressed, considering it hurt so badly to squeeze my piping bag. I got full marks,  much to my amazement. The chef handed me a handful of band-aids, some more finger covers and a packet of powder that congeals bleeding.

2014-01-13 12.10.47

“It happens to the best of us,” he said cheerfully. “Just think–battle scars!”

Of course, the day continued to be a rough one. Murphy’s Law, right? I dropped my homemade caramel on the floor as I attempted to carry two cakes, a school bag and a knife kit to my car. It was ruined and made a mess.

I was actually really disappointed. I have a serious weakness for caramel. Luckily, my darling classmates again rushed to my rescue to help me clean. One of them gave me their caramel as a replacement.

“I won’t eat it,” she said. “Just take it.”

Actually, that was great consolation because her caramel had turned out to be rather bitter, so to counteract it, a nice hit of brandy had been added to mellow it out. It was divine.

Moral of the story? Even dramatic days have their bright side, like amazing peers and brandy-infused caramel. And I took two cakes home. (Someone is going to need to roll me out of my apartment after consuming two cakes on my own.)

Also, I’m going to get started on that novel.

[Interested in making your own caramel? I’ll let you in on a secret. It’s insanely easy, just keep an eye on it!]

Caramel Sauce

8 oz sugar


1/4 c Heavy Cream


1. In a clean saucepan, add sugar and enough water to just cover the sugar. (In a pan with any residue or debris, the sugar will begin to crystalize, effectively ruining your caramel.)

2. Do not stir. (It’s hard. I know. Just don’t.) Heat the sugar and water on medium-high heat until it begins to bubble and turn brown. Don’t stir it. Don’t let it get too dark, but allow it color. If it gets too dark, the caramel will taste bitter (which can be remedied by adding about a tablespoon of brandy or whisky to counteract the bitterness, but it won’t taste sweet and smooth.)

3. Once its a golden caramel-y color, take it off the heat and add your heavy cream. Add about 1/4 cup, more or less depending on the color you like your caramel. The more you put in, the lighter it gets. Personal preference! You can stir your caramel now.

4. Let cool and store in an airtight container (a clean one!). It will firm in the refrigerator, but if you leave it out for an hour it will soften enough for you to drizzle it over ice cream (or just eat it with a spoon, like I do.)



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