dressing up a dresser

last spring i decided to upgrade my old dresser. it was from target, and chosen swiftly during the sea change that is post-college life. darkly paneled, with brushed steel handles, the dresser looked nice enough sitting on the sterile target shelves. i've used it for four solid years now and despite a couple of scratches and chips, it has held up remarkably well for something under $75. all this being said, i've never had any particular devotion to it, seeing it as less "mine" than something i use.

so, during last spring's room-renovation, while i was scouring craigslist for furniture, i came upon a very dear cream dresser. it is solid wood with some classy, yet whimsical woodwork at the bottom and top. when the owner mentioned to me that it was his childhood dresser, whilst growing up in park slope, i was sold. i imagined rubber handballs hidden in amongst the underwear and grubby nickels stuffed in a sock. this dresser, with its rich history, could feel like it was mine.

but not without some help. the cream paint (at least two decades old) was stripped with the help of a power sander. (fyi, take a lesson from me and wear a mask when power sanding. i cannot stress to you how gross it is if you don't!) i applied a coat of primer, then two coats of a dusty blue/green. new knobs had to be found and installed, requiring new holes to be drilled and old ones epoxied over. i even had a vinyl sticker custom made (thanks etsy!) depicting wildflowers in riotously bright colors. and to top it all off (literally) a piece of glass cut to fit and protect the dresser's top.

now, i feel like this is mine uniquely, and all the more satisfying because it was the product of my own two hands. but, ironically enough, it sits unused in the spare bedroom, as i can't yet bear to part with my target dresser. i guess change, no matter how much i want it, is always hard for me. even with a dresser.

boston creme pie

oh dear god! it's been so long since i wrote you must have forgotten about me. i'm so sorry.
i've been busy, as i'm sure you all are. this is no good excuse. the summer is already scurrying by, trying not to be bothersome in the midst of all this work. there have been some good moments, along with a new fast housefriend. there has also been quite a bit of thinking, hoping, crying, and wondering. my hair is long enough to braid, and i try to wear skirts everyday. this is the calm before the storm maybe?

in any case, one of my goals this summer is to single-handedly repopularize the boston creme pie. this classic dessert isn't a pie at all, but a cake filled with pudding, first made at boston's parker house hotel in 1855. and it's not called a classic for nothing, each one of its components is traditional home grown comfort food- fluffy yellow cake, rich vanilla pudding, and stick-to-the-roof-of-your-mouth chocolate frosting. there have been many a time in my life when just one of those was enough to turn my bad day around. all three together is an embarrassment of riches, really.

to be made sparingly. i think we should keep this trifecta of comfort for those most dire of times. which, it seems in your late twenties, is often!

boston creme pie, adapted from me!

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups hot milk
3 large egg yolks, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla

mix sugar, flour and salt in a large heavy saucepan. gradually stir in the hot milk with a whisk. cook the mixture over moderate heat while stirring constantly until slightly thickened. slowly stir in approximately 1/4 cup the hot mixture into the beaten egg yolks. next add the yolks to the balance of the hot mixture and cook, stirring constantly until the mixture is fully thickened to a custard-like consistency and coats a spoon. remove from heat and stir in the vanilla. let cool completely

two 9-inch cakes
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs
2 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/4 cups milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

take the butter out of the fridge to soften and preheat the oven to 350°F. prepare two 9-inch round pans by greasing them thoroughly with butter or non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening. you can also flour them, if you want, although this isn't strictly necessary. sprinkle a little flour over them, tilt and shake to distribute evenly, then tap out the excess over the sink.

mix the ingredients together in the order they're listed - creaming the softened butter and sugar first, then adding the eggs, flour, salt, baking powder, and finally the liquids. using an electric beater, beat everything together on low for 30 seconds, then high for 3 minutes.

immediately pour into the prepared pans and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the tops spring back slightly when pressed.
let cool on wire racks for at least 15 minutes, then flip each pan over onto the rack and tap gently all over. lift the pan slightly. if the cake doesn't feel like it's falling out smoothly, lay a slightly damp kitchen towel over the pan and tap again.

cool completely.

6 ounces good-quality semisweet chocolate, broken into small pieces
3/4 stick unsalted butter
2 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla

melt the chocolate and butter in a good-sized bowl suspended over a pan of simmering water. go slowly- you don't want any burning or seizing.

while this is melting, put the powdered sugar into the food processor and pulse to remove lumps.

add the corn syrup to the cooled chocolate mixture, followed by the sour cream and vanilla and then when all this is pour this mixture down the funnel of the food processor onto the powdered sugar, with the motor running.

put it all together:
when everything has been fully cooled, frost just the top of one of the cakes, piling the frosting high. then, spoon the pudding on the top of the other cake. gently place the chocolate frosted cake on top of the pudding covered cake. if you want to be fancy, you can put some powdered sugar on top. be careful when cutting it- the pudding may sploosh out the sides!
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