Saturday was a somber day in my apartment. Brazil lost to France in the quarter-finals of the World Cup, just like that day eight years when they were beaten by them in the final. And Daniel, my soccer-obsessed Brazilian husband was broken-hearted.
I never expected France to win, but wouldn't have been surprised if I'd felt a twinge of happiness when they did. Instead, I threw my hands up in frustration whenever they had the ball and my hopeful heart raced the few times Brazil had an opportunity to score. I no longer felt a loyalty to France. Brazil was my team now.
When I was living in Paris in 1998, I didn't know much about soccer. But when the World Cup began, I was immediately swept up by the intense excitement of it all. I loved how Paris's normally pristine streets were flooded with exuberant soccer fanatics from all across the world. I counted down the hours until I could meet my roommates at the The Frog and the Princess to cheer on Zidane, Barthez, and my personal favorite, Emmanuelle Petit. But I, nor many Parisians it seemed, ever anticipated that France would take it all the way, and it was that absence of expectation that made their win so spectacular.
I wrote letters to my friends back home asking if they were following the tournament and many of them seemed uninterested and unaware. I wanted them to understand exactly what I was witnessing, but for those who have experienced it first-hand, words do it no justice. You need to be in a country that worships soccer (which is pretty much any aside from ours), and if possible, you should be living in the country who ends up winning it. I couldn't have planned it better if I'd tried.
When I got back to Lafayette a few months later for my senior year, I moved into a house down the street from Daniel. On moving in day he, who I knew of my name, but didn't recall ever formally meeting, came over to invite me to a BBQ. Aware that he was Brazilian, I decided to tell him that I had been in France when they had beaten Brazil. He referred to that same moment, which I remembered with such joy, as his "day of doom".
And now, France has gone and done it again. Eight years ago, the win was all I could have hoped for, allowing me to march up the Champs Elysees chanting "On a gagne! On a gagne!", even though I was just an American exchange student who'd only recently discovered what this World Cup business was all about. But on Saturday, as strongly as I felt France's win eight years ago, I felt Brazil's loss.
And what do I do when I'm upset about something? Well, I eat of course, and usually something sweet. And when Daniel's down in the dumps, I feed him.
I was eager to try out our standing mixer's ice cream attachment, so when the game was over, I consulted my recipes. I settled on Emeril Lagasse's Chocolate Mint Ice Cream Sandwiches, but because I'm a stickler for homemade sweets, I decided to make chocolate sandwiches using a recipe from Everyday Food instead of buying store-bought cookies. I was starting to feel better already.
While making the ice cream, I struggled with keeping my cream and egg mixture at a gentle boil as Emeril instructed (mine preferred to sputter and roll at quite a rapid rate), and also was too impatient to let it cool completely before adding it to the mixer. Once it was churning away, I set to work on the sandwiches and prepared for what the recipe referred to as very pliable dough. It was in fact, completely impossible to handle. I couldn't keep it from sticking all over my hands and then couldn't stop myself from licking it all off. I cursed my boiling apartment for being so uncooperative, and then directed my frustration toward the Everyday Food recipe that warned me of the possible stickiness, but no advice on how to remedy it. It wasn't until I was transcribing the recipe here that I realized I had included 1 1/2 sticks of butter, a bit more than the 1 1/3 which were actually needed.
Not to digress too much, but this tends to be a problem whenever I bake. While I love to do it, I’m sometimes so eager to get whatever I’m making in the oven, that I skip steps or botch them completely. Take the day before this past Easter, for example, when I tripled the amount of salt in a batch of blondies that I literally could not wait to devour. Raised Catholic, though no longer religious, I’ve been giving up my all-time favorite food group—dessert—since I was about 8; these blondies were to be my first sweet treat on the 20th anniversary of this torturous, self-inflicted ritual.
About a minute after they were out of the oven, I eagerly, or rather, aggressively, bit into a chocolate-studded buttery square longing for the sugary goodness that I had missed so dearly, only to be met by salt, salt and more salt. Perturbed and confused by this overwhelming flavor, I immediately devoured three more thinking that my taste buds just needed to get reacquainted with a taste they’d been denied for so long. But again, all I tasted was salt. I pulled out the recipe and realized my incredibly disappointing but now comical mistake. But after a 40-day fast from sweets, this was no laughing matter. Hopefully, This Little Piglet will help me avoid any more disasters such as this.
Small baking mishaps aside, I’m happy to report that the sandwiches baked up to a nice shade of brunette. The ice cream, cloudlike and flecked with tiny pieces of ice, was a pale sage, much prettier than the fluorescent green flavors I’ve eaten most of my life. The process had been long and frustrating, so I slapped a scoop of ice cream between two slices of sandwich (forgoing the recommended 5 to 10 minutes in the freezer to set), grabbed some spoons and knives, and together, Daniel and I dug in.
We were already breaking ice cream sandwich rules by not going the hand-held route, so I first sampled the ice cream by itself, letting my spoon linger with each bite as the cold, rich flavor, with just the slightest hint of mint, coated the roof of my mouth before slowly dissolving. Next I cut into a corner of the sandwich, pleased with its buttery yet slightly dry crumb which I knew would not fall apart and become soggy when paired with the ice cream. Together, they were a pretty perfect package in my opinion. Who needed a true sandwich anyway?
As for Daniel, he didn’t fall for this particular dessert quite as quickly as I did, or actually at all. While eating, he complained about the ice cream’s strong sugary flavor and lack of mint, and he also mentioned more than once that the chocolate sandwiches were too dry. He didn’t linger over his serving slowly the way I did, or ponder a second helping while only halfway through his first. While I was already typing out this particular post in my head and thinking about all the other frozen treats I’d be whipping up this summer, he was still in the middle of his second “day of doom” and even a big bowl of ice cream topped with cocoa-laced squares wasn’t going to snap him out of it.
The next night, we went to see Superman, one of those movies that require me to practice my compromising skills. But what normally would have felt like a never-ending 157 minutes flew by, my mind racing with thoughts about my blog, other topics I wanted to write about, recipes and restaurants I could report on. When I looked over at Daniel, he had his signature huge, goofy grin plastered across his face. As I watched him watch his childhood superhero save the world again, I knew that his day of doom was coming to an end.
On our walk home, my mind still stuck on food blogging, I asked what flavor we should make next in our ice cream maker. I’d recently found a recipe that would put some pink peppercorns languishing in our kitchen cabinet since Christmas to use. He, still giddy from the movie, flashed me that big smile once again before confirming that his day of doom was officially over. Mango, one of his all-time favorite fruits, would be put to the test next. But until then, we had a hint of mint ice cream and extra buttery chocolate sandwiches to hold us over.
Grasshopper Ice Cream Sandwiches
Adapted from Everyday Food
2/3 cup (1 1/3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for baking sheet
1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus more for baking sheet
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 quart mint chocolate-chip ice cream, softened (Note: I made Emeril Lagasses's
Chocolate Mint Ice Cream and left out the chocolate chips)
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter a 10-by-15 inch rimmed baking sheet; dust with flour, tapping out excess. Set aside. In a bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt.
2. Cream butter and sugar until smooth. Add eggs and vanilla; beat until light and fluffy. With mixer on low, gradually beat in flour mixture. Pat dough into a rectangle. Wrap in plastic, refrigerate 30 minutes.
3. Roll out dough between wax paper into a 10-by-15 inch rectangle. Remove top paper; use the bottom to flip dough onto a prepared sheet. Score into 20 squares with a paring knife. Pierce holes over squares.
4. Bake until just firm, 8 to 10 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through. Cut into squares; let cool completely.
5. Sandwich ice cream between two cookies. Wrap in plastic; freeze to set 5 to 10 minutes. Serve plain, or place on plates, and drizzle with hot fudge.
Yield: 10 sandwiches