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Wedding Girl

Stacey Ballis

Top 10 Best Quotes

“There will be a cauldron of spiced hot cider, and pumpkin shortbread fingers with caramel and fudge dipping sauces as our freebies, and I've done plenty of special spooky treats. Ladies' fingers, butter cookies the shape of gnarled fingers with almond fingernails and red food coloring on the stump end. I've got meringue ghosts and cups of "graveyard pudding," a dark chocolate pudding layered with dark Oreo cookie crumbs, strewn with gummy worms, and topped with a cookie tombstone. There are chocolate tarantulas, with mini cupcake bodies and legs made out of licorice whips, sitting on spun cotton candy nests. The Pop-Tart flavors of the day are chocolate peanut butter, and pumpkin spice. The chocolate ones are in the shape of bats, and the pumpkin ones in the shape of giant candy corn with orange, yellow, and white icing. And yesterday, after finding a stash of tiny walnut-sized lady apples at the market, I made a huge batch of mini caramel apples.”

“Chicago is a city of neighborhoods. We aren’t trying to be all things to all people; we just want to be good neighbors. What’s more Chicago than that?” “You”

“Can I offer you a slice of this amazing caramelized white chocolate apricot brioche made by my favorite granddaughter?" "You may indeed." When you slice the rich, buttery bread topped with crunchy bits of pearl sugar, you get a swirl of white chocolate, which now also has hints of caramel flavor from having been roasted, and chunks of apricot. It is a good one. Herman loved it and immediately said we would have it in the rotation all summer and to order more apricots. Bubbles hands me two thick pieces of my bread, lightly toasted and lavished with butter. It is delicious, if I do say so myself.”

“Your dream died? Fine. Give it a decent burial and dream a new dream.”

“With the heady scent of yeast in the air, it quickly becomes clear that Langer's hasn't changed at all. The black-and-white-checked linoleum floor, the tin ceiling, the heavy brass cash register, all still here. The curved-front glass cases with their wood counter, filled with the same offerings: the butter cookies of various shapes and toppings, four kinds of rugelach, mandel bread, black-and-white cookies, and brilliant-yellow smiley face cookies. Cupcakes, chocolate or vanilla, with either chocolate or vanilla frosting piled on thick. Brownies, with or without nuts. Cheesecake squares. Coconut macaroons. Four kinds of Danish. The foil loaf pans of the bread pudding made from the day-old challahs. And on the glass shelves behind the counter, the breads. Challahs, round with raisins and braided either plain or with sesame. Rye, with and without caraway seeds. Onion kuchen, sort of strange almost-pizza-like bread that my dad loves, and the smaller, puffier onion rolls that I prefer. Cloverleaf rolls. Babkas. The wood-topped cafe tables with their white chairs, still filled with the little gossipy ladies from the neighborhood, who come in for their mandel bread and rugelach, for their Friday challah and Sunday babka, and take a moment to share a Danish or apple dumpling and brag about grandchildren.”

“Whether you're a bride or a birthday boy, your options are much the same. Cake comes in chocolate, yellow, or white. Frosting comes in chocolate or vanilla buttercream, or you can opt for whipped cream. Fillings are either chocolate or vanilla custard, fresh bananas, or strawberries or raspberries in season. For birthday cakes, you can have either flowers or balloons in your choice of colors. For wedding cakes, you can add either fondant or marzipan covering, or either smooth or basket-weave buttercream, in white or ivory, with either pearl-like dots or ribbony swags made of frosting, and fondant faux flowers are extra.”

“The menu is spectacular. Passed hors d'oeuvres include caramelized shallot tartlets topped with Gorgonzola, cubes of crispy pork belly skewered with fresh fig, espresso cups of chilled corn soup topped with spicy popcorn, mini arepas filled with rare skirt steak and chimichurri and pickle onions, and prawn dumplings with a mango serrano salsa. There is a raw bar set up with three kinds of oysters, and a raclette station where we have a whole wheel of the nutty cheese being melted to order, with baby potatoes, chunks of garlic sausage, spears of fresh fennel, lightly pickled Brussels sprouts, and hunks of sourdough bread to pour it over. When we head up for dinner, we will start with a classic Dover sole amandine with a featherlight spinach flan, followed by a choice of seared veal chops or duck breast, both served with creamy polenta, roasted mushrooms, and lacinato kale. Next is a light salad of butter lettuce with a sharp lemon Dijon vinaigrette, then a cheese course with each table receiving a platter of five cheeses with dried fruits and nuts and three kinds of bread, followed by the panna cottas. Then the cake, and coffee and sweets. And at midnight, chorizo tamales served with scrambled eggs, waffle sticks with chicken fingers and spicy maple butter, candied bacon strips, sausage biscuit sandwiches, and vanilla Greek yogurt parfaits with granola and berries on the "breakfast" buffet, plus cheeseburger sliders, mini Chicago hot dogs, little Chinese take-out containers of pork fried rice and spicy sesame noodles, a macaroni-and-cheese bar, and little stuffed pizzas on the "snack food" buffet. There will also be tiny four-ounce milk bottles filled with either vanilla malted milk shakes, root beer floats made with hard root beer, Bloody Marys, or mimosas.”

“Starting with the chocolate version, I swap out some of the cocoa powder with melted bittersweet chocolate and add some sour cream for balance and moistness, as well as some instant espresso powder, my secret ingredient for anything chocolate, which doesn't so much make something taste like coffee, but rather just makes chocolate taste more chocolaty. While the chocolate cupcakes are baking, I turn my attention to the vanilla recipe, adding some vanilla bean paste to amp up the vanilla flavor and show off those awesome little black-speck vanilla seeds, and mixing some buttermilk into the batter to prevent it from being overly sweet and unbalanced. The banana version uses very ripe bananas that I've been stashing in the freezer, as well as a single slice of fresh banana that has been coated in caramel and is pushed halfway into each cup of batter for a surprise in the middle of the cupcakes. Herman's frostings are close to the frostings of my youth, simple faux buttercreams made with softened butter and confectioners' sugar. Nothing fancy. In my newer versions, the chocolate gets melted chocolate and chocolate milk mixed in, the vanilla gets more vanilla bean paste and a tiny hit of lemon zest, and the peanut butter gets a blend of butter and cream cheese for some tang.”

“Relax, princess. If your prince arrives, I'll vacate. Just keeping you company. Besides, he should know better than to leave a beautiful girl waiting on him; someone else might swoop in and steal his prize." This man is insufferable. "I'm neither a princess nor a prize, nor a girl if you want to be specific about it." "I notice you didn't mind my calling you beautiful." The waitress comes over and asks what he would like. I begin to tell her he isn't staying, but he talks right over me. "The three-wine flight and a slice of the chestnut cream cake, please." Damn his eyes! That was the dessert I was most interested in: layers of chestnut cream, apricot glaze, and dark chocolate ganache.”

“I've been developing killer updated versions of things like Black Forest cake, now with bittersweet devil's food cake, a dried-cherry conserve, and whipped vanilla creme fraiche. I've perfected a new carrot cake, adding candied chunks of parsnips and rum-soaked golden raisins to the cake and mascarpone to the frosting. And my cheeky take on homemade Pop-Tarts will be available in three flavors- blueberry, strawberry, and peanut butter and jelly- and I've even ordered fun little silver Mylar bags to pack them in.”

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Book Keywords:

food, buffets, mandel-bread, halloween, fondant, cakes-delivery, flavors, danish, rugelach, menu, food-and-drink, ingredients, sophie-bernstein, cupcakes, flirting, order-forms, chocolate, bakery, desserts, langers, brioche, herman-langer, chestnut, basic, business, bread, sophie-and-mark, nostalgic, pop-tarts, challah, cookies, same-old, breakfast-lunch-and-dinner, black-forest, butter, recipes, mark-langer, candy, kuchen, sweets, jewish, frosting, pastries, bananas, apricot, cake, oomph, white-chocolate, cakes, old-fashioned, changes, pumpkin, vanilla

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