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Sweets for Your Sweet
Mehreen Karim (@reeniekarim) shares a recipe for a Studio Ghibi-inspired chocolate raspberry cake...just in time for Valentine's Day.
Dear cake content consumers,
It's been a while since we last talked. We've been busy going through your Humble Pie pitches (all 350+ of them), and it’s going to be a great third issue. In other exciting news, we raised $520 for Washington Square Park Mutual Aid from our second Death by Chocolate t-shirt drop done in collaboration with Social Species design studio! Thank you for your support, and remember to tag us on Instagram @cake_zine when you’re wearing the tees. That's the type of content we live for.
Speaking of "other types of content we live for:" This week on Just a Bite, we're joined by Mehreen Karim, a freelance recipe developer and food writer who previously did all of the above for Bon Appetit (and contributed a glorious passionfruit cake for Sexy Cake). You can catch her sautéing, frying, and baking her way through Gordon Ramsay's newest cooking show, Next Level Chef, premiering on Fox on February 12. Read on for her interview, including an extra special chocolate cake recipe.
You’re making dessert. What is it?
Something with a custard involved. Maybe a single 6-inch vanilla-heavy cake with a creme diplomat (which is French for whipped cream and custard mixed together). I have been a sucker for crème pâtissière on all my desserts ever since learning a few tricks from Martha Stewart's Kitchen Conundrum's video on a stress-free pastry cream. I love to shove it in a donut, on a cake, and of course, in a dainty tart shell.
Someone is making you a dessert. What do you ask for?
I'm specifically asking my brother to make me the Jacques-Torres chocolate chip cookies. It's rare I ask anyone to make me a dessert, but my brother and I share the same undying affinity for a chocolate chip cookie, and that makes him the only other person that can bake me one that ticks all my CCC standards (deep toffee flavors, crisped underside, chewy NOT gooey center)
You’ve transformed into a pastry. What are you and how are you consumed?
I am a savory scallion, potato, and cheese croissant. I'm eaten outside directly outside of the bakery I was just made in, preferably under a warm beam of sunlight.
What fictional dessert scene will you never forget?
I will never forget watching Kirsten Dunst devour rounds of pink eclairs, bonbons, and entremets in Marie Antoinette (2006).
What is a baking hack you can’t live without?
Using mascarpone cheese to stabilize whipped cream is my ride or die method for making airy yet durable creams in all of my cake orders. When I can't be bothered to work on a Swiss meringue buttercream or I simply want the luxurious taste of mascarpone alongside my cakes, this hack will be a part of my cake-making habits for a while to come.
What about the movie Kiki’s Delivery Service sparked the inspiration for this chocolate cake recipe?
I've been watching Kiki's Delivery Service since an age so early I'm not even sure I can pinpoint it. All I know is that Studio Ghibli's immaculate food illustrations successfully had me salivating at every turn of the film. More often than not, the baked goods in the film were never for the protagonist, a witch named Kiki, who delivers baked goods on her broomstick with utmost love and thoughtfulness. Finally, two sweet grannies that Kiki had previously completed a delivery for reward Kiki with her very own homemade cake, adorned with her name, a frosted depiction of her silhouette on her broomstick, and the glossiest chocolate ganache my young eyes had seen.
I like to think Kiki's cake tastes similar to that of my own favorite dessert—a Brooklyn Blackout Cake.
Follow Mehreen on Instagram: @reeniekarim
Cake cultural ephemera to consume right now:
Read: Our own Aliza Abarbanel wrote a poetic piece for The New York Times’ T Magazine on why meringue is all the rage when it comes to pastry chefs and food artists like Jen Monroe and Caroline Schiff.
Visit: Gong Gan, a dessert bar by day and a wine bar at night, has touched down in Flushing, Queens. Run, don't walk to devour one of their wacky and colorful cakes.
Make: Dulce de leche from a regular can of sweetened condensed milk. Eat it on everything.