It’s that time of year again when we all like to indulge ourselves with particularly special treats and gifts. I’m not Italian, but my family and I have grown to love having the special Italian holiday bread known as panettone on hand this time of year. Originally from Milan and dating back in origin all the way to the Roman Empire, panettone has now become a holy grail of sorts to bakers and achieved a certain cult status. This is because, of course, it’s incredibly complicated. Panettone dough is one of the most challenging to work with and can be impossibly tricky according to bakers. To create the perfect, lightly delicate and delicious cake, full of tiny treats inside, which literally pulls apart and melts in your mouth, requires days of preparation and precise planning. Only a true master baker can pull it off.
A feat which Perry McDaniel could handle with aplomb, no doubt. After all, his Puzzled Guy Patisserie produces some of the finest, most precise and beguiling puzzles around, and folks line up around the corner whenever the bake shop happens to be open. If you’ve ever had the opportunity to experience how Perry designs his puzzles, you’ll also note the incredible process and detail he undergoes, with prototypes that look like geometric experiments gone awry. Somehow he turns these into the most delicious looking creations which beg to be devoured, but keep you guessing and guessing as to just how that can be accomplished.
His Blackjack Cake is an innocent and tempting looking treat. It appears to be a chocolate layer cake with a splash of chocolatey sauce drizzled over top and oozing down the sides. The artistry of this piece is simply wonderful, and mimics reality so well it fooled many in an unexpected way. Perry sold these at IPP 37 in Paris, and offered additional real cake pastries alongside them as well. Reportedly, some people wanted to purchase the “other” puzzle box from him too – the actual cake. His creations are so lifelike that a real slice of cake might just be a puzzle box too.
Perry likes to push the envelope with his puzzle boxes. He is able to build in tiny features and details which seem impossible for such small pieces. He hides moves in plain sight incredibly well. And he likes to add novel elements, as with the Blackjack Cake. The name is actually a clue to the goal, for in addition to finding and opening the two secret compartments here, there is also a game of cards. Win, and you’ll be holding Blackjack in your hands. The mechanism employs Perry’s usual assortment of tricky, well-hidden moves, but also a few novel elements which will either infuriate or delight you. I was personally delighted, and I’d love to play another hand. Fortunately, as with his prior petite four and bon bon puzzles, the “pastries collection” will be another series. Hooray, and bon appetit!
|Il Panetun by Michele Garofalo|
I’m toasting Perry and his marvelous cake which is really a puzzle box with another cake – which is really a cocktail! The “Jerry Thomas Project” is a speakeasy style bar in the heart of Rome, Italy and home to world renown mixologist Michele Garofalo. The bar celebrates the “Professor” Jerry Thomas, one of the fathers of cocktails and the original mustachioed bartender from the nineteenth century. He predated the prohibition era so naming a speakeasy in his honor is a bit anachronistic but we can forgive the artistic license – the drinks there sound fabulous. Check out their home page, where the secret password hides in plain sight for you to discover. As a tribute to his home town and their historical cake, Garofalo has created a liquid version. His “Il Panetun” recreates the panettone as one of the more decadent and delicious holiday cocktails you are likely to consume this season. It features a homemade chocolate sauce and the decadent, quinine based wine Barolo Chinato, which was meant to be paired with chocolate, after all. The result is simply stunning, rich and utterly delicious. I’m trying to imagine enjoying one of these with some authentic artisanal panettone simultaneously but my brain keeps short circuiting when I do. Here’s to special treats and the spirit of indulgence. Who says you can’t solve your puzzle and drink it too? Cheers!
|The combination of chocolate and chinato is heavenly|
Il Panetun by Michele Garofalo
1 ½ oz gin
½ oz Grand Marnier
½ oz Barolo Chinato
1 oz homemade chocolate syrup
1 oz heavy cream
1 egg yolk
2 dashes orange bitters
1 dash Angostura bitters
Shake ingredients together vigorously without ice and then again with ice to chill and strain into a favorite glass. Garnish with a Pocky stick or a slice of panettone.
Homemade chocolate syrup: Simmer ¾ cup sultana raisins and zest of 2 oranges with 2 cups water, gently muddling once simmering and cook 6-7 minutes. Strain solids and add ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder at low heat. Whisk to dissolve then add twice the amount of sugar, combine until smooth. Cool and bottle, keep refrigerated.
|This pair takes the cake|
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