For Bakery Battles week at Camp Doll Diaries, we decided to do something a little different. Since I was the only baker at camp, there wouldn’t be any competition for me. And nobody except Caroline really knew how to bake, so I offered to teach everyone.
We gathered at a table in the kitchen, where the supplies were already laid out. I counted my students — one, two, three, four, five — and frowned. Saige, Isabelle, and Savannah were missing. Shrugging, I flipped through my cookbook. They’d turn up eventually.
Holding the batter-stained book up for everyone to see, I told them, “We’re going to make the Peanut Butter and Chocolate Dome Cake.”
My students leaned in and gazed at the picture, licking their lips.
Molly looked up at me and said, “I’m allergic to peanuts, Counselor MJ.”
“Oh . . .” I glanced at the recipe. There was no way we could make it without peanut butter. “You can help us cook it, right?” A nod. “You and I can make brownies later,” I promised.
Handing the cookbook to Molly, who started reading aloud, I showed Ivy how much peanut butter to put in the red mixing bowl.
After Tracy had added the chocolate syrup to the concoction and Caroline had spooned in coco powder, the missing pupils dashed into the room. I found it odd that they were all wearing gray bottoms and ponytails. Not to mention that they were eying all of us suspiciously.
“Sorry we’re late.” Saige and her friends took a spot at the end of the table. “We were, uh, using the bathroom.” Savannah and Isabelle nodded.
Emily plopped a spoonful of Nutella into the mix, then licked the spoon clean. “Here.” She slid the bowl across the table to Isabelle. “You can stir,” she offered.
Isabelle wrapped her fingers around the spoon and stirred. Stirring was one of my favorite things about baking. Watching all the ingredients blend together to create a dough or filling or something else . . .
“We’re making Peanut Butter and Chocolate Dome Cake,” Caroline whispered to Izzy. The ballerina, still stirring, relayed the information to Saige and Savannah.
Once the batter was ready and Saige had smoothed it out with the back of the spoon, I demonstrated how to arrange Nilla Wafers into a dome, the bottoms of the cookies stuck into the dough. Savannah understood immediately and, in the less than a minute, was done.
Before I put the food in the oven, I added the finishing touch: chocolate syrup drizzled over the cookies. Then I carefully picked the bowl up, making sure not to knock over the dome, and set it in the oven.
While everyone chatted and sniffed the air, which was beginning to smell like chocolate and peanut butter, I chewed on my lip and reread the recipe. I’d never made a Peanut Butter and Chocolate Dome Cake before, but my friends didn’t know that. What if it didn’t taste good? What if the cookies burned? Everyone would think I was a horrible baker, and while I’d hardly done any of the cooking, I’d helped each camper add an ingredient, which meant that if the treat was disgusting, it would be mostly my fault . . .
The timer dinged: “Miss Valdez, come check your food!” I raced over to the oven, but before I threw open the door, I squeezed my eyes shut. I didn’t want to see what the dome cake looked like. Slipping my hands into oven mitts, I pulled the cake out and walked back to the table. A round of gasps reached my ears as I set it down. But what kind of gasp is it? I wondered. It could be one of delight or one of horror.
Nervous, I opened one eye, then the other, fixed them on the food, and gasped.
It was a gasp of delight. For in the bowl before me was a tower of beautiful, giant cookies.
“Are they supposed to look like that?” asked Emily, a line of drool making its way down her chin.
I snatched my cookbook up from the table and stared at the page. The picture showed a Peanut Butter and Chocolate Dome Cake, the Nilla Wafers coated in dark syrup, chocolate peanut butter filling peeking out from between the cookies. I shot a look at the treats in the bowl, comparing them with the picture. Nope. They definitely weren’t supposed to look like that. I shook my head.
The bowl was passed around the table and each girl took one cookie from it.
“On three,” I said, scooping my cookie off the tabletop.
And then I happened to glance to my right and saw that Ivy had taken her cookie apart.
“Wow!” I exclaimed, leaning over it. This was a great opportunity to study the food. “It looks like the chocolate syrup completely covered the Nilla Wafers, turning them that dark brown color, and the reason it’s not wet is because the syrup hardened in the oven. And the filling . . . half is peanut butter, the other half is Nutella and coco powder.
“Alright, on three.” And I began the countdown, the voices of the other girls joining mine. “One . . . Two . . . Three!”
I, along with everyone else (except for Molly, who remembered that she had a peanut allergy), raised a cookie to my lips and took a bite. And it was wonderful.
“That was amazing!” Caroline wiped some crumbs off her chin. “Will you cook with us some other time, MJ?”
I nodded, grinning. Teaching them to bake had been fun, despite my worrying and the food’s odd mutation. “Of course. Of course, I will.”
P.S. The theme at Camp Doll Diaries this week is Picnics, Parades and Patriotism! (Fourth of July stuff.) Vote for the doll that will tell this week’s Life at Camp!
P.P.S. The last What’s Up Wednesday is on July first!
P.P.P.S. The Peanut Butter and Chocolate Dome Cake incident was not the first food mutation . . . https://happyhouseofag.wordpress.com/2014/10/16/cooking-part-2-collab-post-with-josie/
P.P.P.P.S. This is the last P.S. Promise.
P.P.P.P.P.S. Oops. It appears my fingers were crossed.