The Best Party of the Year

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Goes to the Food Arts Epiphany Party. In all the years that I have been associated with Food Arts I've only ever missed one, and that was because I was away. I loved seeing all the full-time staff and also the free-lancers. And invariably, publisher and dear friend Michael Batterberry would be inspired to come up with some terrific article for me to pursue. Of course, one of the best parts was that each invitée would bring a special dish. One year Michael Batterberry made manicotti with wild boar sausage that was so delicious, I took some of the leftovers home and had it for breakfast. In recent years, I made sure that my culinary contribution was chocolate, as dear Ariane Batterberry so adores it. This year, the party was once again held in the home of fellow contributor, pastry aficionado, and dear friend Meryle Evans. And this year it meant driving for 2 hours each way as we now live in western New Jersey. As this was the year of the sad demise of the publication, I was so overjoyed to know that the tradition of the epiphany party lives on, so I pulled out all the stops and made one of the most time-consuming, complex, and fabulous cakes from The Cake Bible: "The Triple Chocolate Proposal Cake." It took an entire day to complete, but when I saw Ariane's expression of surprise and joy I knew it was worth it. The cake consisted of a chocolate génoise syruped with kahlua, sandwiched and frosted with light whipped ganache, and enrobed with hazelnut praline chocolate leaves. First the nuts are peeled and toasted and then covered with caramel. The caramel covered nuts are processed to a powder and then added to melted, tempered chocolate. The chocolate is then spread into sheets and rolled thinly. When it hardens it is draped over the cake, coaxed into submission by the use of a hair drier so that it drapes in folds that are never the same way twice. A close up shows the bits of praline powder in the chocolate. The entire cake used 1-1/2 pounds of my best chocolate and truly was a labor of love. What could have been more appropriate for a publication and group of people whom i have long felt to be beloved family.