Reminiscing is a slippery slope for me right now. I’m no Gwyneth Paltrow with her “conscious uncoupling” of a divorce, though I’m trying. I’m meditating. And I have my just-after-meditation-glow-moments when I embrace the cosmic perfection of all I am going through and all I will learn from it. But I also have spent more time than I want to admit going through my iPhone and Facebook photos trying to decide if I should delete every picture that has my soon-to-be-ex husband’s face in it, while mouthing expletives that have a satisfying crunch to them. I don’t want to remember right now, at least not the last 22 years. Every memory I touch on is a land mine, exploding a mixed bag of messy emotion. And the clean up takes hours and lots of wine.
And that’s where the Ho Ho, (if you were in the Hostess Cake camp) or the Yodel (from the Drake’s Cake camp) comes in. The Yodel takes me fast-forward (or is it fast-reverse?)—like those moving sidewalks in the airport on which you are able to stride like a superhero toward your gate—wooshing beyond the most recent 22 years, to a more distance past when a good after-school snack was the most complicated desire you had, and it was easily satisfied by a moist, airy chocolate cake stuffed with fluffy white cream and dipped in chocolate. Even unwrapping the thin foil it was cloaked in held a certain joyful anticipation.
I felt this feeling again about two weeks ago, when I visited my son in Napa and we stopped by the original Bouchon Bakery, a short walk from The French Laundry—where he works—to pick up some of their Oh Ohs. These are an elevated, perfectly executed adult version of the Ho Ho, replete with crinkly foil wrapper (above). Since I’m following a mostly gluten-free diet these days, I don’t eat much cake, but I had three of these Oh Ohs inside a four-day visit and they are enormous, (as was my bloated abdomen by day 4). I didn’t just eat them, I swooned over them and remembered a simpler time and a simple pleasure. I love how food can do that. Like a song from your college days—a bite of food, a wafting aroma of something simmering—can and does transport you.
The Oh Ohs and seeing my son brought me a good measure of much needed joy, but about 10 days out from the visit I was flipping through Bouchon Bakery Cookbook in my kitchen and when I got to the Oh Oh recipe, I knew what I had to do.
Now this is not a whip-it-up-at-the-last-minute recipe**. It’s a project, for sure. But, a good thing about cooking projects, they put you smack dab in the present. Fussing over measuring, mixing, smoothing and rolling, whipping and dipping I had no time to think back. I only looked forward to that first bite of my first homemade Ho Ho.
** In the interest of supporting Chef Keller and his gorgeous book, The Bouchon Bakery Cookbook, I am not reprinting the recipe here. You can purchase this coffee-table worthy book through Amazon.com or through your favorite cookbook retailer. If in Napa Valley, you can visit Keller’s gathering of beautiful things at the Finesse Store, in Yountville, and buy a copy there too. A little recipe tweak: I’d double the sweetened cream filling if you decide to attempt these! I wanted more filling than the recipe allowed for. And using a stabilizer like Xanthum Gum in the cream makes it hold it’s texture better and longer.
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