KK once called her husband “pie.” This was before they were married. She insisted it was a good thing because she really likes pie. At least, she said I didn’t call him purple. I don’t like purple at all.

That is entirely inconsequential to the rest of this story.

The Full Moon Feast is an idea brought to Somerville with from the wilds of Seattle. We pulled together not only a beautiful house, but a beautiful meal inspired by Mako’s Ethiopian Feast. In honor of the honey wine, there a honey sangria

For dessert, a few of us put together a blueberry pie.

A photograph of a blueberry pie

Not our pie. Our pie looked something like this. Photo courtesy of moonlightbulb on Flickr. CC-BY.

You see, it was what ET called Surprise Pie.

When you’re making Surprise Pie the key ingredient is surprise. As few people as possible ought to know what is going on; the people being surprised (our guests) really ought to not know what is going on. When those people are in the apartment and running around cleaning and decorating, it’s really hard to keep the surprise aspect intact. The existence of the pie is not a surprise–the contents are.

How to Make Surprise Pie, FblueMF 2012 Version (Vegan)

1) Make tapioca

Convince your friends to go pick up tapioca for you. I didn’t want minute tapioca. Regular tapioca has more whatever makes tapioca turn into gel. I made a lot more than I needed for the pie so there would be tapioca for all to enjoy!

  • Boil 4 cups water
  • Add 1 cup tapioca
  • Lower heat and stir stir stir (I had our former intern do this)
  • Add two cans coconut milk
  • Keep stiring
  • Add vanilla
  • Turn off heat once it’s cooked enough
  • Add honey to sweeten and taste.

2) Be convinced you don’t have time to make Surprise Pie. As you pull together coffee and check the cake for imperfections (of which there will be many), have ET pout once she hears there will be no Surprise Pie. Feel enough guilt that, even at the last minute, you will make this pie.

3) Get a pie crust. We used a pre-made graham cracker one because there was no time to make a regular one and there happened to be two in the pantry.

4) Send ID downstairs to get the frozen blueberries from the freezer. Distract the people who are going to be surprised. This is most effective by surrounding them with friends in a room you are not in.

5) Make blueberry pie filling.

  • Put a bag of frozen blueberries into a pot and turn the heat on medium. Depending on the size of the pie crust, you may need more.
  • Add brown sugar and lemon juice to taste.
  • Have ID stir this, taste it, and eventually decide the flavor is right.

6) Put the pie together. The blueberry mix will still be hot. Make a solid layer of tapioca in the pie crush. As full as you think you can get it while still having room for the blueberries. Crumble the second pie crust on top of the tapioca because you think it may possibly help the tapioca and blueberry stay separate. Using a slotted spoon to deal with all the liquid, scoop the blueberries out of the pot and add them to the pie.

7) Take surprise pie to the table and enjoy.

Cake, 02

I had a cake vision.

It all started with DH turning 29. When he turned 28, we made him a chocolate and cardamon ice cream cake. I asked him what sort of cake he wanted this year and he made noises about the peanut butter and jelly cake (based on the recipe based on Julia’s.) The pb&j cake involved cutting the sugar and, instead, using the coconut milk as the basis for a coconut/strawberry/maple smoothie which went into the cake.

It’s a pretty dense cake, but it’s moist and fairly good, I think. (The pb came from an icing that was accidentally made and really fluffy and good.)

He also made noises about vegan cheesecake. I have never made a vegan cheesecake that was what I wanted it to be, but they’re still tasty nonetheless. I wasn’t confident in my ability to put together a cheesecake that would feed everyone and taste good and look good. At least, compared to the cheesecakes of Veggie Galaxy.

I considered this, and DH’s love of layered cakes. From this, DH’s 29th Birthday Cake Tri-Level Spectacular was born.

Or, in the words of someone at the party, “Yo dog, I heard you like cake, so I put a cake in your cake, so you could eat cake while you eat cake.”

Step one, make a vegan cheesecake.

SDS passed me a copy of the cheesecake from The Joy of Vegan Baking, by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau.

6 tsp Ener-G
1/2 cup water
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
24 oz (690 g) nondairy cream cheese
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla

I made it without the chocolate chips. Bake at 350 for about fifty minutes. It took me longer, but I think our oven wasn’t that hot. The cake puffed up and then sunk. In the end, it was a heavily custardy concoction. It was tasty, but, like all of the vegan cheesecakes I have made, not quite what I wanted. Maybe I’ll try some agar-agar next time.

I made the cheesecake Friday night.

Step two, melt chocolate.

I’ve had fancy cakes in the past that involve layers that add textures of creamy fillings, crunchy bits, and cake. I wanted to create something that involved a mixture of layer textures. I wanted to get something a little crunchier into it. I thought about some other ways to manage this, but I wanted to start with a fairly simple, low risk method. Hence, chocolate.

Saturday morning, I melted a bag of chocolate chips using a college student’s double boiler (two pots that vaguely fit together.) If the cheesecake had been a little firmer, I would have liked to coat both sides of the cake with it, but it got gooey when I tried to remove it from the spring form pan. with a sigh, I spread the melted chocolate over one side of the cheesecake and reintroduced it to the freezer.

Step three, make the cake.

I doubled my standard cake recipe and cooked it in two spring form pans. The strawberries failed to shot up, so instead I heated the liquid and used it to brew a chocolate-cardamon black tea to give it a unique little kick. I cooked each of these in a spring form pan.

I like to use spring form pans while making “pretty” cakes because they have nice even (straight) edges that stack well and are easy to remove the cake from.

Then we, through acts of balance involving plates, spring form pan bottoms, baking sheets, and lots of elbow room, stacked the cakes on top of one another. They were then coated in some store brought frosting–that looked more like icing–and concentric spirals of raspberries and blueberries were placed on top to make it pretty.

I think the cake was tasty, but I think the cake parts were a little too dense, and the “cheesecake in the middle” was much more like a layer of custard and much less like a cheesecake in the middle of a cake. Making a less dense cake part is pretty easy, but I’m not sure the best way to try and make the cheesecake part more like my grand vision of the cake.