This episode is subtitled: ‘Planning a little companionship…’
I was childishly proud last Saturday afternoon. It was time for the weekly meeting where Kim and I discuss Teacups & Tulips (what’s going well, what’s coming up next week, ideas for the future etc) and eat up the leftover cake in Teacups.
I was armed with my beautiful notebook (which I’d created to keep a record of my ideas for the business) and this week it actually had an entry in it!
Mr Saunders had been in the shop again during the week, for no particular reason except, I suspect, to see a few friendly faces. Mrs Lucas was in at the same time and seemed to be pondering over the greetings cards but it was the first time we’d seen her since her husband’s funeral about 10 days previously so I’m sure her mind was elsewhere. Another one in need of a friendly smile.
I wanted to say to both of them, look, you two should go next door for a cup of tea and a natter. I’m sure it would have done both lonely souls the world of good but in this trade we have to be really sensitive with information – we know who’s died, who’s ill, who’s having and affair, but we must respect people’s privacy so we keep it to ourselves.
It was then that I thought, what better place than Teacups & Tulips to encourage some companionship? I’m not talking any form of matchmaking, just an opportunity for a lonely person to share a table and a pot of tea. We could advertise companion sessions where anyone looking for company can meet others in the same situation. I can tell my widows and widowers about it whenever I think it’s appropriate and they can turn up at the allotted time if they want to. So I wrote it in my notebook to tell Kim on Saturday.
‘I’m afraid it’s boring chocolate cake this afternoon,’ said Kim, as I waltzed in with a stupid grin on my face. ‘We’d made one earlier in the week and I’d completely forgotten about it.’
The grin vanished and my eyes darted three times between the piece of gooey scrummy millionaire’s shortbread under the glass dome on the counter and the very forlorn looking chocolate cake in the tin – no chocolate buttercream, no cherry jam and no melted chocolate on top, just a plain cake going to waste. Not very appetising.
‘I’ll take the chocolate cake home,’ I said.
I wanted to try making some truffles with cake and brandy and I had promised you that this week I would look for something edible so it was a perfect opportunity. Ruth from Cake Creations had given some to Kim and me one Christmas and she said they were easy to make – but then Ruth does know a lot about cake! You can see how I got on, starting at the paw print below.
So, with the millionaire’s shortbread on a plate in front of me, I put my idea to Kim – ‘Coffee & Companions’.
She thought it was great. We settled on just ‘Companions’ and planned to have our first session a week on Wednesday in the afternoon. That would give us time to let relevant customers know. I’ll tell you how it goes in a couple of weeks. Would you like to know how I got on with the truffles now?
The cake I used was salvaged because it was forgotten (although it looks as though it was made by a novice so maybe it was conveniently forgotten) but it’s not very likely you’ll forget a cake you bake at home! You could use off-cuts if you are making a shaped cake or you could just make a fresh one, even though you won’t be salvaging anything.
All you do is mash up the cake with a fork, adding a little boiled raspberry jam to bind it together. I didn’t measure mine but I guess I put a large dollop (probably about two tablespoons) in a pan and I used it all on half of the cake.
Then I added a bit of brandy. I couldn’t really taste it so I added more which did make it a bit wet, but easy to shape into balls.
I organized myself by separating out some small paper cases and pouring chocolate stands into one bowl and small sugar butterflies into another.
As each one was shaped into a ball I either added a butterfly or rolled it in the chocolate strands and put it in a paper case. This is how many I got from half a cake (plus a few ‘samples’ that needed to be tested).
I want to give them to Lily, the elderly lady who lives next door to me, so I used the lid of a box of chocolates (the box the anemone/Sharpie bride brought us) and made it look a bit prettier with some tissue paper.
I tried to cover the box in cling film but is it me or does cling film just not cling any more? It looked a mess so they’ve spent the night in my airtight container in a cool place and I’ll carry them carefully round to Lily this morning, with the promise of joining her for a cup of coffee later this afternoon. I hope she likes them!
• Make some truffles and cheer up a neighbour.
• Use rum if you prefer it to brandy.
• The chocolate strands get everywhere so if you’re doing some without (like my butterflies) then do those first.
• Chocolate cake off-cuts
• Chocolate box lid
Did you notice how few chocolates managed to fit in that lid? That’s an additional seven for my tummy and four for each thigh!
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