Laura Vincent’s previous Crush Cakes can be found here.
Welcome back to Crush Cakes. When you sit around breathlessly swooning over your crushes nonstop like me, well…we are worldly people here, you know what happens next. I make cakes expressing my feelings for them, and then sit back and wait for my destiny to be fulfilled. It all makes perfect sense.
Look at this perfect woman. However, in the words of Carly Rae Jepsen, it’s hard to look right at you, baby.
My love is vast, like a mountain of profiteroles.
This crush cake is dedicated to the ultimate queen of my fervent little heart, Lucy Liu. I should warn you, the first part of this post is drawn from many, many text conversations back and forth between myself and Kate, one of my best friends who feels similarly about Ms Liu. The second part of this is drawn from actual facts about Lucy Liu, mostly to calm myself down but also to not make this too weird (she says, not caring at all how weird it is).
Imagine Lucy Liu living in a secluded, rough-hewn yet subtly palacious and bug-free log cabin in a forest. Imagine Lucy Liu as a woodcutrix, wearing a plaid shirt and jeans and boots, lounging upon a tree stump. Imagine Lucy Liu having a room where she does her art, and a room where you get to do your own creative thing while Lucy Liu nurtures your artistic side and encourages your efforts. Imagine Lucy Liu gathering herbs from her garden and making you a simple rustic broth for dinner before we all sit together on the floor and drink whisky. Imagine Lucy Liu astride a horse, galloping into the wind; imagine Lucy Liu rescuing you from a river while at least one of you is wearing a garland of flowers in your hair; imagine Lucy Liu needing your help and you discovering that the power was inside you all along; imagine discussing feminist icons and listening to Beyoncé and Nicki Minaj with Lucy Liu; imagine Lucy Liu tattooing both of us at the same time because she’s ambidextrous; imagine watching Lucy Liu paint; imagine Lucy Liu just, like, with her hair in a ponytail.
For real, though, Lucy Liu is a prolific artist, a fearsomely good actor, a philanthropist, a staggeringly beautiful yet stupidly adorable person, and – as I’ve been presented no decent evidence to the contrary – a literal goddess. She was perfect as she rose to fame in Ally McBeal; she made the concept of perfection look like garbage as she transcended it in Charlie’s Angels and Kill Bill; and she is currently being ridiculously swell as Joan Watson in Elementary.
And now, a recipe for one of the more difficult cakes I’ve had to make. I thought, what could possibly represent my love for Lucy Liu? What could be worthy of her? A life-sized ice-cream castle? A cake made of pure gold that I excavated myself under the full moon? In the end I went for something mountainous and labor-intensive, but don’t feel like you have to stick to my structure – you can just throw all the profiteroles onto a plate and serve the caramel sauce on the side.
Profiterole Mountain with Maple Caramel Sauce to Express My Crush On Lucy Liu
3 cups water
pinch of salt
4 cups flour
½ cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons maple syrup
¾ cup cream
1 teaspoon cornstarch mixed with a tablespoon of water
Set your oven to 200 C/ 400 F.
Bring the butter and water to a boil in a good-sized pan. As soon as it comes to a boil, remove it from the heat and dump in the flour. Stir vigorously until it comes together in a ball that pulls away from the side of the pan. Allow it to cool slightly, and then beat in the eggs – this will take a while and it will be a ridiculous mess, but it will eventually come together into a soft, smooth batter.
Use two small spoons to transfer small balls of dough (roughly the size of a walnut) onto a baking-paper-lined tray. Bake for fifteen minutes, or until puffed and golden. As you remove them from the oven, use a toothpick, fork, or skewer to pierce a hole in them so the steam can escape, and allow to cool on a rack while you continue baking the rest of the dough in batches.
Once all of the dough is baked, arrange the puffs into a mountainous shape – or whatever kind of shape you like, really, however beautiful or mundane it may be.
To make the sauce, melt the butter, sugar, syrup, and salt together till bubbling, then pour in the cream and the cornstarch and continue to stir over low heat till the sauce is somewhat thickened. Remove from the heat and stir in the cinnamon. Once it has cooled a little, spoon and pour lavishly over the puffs, then dust with more cinnamon and a little grated white chocolate if you like. Serve tearfully.
Excuse me, I have to run to a secluded meadow and scream.
You should know that while these take some work, they are completely rewarding – the puffy little profiteroles soak up the caramel sauce and become splendidly chewy and sugary. The sauce itself is casually addictive, the smoky warmth of maple syrup and dusting of cinnamon making it all rather special in a mysterious kind of way.
And so, let us end with some quiet, solemn meditation upon how wonderful Lucy Liu is. Remember, when you walked along the beach and looked back and saw only one set of footprints, it’s because Lucy Liu was carrying you. (If you looked back and saw two sets of footprints, it’s because Lucy Liu was carrying Jesus, but being way chill about it.)