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.
This time around, my crush cake is dedicated to Parker Posey and three of my very favourite roles of hers: Darla in Dazed and Confused, Mary in Party Girl, and Sissy Knox in A Mighty Wind. What is it about Parker Posey that’s so swoonful? Is it her long face, her eyes as dark as the glossy underside of a bay thoroughbred horse, her deep and drawly voice, her off-kilter improv acting? Is it the way she generally zigs just when you think she’s going to zag? It is, I dare to assert, all these things and more.
If you haven’t seen these three movies, let me display for you the exact moments when I tripped and fell into this hefty crush, and how the cake I’ve made pays tribute to these characters:
In Party Girl, it’s when her self-absorbed, hard-working, and devastatingly well-dressed character Mary dances her way through the library in a wee montage, learning to love the intricacies of the Dewey Decimal System while wearing the most incredible outfit. Inspired by the falafel that Mary repeatedly orders from her Lebanese food-stand love interest, I made a vegan pavlova, which uses the brine from canned chickpeas. I realise there’s a lot to take in with this paragraph here, but trust me: both the pavlova and the movie are legitimately wonderful.
In A Mighty Wind, it’s every time the camera cuts to her during the final, titular song when her fervently enthusiastic character Sissy Knox — who longs only to be a “vessel of love” to the audience — seems about to cannonball off the stage, so possessed is she with the pure joy of singing. This moment from the film is cruelly not available on YouTube (though you can watch an alternate take), but instead why not watch Parker Posey and Jane Lynch sincerely working their way through the effortlessly ludicrous song “Potato’s in the Paddy Wagon”? The blueberries and sugar roses atop the pavlova echo both her gaudy costume in this number and also her gloriously nonstop sweetness.
Finally, in a salute to this clip of Posey in an improvised behind-the-scenes interview, in character as Darla Marks in Dazed and Confused, I made a raspberry glaze to imitate the roll-on lipgloss she tinkers with constantly throughout. Yes, she’s incredible in the movie itself, characterized with a particularly terrifying mix of small town boredom and a complete lack of ever having been stood up to. A deliciously evil hoyden in striped shorts, a Seniors jersey, sports socks and running shoes. But when she looks into the camera during this interview and claims “I’m just bad, honey, I’m just bad,” I swoon hardest of all.
And now for the Crush Cake recipe!
Vegan Pavlova with Blueberries and Raspberry Lipgloss Glaze
Not to bury the lede here: This cake literally uses the liquid from a can of chickpeas (known as aquafaba) to make the fluffiest, most pavlova-like pavlova you could ever countenance. I don’t know how it works, all I know is that vegans who suggested it on Pinterest are actual geniuses.
The drained liquid from a chilled can of chickpeas in brine (low-sodium is good here)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon freeze-dried raspberry powder (optional: add vanilla instead)
¾ cup blueberries, either fresh or defrosted
1 heaping tablespoon cornstarch
½ cup sugar
3 tablespoons icing sugar
2 teaspoons freeze-dried raspberry powder (I daresay you could get away with using some red food colouring and flavoured essence here)
1 cup water
Set your oven to 130C/270F, and line a baking tray with nonstick baking paper.
Drain the brine from your can of chickpeas into a large mixing bowl. Mix the sugar and cornstarch together in a small bowl (or don’t, this just makes it easier later). Using a whisk, begin to whip the chickpea liquid. It should immediately begin to froth, and before long, it should inexplicably gather momentum and become thick, white, and essentially exactly like beaten egg whites. When it gets to the point where you can raise the whisk up and the white foam is drawn up with it, before slowly deflating down again (this is called the “soft peak stage”), start to whisk in the sugar and cornstarch a heaped tablespoon at a time. The mixture should slowly become very thick and shiny as you do this, in a very satisfying manner. Continue until all the sugar is beaten in and then whip it all some more just to make sure – it should be so stiff that you can hold the bowl aloft on its side or upside down without everything falling out immediately.
At this point, whisk in the apple cider vinegar, and the raspberry powder or vanilla if you’re using it, and then gently spoon it into a smallish circular shape on the baking tray, heaping it up evenly.
Bake for two hours, by which time it should be very dry on top and somewhat expanded. Allow it to cool completely.
To make the glaze topping, simply bring all the ingredients (1 heaping tablespoon cornstarch, ½ cup sugar, 3 tablespoons icing sugar, 2 teaspoons freeze-dried raspberry powder, and 1 cup water) to a gentle boil, stirring constantly. It will suddenly seize into a glossy, shiny substance – add more water here if you think it’s too thick.
Carefully place the pavlova on a serving plate – gently peel away the baking paper from its base; it should be solid enough to be handled thus, but don’t worry if it gets some cracks in it, as you’re going to cover it with stuff soon anyway. Open the can of coconut cream and spoon over the thickest stuff from the top, scatter the blueberries over it willy-nilly – some of their juice will bleed gloriously into the cream – and then rakishly drizzle over the glaze you made.
At this stage I also added some sugar roses, but obviously you do as you please. For regular, non-crush purposes, the pavlova, glaze, coconut cream and blueberries would be quite sufficient.
I honestly don’t know that much about Parker Posey the human. But as an actress she is gold. The way she leans her head and holds Jane Lynch’s hand while watching Catherine O’Hara and Eugene Levy sing “A Kiss at the End of the Rainbow” in A Mighty Wind (frankly I’m shedding tears at this point just watching O’Hara); the way she spits “wipe that face off your head, bitch” to the poor freshman girls in Dazed and Confused; the way she struts and dances in her endless parade of incredible outfits in Party Girl — Parker Posey, call me?