For this recipe I ventured yet again into the wonderful world of icebox cakes. Like before, this one was also for my wife. But it’s not for the reasons you might think. Yes, she still likes icebox cakes. Yes, I still like making things for her. But, it wasn’t a birthday surprise this time. It was because of my new (un)favorite word of the day: anosmia.
It’s a condition where you lose your sense of smell, and it happens to her sometimes. As you might imagine, what comes along with it is that she also loses her sense of taste. Can you imagine not being able to taste anything? I surely can’t. It seems so integral to our experience of food. But it happens to her from time to time, and this time it hit her pretty hard.
She really couldn’t taste much of anything. The only things she could taste were very strong and basic: sweet, sour, salty, etc. I wanted to make her something, and she figured maybe the lemon would be strong enough for her to taste. She sent me a few recipes with lemons in them, and I decided on this one. It looked fairly straightforward, but it still took some time. I didn’t opt for making my own lemon curd. Maybe next time? 😉
As I said, it was pretty straightforward to make. I gathered the ingredients and measured things out. It took some time to zest and squeeze the lemons. (The lemons looked really bare without their peels on.) I used four small lemons instead of the two large ones the recipe called for. I used four packs of graham crackers.
I used the KitchenAid for the mixing. The butter took a while. It kept clumping to the beater without getting beaten. It probably wasn’t soft enough, but eventually I got it whipped. I put in the cream and combined it, then added the rest of the ingredients. I set the speed a little too high and stuff flew everywhere. I put it back down to a reasonable speed. The KitchenAid made quick work of it. I still love it. I was able to do other stuff while waiting: like cleaning up, getting the dish I was going to use down from a high cabinet, etc.
I layered the ingredients as directed. It’s a smart idea they gave putting a little cream down on the bottom to hold the graham crackers. I had a little trouble with the lemon curd. It was hard to drizzle. I shplooped it down and tried to separate it out. (Yes, for those keeping track, “shploop” is an industry term.) It was later that I realized that I had forgotten to warm it per the instructions. That would’ve helped.
I used one package of graham crackers per layer. I had to figure out exactly how much whipped cream to use. I was conservative at first, but then put more on so I could at least cover each layer. I’m experienced enough with icebox cakes now to know that you need a decent amount of whipped cream in between each layer to get it to work. I managed it okay, as I had enough for each layer. I had a little left at the end, so I probably coulda put a smidgen more in each layer, but I just threw it on top which was fine.
Also, because of the aforementioned non-warming of the lemon curd, I wasn’t able to get it to look quite as it was supposed to on the top layer. IMHO, it still looked nice, just not super fancy. I put it in the fridge to chill as directed.
My wife helped by doing most of the cleanup. I asked her if she wanted to lick the beater. She did. And lo and behold she could taste something! At first I thought she was joking, but she could actually taste it. It tasted like something. Citrusy something. It was the first thing she had tasted in a while. It had four lemons (juice and zest) and a whole jar of lemon curd in it. So I had been hopeful that she could.
I mean, it smelled very lemony to me. I tasted a little of the lemon cream. It was strong. Good, but very lemony. I also washed my hands a bazillion times, and I couldn’t really get the smell out. After the recommended 2 hours, we tried it. It was definitely ready.
And as for the taste? It was really good! You could taste the whipped cream and the mushy graham crackers a little, but the strongest taste was the lemon. It wasn’t super sweet, rather it was very tart. It was very good, but if you don’t like lemon, stay away. It wasn’t just a little bit of lemon. It was a like lemon tree set up shop in your mouth. (Or punched you in the face.) In a good way.
And as for my wife? Well the preview was a sign of good things to come. She could really taste it! It tasted citrusy to her which was huge. She could tell all the different textures and she could feel her mouth puckering up from the lemon. Yay! Mission accomplished! Thankfully her taste has come back since then, but it’s good to know that we can turn to this if we need to.
Have you or someone close to you ever lost their sense of smell or taste? How did you or they deal with it? Do you have any recipes that are able to make a difference? It can’t hurt to stockpile them just in case. Thanks in advance!