"Troubleshooting" by Marley Stuart
We’ve been having trouble
with our chocolate petit fours.
Something in the icing ferments
and bubbles up the glaze.
The petit fours come out brown
lumps like dirty snow, not
smooth cubes of white ice.
It’s been like this for weeks.
Today I try to find the right trick.
I mix up a batch of German chocolate
and slide two sheets in the oven.
It’s always some trick in the end,
like turning the pans or slamming them
on the bench to free pockets of air —
but maybe it’s not the icing.
Maybe, when the cake cools,
I can try not rimming it, not rolling
off the layer of sugar and chocolate
that forms on top. Maybe rolling
it off is what exposes the pits
in the first place.
The cakes come out golden
and springy, no lumps, cracks
or thin, dense spots. My handprint
disappears from the caramelized top.
I clean the shop while they cool.
But I’m only kidding myself.
The cakes need to freeze
before I can cut them up, and it’s too late
now to stay and make petit fours.
The real trick will be to turn
time into a knife
and know when not to use it.
Marley Stuart is an Assistant Editor of Louisiana Literature and a graduate of the Bennington Writing Seminars. His stories and poems have recently appeared or are forthcoming in The Chattahoochee Review, Permafrost, Xavier Review, The Healing Muse, L'Éphémère Review, The Rising Phoenix Review, Occulum, and About Place. He and his wife, the writer Kimberly D. Stuart, live in New Orleans and direct the small press, River Glass Books.
Photo Credit: Staff