I keep asking myself “How did I not know about 17 Pygmies?”.
Concept albums. Experimental space rock. Haunting music filled with drama. This stuff has my name written all over it.
Somehow I missed the album ‘Celestina’ when it came out in 2008. But, no worries. I’ve caught up with it and its follow-up, ‘CII: Second Son’ released this past January. Catch up has never been so much fun.
17 Pygmies, out of California, started out in 1982. After some member changes and several record recordings along came Celestina.
‘Celestina’ and ‘CII: Second Son’ tell the story of the spaceship Celestina’s mission to explore a possible black hole in the nebula of Cassiopeia. Astronauts Captain Robert Mora and Dr. Isabel fly through the black hole and wake up in a perfect world with two suns. It is an idyllic place where nothing ever changes. Could this be heaven?
Throw in robots and you’ve got one hell of a perfect concept album.
The reason I know so much of what is going on is that there are accompanying written short stories for Celestina and CII:Second Son. The songs allude to the drama with instrumentation and sparse lyrics. Listening to the album, for me, feels more like listening to a love story. The songs have repeating melodies and musical passages that tie everything together.
CII is completely and utterly addicting. Just like this Flourless Chocolate Cake.
Meg, from the band, suggested this recipe. It is an amazing cake. An explosion of chocolate in every bite. You have to make this cake. It is out of this world….like Celestina.
Flourless Chocolate Cake With Chocolate Glaze
Ingredients for cake:
12 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
6 large eggs, separated
12 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Ingredients for glaze:
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup dark corn syrup
9 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
Chocolate shavings or Gold-brushed Chocolate Leaves or the roses below
Directions to make cake:
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 9-inch-diameter springform pan. Line bottom of pan with parchment paper or waxed paper; butter paper. Wrap outside of pan with foil.
2. Stir chocolate and butter in heavy medium saucepan over low heat until melted and smooth. Remove from heat. Cool to lukewarm, stirring often.
3. Using electric mixer, beat egg yolks and 6 tablespoons sugar in large bowl until mixture is very thick and pale, about 3 minutes. Fold lukewarm chocolate mixture into yolk mixture, then fold in vanilla extract.
4. Using clean dry beaters, beat egg whites in another large bowl until soft peaks form. Gradually add remaining 6 tablespoons sugar, beating until medium-firm peaks form. Fold whites into chocolate mixture in 3 additions.
5. Pour batter into prepared pan.
6. Bake cake until top is puffed and cracked and tester inserted into center comes out with some moist crumbs attached, about 50 minutes. Cool cake in pan on rack (cake will fall).
7. Gently press down crusty top to make evenly thick cake. Using small knife, cut around pan sides to loosen cake. Remove pan sides. Place 9-inch-diameter tart pan bottom or cardboard round atop cake. Invert cake onto tart pan bottom. Peel off parchment paper.
Directions to make glaze:
1. Bring cream and corn syrup to simmer in medium saucepan. Remove from heat. Add chocolate and whisk until melted and smooth.
2. Place cake on rack set over baking sheet. Spread 1/2 cup glaze smoothly over top and sides of cake. Freeze until almost set, about 3 minutes. Pour remaining glaze over cake; smooth sides and top. Place cake on platter. Chill until glaze is firm, about 1 hour. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover with cake dome; store at room temperature.)
3. Garnish with chocolate shavings or leaves. Serve at room temperature.
Recipe from Bon Appétit Magazine
If you want some flowers for your flourless cake try these. I didn’t eat them, but you can if you know that they are pesticide free.
Beaten egg white
1. Lightly brush roses with egg white. Sprinkle with glitter.
2. Let dry in a cooling rack set over a bowl or container.
A little strawberry sauce on the side is a nice accompaniment.
This piece of cake is for the band. I should have cut a larger slice.
Make sure you save some room for the music.
This is the opening track from CII:Second Son. I was only going to post songs with lyrics since, you know, I like to sing in the kitchen. But, this is too good not to share. The music gives you a good take on the tenor of the album. Definitely makes you want more.
17 Pygmies-Celestina XII
Singer Meg Maryatt’s vocals are warm, sultry and full of emotion in this next song, Celestina XIX, a reprise of sorts from the first Celestina album.
“Well, wherever we go
If you’re by my side
That will be my heaven
Be my heaven”
17 Pygmies-Celestina XIX
Here is a song from Celestina. You see, you’re going to want to get both albums.
17 Pygmies-Celestina VI
You can read more about 17 Pygmies and their older music here. You can buy their stuff there, here or from the band’s Myspace Page.
I made this earlier this week for an out-of-town guest who is on a gluten-free diet. She thought it was the best tasting gluten-free dessert she’s ever had! I had to agree! Yum.
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