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After I cleaned up the rest of the seven-herb congee it was finally time to make the sweets.
I put on the apron I brought from home.
“Hmmmm, the utensils are here and the flavourings are over here. As for the recipes it’s right here in this book,” said Wakaba-chan as she showed me her notebook.
“Did you come up with these yourself, Takamichi-san?”
“Dad taught me some of them, and some caught my eye in recipe books. A number I heard from other people too.”
My cooking was usually wherever my inspiration led me in the moment so I didn’t have much regarding recipes.
Not that any of my creations were worth recreating with a recipe.
“Let’s break out the ingredients then. First we need cream cheese, chocolate, and eggs.”
I found a familiar jar in her fridge.
“Hmm? Ohh, that. I got it as a souvenir from someone else. It’s actually amazingly good! Do you wanna try some, Kisshouin-san?”
There was no mistaking it.
It was the very same maple syrup that I got from Enjou and Kaburagi.
“Could it be that you received this from Kaburagi-sama?”
“Eh-, how’d you know!?”
“I received some as well. To be honest my preferences lean towards honey, but this was so good it beat out everything in my honey collection.”
“So that’s why! It was so delicious that I couldn’t bear to make stuff with it so I’ve just been eating it a bit at a time but everyone finds it so delicious that there isn’t much left. And it’s sooo good on vanilla ice cream.”
“That does sound good!”
Putting it on ice cream, huh.
It was a bit cold for ice cream, but maybe I could try it after my next bath.
“But man, it sounds amazing going to Canada for a skiing vacation. I’ve never been overseas before.”
“You have the shop after all.”
With so many family members and the cake shop too it couldn’t have been easy to organise an overseas holiday.
Aahh! I’d almost forgotten!
“Takamichi-san! Do you have a passport!?”
“A passport? No?”
At Zui’ran our high school trip was obviously overseas.
And at Zui’ran it was almost a matter of course that everyone had a passport.
It was actually a plot point in the manga that she didn’t have one.
In the end she just managed to get one in time, but everyone mocked her for not having one to begin with.
“You know that we will be going to Europe for the field trip, no? Almost everybody at Zui’ran has a passport already so nobody mentions passports until it is almost time to go.”
“I think it would be best if you applied for one soon. It takes time to gather the documents and the photos, and it takes another 10 days after that to receive it.”
“Oh okay. I hadn’t thought of that at all! Thanks for letting me know, Kisshouin-san! I’ll go get one soon!”
Ahh, thank goodness I remembered.
She had been pretty ashamed in the manga.
It had been over 15 years since I last read it so it was hard remembering all the little episodes.
You did well reminding me, Kaburagi’s maple syrup!
Although I wonder when he even gave it to her.
“All right then! Shall we begin?”
Under Wakaba-chan’s instruction I began making the chocolate cheesecake.
I mixed ingredients as I followed the recipe.
Wakaba-chan was really particular about it.
“You really need to follow the amounts that the recipe says.”
“Ah… Just now you put in the cream cheese without measuring, didn’t you.”
“I thought it would be nice with a little more…”
“It’s going to clump up.”
“A few lumps gives it character, no?”
“No. Mix it in properly.”
You’re pretty strict, Wakaba-chaan.
“I’m home!” called an energetic voice.
Her oldest younger brother had just come back.
“Welcome home,” I said as well.
“Ah! It’s the cornet girl!” he said, pointing right at me.
“Kanta!” chided Wakaba-chan, “Her name isn’t cornet girl, it’s Kisshouin-san! And don’t point at people!”
“Answer me properly!”
“Alright, alright,” he waved her off as he headed off to wash his hands.
“Sorry about him,” she apologised.
“No worries. It must be rough being an older sister.”
“He’s been so full of himself since entering middle school. He doesn’t listen to anything I say. Geez,” she muttered as she began mixing up the bowl again.
“Hey, Cornet,” called Kanta-kun while I was looking at the notebook.
“Look at this! Neechan got it from some guy!”
Kanta-kun was holding a teddybear.
“Kanta! You went into my room again, didn’t you!” fumed Wakaba-chan.
From his face, Kanta-kun didn’t seem too bothered.
“He sent it to her on Christmas!” he revealed.
“Could it have been from…”
“Ah, well,” she said awkwardly.
“Isn’t it kind of childish to send her a doll though?”
“This teddybear is a limited edition Christmas product from Germany,” I noted.
“So it’s not just some bear?” Kanta-kun asked.
“Well, it certainly is a teddybear,” I conceded, “but I would feel bad for it if you lumped it together with the others. It comes with a serial number too. A very respectable teddybear.”
Buying her this, huh.
Despite making fun of me for liking limited-edition products he went and bought one himself.
“I accepted it because it was just a stuffed toy, but don’t tell me this is expensive…?”
Wakaba-chan seemed almost afraid to ask.
“Just a few tens of thousand yen, I recall.”
“Tens of thousands!?” she cried.
“That’s freaking expensive!” baulked her brother.
Both siblings seemed horrified at it.
“You’re freaking expensive for a doll, aren’t you!”
“What do I do? It was a doll so I was just like ‘yeah, thanks’!”
While the two of them kicked up a fuss, I didn’t really see the big deal.
“Why not just accept it? You know, this is actually rather cheap for a present from Kaburagi-sama.”
“A doll that costs tens of thousands of yen…”
While the two of them were reeling from shock, I took the chance to continue making the cheesecake.
Oh, maybe I could add some liqueur for extra flavour.
Here we go.
“Ah!? Kisshouin-san! What are you doing!?”
“Hm? Adding some liqueur.”
“Why are you adding it to begin with? The recipe doesn’t list it, right?”
“Well, I thought it might taste better.”
Both Wakaba-chan and Kanta-kun stared at me speechless for a while. He was still holding the bear.
“…I’ve been thinking this for a while now, but could it be that you’ve always been cooking like this? Adding things however you want, I mean.”
“Well, perhaps not however I want. But sometimes inspiration just strikes me. Every meal should be a unique experience, and all that.”
“My god…” she muttered.
Off to the side, Kanta-kun took a spoon of the mixture to taste.
“Urgh!” he grimaced. “What the hell is this supposed to be!? It’s sour! And bitter!”
“So you added enough liqueur to make it bitter, Kisshouin-san…”
“You’re exaggerating, Kanta-kun! I only put in a little!”
“Even the aftertaste is bitter! As the son of a baker I can’t accept this! If you’re baking a cake then always follow the recipe!”
“That cannot be…”
“I think Kanta’s right…” said Wakaba-chan. “When it comes to making sweets you need to be exacting with the amounts. This might be why your cooking hasn’t been as good as what you’ve bought…”
After that, Wakaba-chan adjusted the batter while Kanta-kun guarded me from doing anything unnecessary.
Eventually we somehow managed to make the cheesecake.
It was probably one of the best two things I’d ever made!
This was huge!
“This isn’t good at all…”
The verdict of the siblings was harsher though.
They went back into another lecture on how important it was to follow the recipe.
Then her dad showed up and repeated it again to me. How important it was to measure the ingredients properly.
I felt enlightened.
So unlike regular cooking, the knack to making desserts was following the recipe.
I vowed to improve.
When it was time to leave, Wakaba-chan came with me to the station.
Since we had the time, I asked her about Christmas again.
“Ummm… Well, when we were about to close up the store, Kaburagi-kun appeared and said that it was a Christmas present.”
“He was wearing this jet black coat and seemed more mature than usual. And the streetlights seemed to make him shine so I was like, whoa, this is a real Emperor!”
So that damned Kaburagi slipped out from his family’s party to hand this to her?
Apparently quite a few things were happening without my knowledge.
I decided to ask him next time.
“Well then, goodbye for now.”
“Yeah. Stay safe!”
I passed through the ticket barriers as she waved goodbye.