Well, now. Who saw that coming? Like, who actually, really, honest-to-goodness saw that coming. It’s like, if someone had said to me a few weeks ago, “Hey Willow, Dr. Teeth from The Muppet Show will be president-elect on November 9th”, I would have spit my drink in your face laughing and we all would have had a good hardy-har-har then got a sub on the way home. But then it happened. Except it’s worse.
I don’t want to mention any names because this is a food blog. I loooove shooting my mouth off about politics, but it’s different when you’re drinking with your friends or yelling at the television with your dad. But as soon as you put things online there are sad trolly-types googling stuff and looking to cause trouble and hey, they get hungry too and maybe they’re looking for a curry recipe or something. Well, umm…maybe not a curry recipe. Anyhoo.
(Is president-elect supposed to be capitalized because I’M NOT DOING IT.)
I’ve been working on a blog for months now, trying to eek out a few sentences in between getting thrown up on and singing Baby Beluga thirty-eight times a day. But then the world woke up to the orange billionaire version of their least favourite drunk uncle being handed the keys to the White House and it seemed a bit trite to post some chirpy blog about being a tired new mom. Suddenly, nothing else mattered except cake. All I wanted to do was drop everything and bake something for no other reason than I craved comfort and chocolate and distraction from disbelief that a man-child with a golden toilet got elected president of the most powerful country on earth.
Okaaaaay, so I like to stress eat. I mean, I love to stress eat. I wish I could transfer that into something a bit healthier like going for a run or journaling or woodworking. But who felt like strapping on a pair of sneakers or breaking out the old power jointer after that shitshow of an election night? After an ugly-cry and a cuddle-chat with my baby about the importance of him being a good feminist, I had to make a cake. I was obsessed with making a cake, and not a quick-fix mix either (with obvious respect and love for the quick fix), but a luxurious, homemade chocolate cake in one of those glass cake stands. So I wouldn’t have to cover it with cling wrap and ruin the icing and it could sit on the counter for a week (hahahaha) with the sun glinting off the glass. And I wanted cream cheese icing. Not an icing traditionally paired with chocolate, but think how good chocolate cheesecake is, so why doesn’t this combination happen more often? I would make this happen, but first I needed to run out and buy some cream cheese. And one of those glass cake stands.
I wanted this cake stand in my life so bad I broke my “No Mall after October 31st” rule and ended up pulling in early enough I could easily find a parking space, and let me tell you, I was feeling pretty goddamn pleased with myself for being so on top of things. I think I’d even managed to do the dishes before I’d left the house and taken a sho- haha of course I hadn’t taken a shower. Anyways, I wasn’t thinking (I have an 8-month old, rarely happens) and EVERY RETIRED GRANDMOTHER had taken the bus to the mall to go Christmas shopping and every single one of them were in the kitchenware aisle at Winners, practically tossing Le Creuset lids at each other in search of the perfect reindeer oven mitts or whatever, I don’t know. No fancy cake stands there so I popped over to the relative cool and calm of Stokes, the store I avoid like the plague because it’s full of stuff I really want but don’t reeeeally need. Like cake stands! Poof, done, thirty bucks, in and out, later grammas. After stopping at Laura Secord to buy four French mint chocolate bars to calm my nerves, of course.
When I got home I held my mother-in-law hostage while the baby was napping, in case he woke up and I was mid-cake. I wanted this done and under the dome by suppertime, and if nap time ended early I would have had to drop everything and pay attention to him like he was an 8-month old or something. Babies are sooooooo needy. But because this recipe is so fast and easy, Squirtface slept through cake and cream cheese icing, and more importantly, slept through me having to share licking the beaters or bowl with him. I haven’t quite figured out how that will work when he’s old enough to realize what’s going on. Always baking during nap time? Hiding in the closet with the bowl while he’s loading the dishwasher for me? I’ll get back to you. I suppose I could…share. Jesus. Again, with the needy youngsters.
I’m not really sure where this recipe originally came from…it’s been in my family for years and it’s still my mom’s go-to. We used to eat it after Sunday dinner right out of the oven with hot custard. An old Hershey cookbook, maybe? Hmmm. If they’re reading this they’ll hopefully be too busy to take legal action because everyone in America will be stress eating so much chocolate Hershey won’t have time to look up from their golden thrones.
Mom’s Deep Dark Chocolate Cake
2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa
1 1/2 tsp EACH baking soda and baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup milk (2% or 3.25%)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water
Sift dry ingredients together. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla and beat with a mixer on medium speed until mixed well. Add boiling water last, stirring with a large spoon or whisk until mixture is smooth. Batter will be very thin. Bake at 350° in a greased 9×13 pan for 35-40 minutes, or two standard round cake pans for around 30 minutes. Cake tester or toothpick should come out clean when inserted in middle of the cake.
Cream Cheese Icing (from The Complete Magnolia Bakery Cookbook, Simon and Schuster, 2009)
1 8-oz package cream cheese, softened and cut into small pieces
3 tbsp unsalted butter, softened and cut into small pieces
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter until smooth, about 3 minutes. Add the vanilla and beat well. Gradually add the sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating continuously until smooth and creamy. Cover and refrigerate for 2-3 hours, but no longer, to thicken before using.
(This recipe is halved from the original in the book, and it’s more than enough to generously ice the chocolate cake when baked in 2 standard round cake pans)
If you’ve never baked a cake, homemade or not, this is your recipe. I can’t even begin to describe how moist and delicious it is and besides, there’s no time. I saw Melancholia, I know how the shit ends, can we all just start strapping on our aprons, please. Mom’s always been a bit hush-hush about the recipe, but I’m sure even she would agree these are desperate times and if you have a secret family recipe just put it out there now and everyone can eat really well in our bunkers when drunk uncle starts angry-tweeting about North Korea instead of Alec Baldwin and we all have to go into hiding.
Was I ever pleased with myself when this came out of my notoriously too-hot-for-baking oven perfectly done. I couldn’t wait for it to cool and for the icing to set to get it all dressed up in its winter clothes and set it under its new glass dome-home. I couldn’t keep Nanny that long, bless her heart, so she got sent home with a promise of cake delivery and a visit from Squirtface and his dad on Saturday morning. That’s the day I get to sleep till noon and drink coffee in front of the television, pretending my chronic sleep deprivation is a hangover from a glamorous night out. I even go to bed on Friday night with a full face of makeup to fool myself into believing it on Saturday morning. I’m kidding. I had to throw out all my makeup because it expired. Anyway. Cake.
Supper was in the oven and Squirt was in bed when I finally got to finish my End of the World Chocolate Cake. I’m no cake decorator, but I slathered on the icing and swirled it around to make it look like a rustic-type creation that I wouldn’t be completely ashamed to put in front of a Martha Stewart-Nigella Lawson type pal who popped in for tea. And you know what? It was gorgeous! Like a marshmallowy, snowy, creamy thing that with the right kind of lighting and set decorating, could maybe grace the cover of a (low-end) food magazine. I was feeling like a Democrat before the polls closed, all ready to pop a bottle of champagne as soon as they called Florida.
But hang on a second, what’s this? I can’t seem to…the dome won’t…I put the cake on a plate to ice it and now it…
Son of a bitch.
The glass dome wouldn’t fit over the plate. No one told me I had to put the cake directly on the stand in order for the dome to fit over it. Florida wasn’t a sure thing, how could I have thought my glass cake stand would be too? It was time to concede my victory and get the goddamn toothpicks and cling wrap.
Just remember, they can take away our cake stands, but they can’t take away our cake. Or something like that. And count your toothpicks. I panicked when I counted seven after the delivery to my in-laws, knowing without a doubt I had put eight in, but Justin reassured me that was because he’d almost eaten one earlier that afternoon, so we were good.
Anyways, onwards and upwards. Or sideways. Or ass backwards. Whatever gets you through the next four years. Like a lot of canned goods and batteries in your basement. Until next time!