Saturday, July 13, 2013

chocolate-filled mess



I strongly believe that chocolate can fix any emotional ailment. This was the first time in my life that I was away from my grandmother and mother on their birthdays. The first time I actually had to pick up a phone and call to wish them a good day.

It just hit me. This being a grown-up thing is real. And that’s when I decided to bake the most chocolate-y chocolate cake I could find. {Plus, I wanted another excuse to use my new apple green KitchenAid mixer.}

Deciding which chocolate-y delight was easy, I just chose the one for which I had the most ingredients. It was four-layer, dark chocolate masterpiece with a decadent chocolate buttercream frosting.

Being part of a two-person household and completely inexperienced at multiple-layer cake baking, I decided to curb my ambition at only two layers. Thus, the baking began.

I followed the directions below perfectly, and the batter came out just right. My mixer looked beautiful covered in flour and oil as I placed the two pans into the oven. And when I took them out 35 minutes later, I even let them cool for longer than the allotted time {talk about patience}.

Yet, something went wrong while transferring the cakes from the baking pan to the “wire rack” {that looks suspiciously like a white plate}. They crumbled into pieces.

Because you need me to point out the mess in that picture...
I molded and placed the chocolate pieces into a circular shape to the best of my abilities. I thought to myself, “Once I put the icing on, no one will be able to notice – until they cut in, of course.”

And after the cake was iced, I was right – no one could really see the chocolate mess underneath. And then I started laughing, because I realized just how much that cake was like me.

I go to interviews and post Instagram photos of my “icing exterior.” Married life in a new town is just beautiful and delicious. And sometimes it is. But if I am being truly honest with myself {and you}, more times than not, I feel stressed and confused and like a big, chocolate-filled mess.

And that’s okay. Because that chocolate cake was possibly one of the best cakes I have ever tasted {and, yes, I am most likely biased}. It was moist and rich and perfect with small dab of vanilla frozen yogurt. And when I look back on my life, this struggle and confusion and wandering is going to be a beautiful, rich time of learning and discovery.

And sometimes all you need to brighten your day is a big slice of chocolate cake.

{click above to see what it was supposed to look like}

Cake Ingredients:
·      2 cups sugar
·      1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
·      ¾ cup Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa {I used regular, off-brand cocoa}
·      1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
·      1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
·      1 teaspoon salt
·      2 eggs
·      1 cup milk
·      ½ cup vegetable oil
·      2 teaspoons vanilla extract
·      1 cup boiling water

Cake Directions:
1.     Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour {Flour? Oops, that’s probably where I went wrong.} two 9-inch round pans or one 13x9-inch baking pan.

2.     Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of electric mixer for two minutes. Stir in boiling water {batter will be thin}. Pour batter into prepared pans. 

3.     Bake 30 to 35 minutes for round pans, and 35 to 40 minutes for rectangular pan or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes, and then remove from pans to wire racks {be careful}! Cool completely. Frost with one bowl of buttercream frosting. It will serve 8-10 people {or 2 people for four plus days}.

Icing Ingredients:
·      8 tablespoons of butter or margarine, softened
·      3 cups of powdered sugar
·      2/3 cups of Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa {or not…}
·      1/3 cup milk
·      1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Icing Directions:
1.     Beat room temperature butter in medium bowl until fluffy.

2.     Add powdered sugar and cocoa alternately with milk, beating to spreading consistency {additional or less milk may be needed}.

3.     Stir in vanilla. Makes about two cups of frosting.

4.     Frost that cake and eat it, too! Enjoy!

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