Tuesday, July 15, 2008

One of the "Chocolate Elite"

The great Sandra Boynton, in her book, "Chocolate: The Consuming Passion", defines a member of the "Chocolate Elite" as someone who likes chocolate in all of its infinite variety (using the word "like" as in, "I like to breathe").

Let it be known to all readers of this blog (if it hasn't become wildly obvious already) that I am most definitely counted among the throngs of this illustrious group of people. And, if I keep eating chocolate the way I do, before too long, my steadily-increasing girth might very well qualify me as the equivalent of two, or perhaps even three Elitists.

I love chocolate.

Always have.

Want to know how much of a sickness my obsession is?

I love chocolate so much, I hoard it, and then I hide it from other people. I was stashing chocolate even when I was 21 years old, single, and living alone downtown in a bachelor apartment (it's hard enough to find hiding spots when you're living in a small, walk-in closet, and even harder to hide large boxes from ONESELF).

Last Friday was my 39th birthday (ahem), and it will be no surprise to anyone who knows me, that my very best birthday present... turned out to be the one that has ALWAYS been the very best.

My sainted, long-suffering parents showed up on my doorstep at ten o'clock in the morning, bearing an enormous, chocolate birthday cake.

Not just ANY birthday cake.

MY birthday cake. The cake that my mother has been baking for me for more years than I care to count. It is, to put it mildly, "choc-ful" of the most decadent ingredients you can imagine... and the mere THOUGHT of the taste sensation produced by every enormous mouthful is enough to make me want to lie down on the floor and roll around for awhile.

This cake isn't "easy", and it certainly isn't inexpensive to produce. But, it is quite possibly one of the most important recipes in our family "canon".

Because, this is cake. Truly magnificent cake. "Food Sex", my husband aptly calls it, and there ain't no higher culinary praise from a man than that.

But, most importantly, for me, the preparation of this cake, year after year, is a symbol of how very much my mother loves me.

That... mixed, quite possibly, with a small dose of revenge-- no doubt felt in its fullness, as she closes my front door on three hyper-active, sugar-high grandchildren, at the end of each and every birthday visit.

But you know what?

It's TOTALLY worth it.

Thanks, Mum. Love you, too.

MY Birthday Cake
(Go bake your own!)

For the cake (3 layers):

2 c all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp double-acting baking powder
1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp salt
2 c sugar
2/3 c water
2 large eggs
4 oz unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled
1 c sour cream
1 tsp vanilla

For the filling:

2/3 c black cherry preserves
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice

For the chocolate dipped cherries, and icing:

1 8-oz jar of maraschino cherries, WITH stems, drained and rinsed
1/3 c cherry brandy (or plain brandy, actually)
16 oz semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled
1 c of sour cream at room temperature
1/2 tsp vanilla

Okay... are you ready for this??


Into a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat together the sugar and the butter, until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. Then, beat in the chocolate, the sour cream, the vanilla and the water. Add the flour mixture and beat the batter at "high" speed for 3 minutes.

Line the bottoms of 3 buttered 8-inch round cake pans with rounds of waxed paper. Butter the rounds and dust the pans with flour, shaking out the excess. Divide the batter evenly among the pans and bake the layers in the middle of a pre-heated, 350 degree oven, for 35-40 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool the cake in the pans for 10 minutes, then run a knife around the edges, and invert onto wire cooling racks.


In a blender or food processor, puree the preserves with the lemon juice, until the filling is smooth. Transfer the filling to a small bowl.

Chocolate Dipped Cherries:

Arrange the cherries in a small bowl, cover them with brandy, and let them macerate in the freezer for 30 minutes. Drain the cherries. (*hic*) Dip them one-at-a-time in the chocolate, letting the excess drip off. Place them on a tray lined with wax paper, and chill them in the fridge until the cake is ready to decorate.


In a bowl, beat together the remaining chocolate, the sour cream, a pinch of salt, and the vanilla, until the icing is combined well. The icing should be very glossy. If the sour cream is too cool, the icing will become too firm... if this happens, add 1 or 2 tbsp of hot water.

Assemble the cake, spreading half of the filling between each layer. Spread the outside with chocolate icing, and then arrange the chocolate dipped cherries in a circle on top.

Serves One Highly "Elite" Birthday Girl.


ewe are here said...

H*ll. Boynton AND and overresearched book on Chocolate!?! I must have it!

Happy Birthday! And I love the new header.

Multi-tasking Mommy said...

Ok, that sounds scrumptious...especially to this pregnant lady....

Hmmm...what special occasion excuse is coming up that I can make a cake for?

Ah ha!!! Our 5 year anniversary, that's an occasion deserving of a chocolate cake, isn't it?

Candygirlflies said...

Hey, Ewe--

Even better? The book "Don't Let The Turkeys Get You Down", by Sandra Boynton.

But that's a WHOLE 'nother blog post...

xoxo CGF

Leeann said...

I must thank you.

I just gained 20 lbs reading this post. :)

mrinz said...

Mmmm chocolate/chocolate cake Mmmmm. My weakness too.

Someone told me once that it is attractive to us because it melts at body temperature.

Do you have Mud cake in Canada?

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