Spinning, Knitting, Crocheting, Organic Gardening, Living off-grid, and chasing sheep - because- I'm, like, NOT SANE!

Friday, August 03, 2007

Death by Chocolate Cake

Woot Woot! Thing 3 turned 8 yesterday and, after 3 years of failed attempts, I was able to bake him the famed 'Death by Chocolate Cake'. It's a combination of utter sin, some of my favorite Thing/hubster tested chocolate cake recipes, and coffee. Why, you ask, did it take me three stinking years to make one cake? Here's the dirty little secret of 'problems you face living off-grid'. We eat pretty seasonally around here. At the height of summer, with all the fresh produce in abundance and only a wood cookstove oven to bake in, we usually end up cooking our dinners on the grill and forgoing the 'here's what hell might feel like' heat of cooking with wood during a 9 day heat stretch in humid Maine. Thing 3's birthday is the only real hitch in that plan.

Birthdays are special at our house. Not special like I'm spending hundreds of dollars we don't have on a party to invite a bunch of kids to wear silly hats and eat ice cream sort of special - though if that's what makes anyone happy and they are enjoying their celebration, we see nothing 'wrong' about it. Here, though, a birthday means this: 1) said birthdayer is queen or king for the day. This means we eat what he or she likes (with common sense and health in consideration) 2) family is the game. We ALWAYS spend birthdays as a family. Even when thing 2 was in the hospital in Boston two summers ago and hubster was exhausted from driving from Maine to Boston every day for three days in a row AND we had to commandeer my dear friend's living room and home (she was watching Things 1 and 3 for me whilst I was dressing wounds and holding thing 2 real soft). Thing 2 endured extra wound cleanings, more pain than I could imagine, and all else to get out of the hospital a day early so he could attend his brother's birthday celebration. It's important. We share birth stories, laugh, sometimes cry, and generally remind each other that we are glad we are all here. and 3)handmade gifts mean 'I was willing to work like a dog just to make you happy'. Everyone participates in this process and helps to make gifts that are interesting and special. In a fit of 'oh shit, I didn't realize I only have three days left to make all this stuff', I learned to delegate. While I made an attempt at the dragon NOrberta, pictured here, thing 1 was feverishly crocheting a chessboard for felting. I did the pieces, based on expert written instructions from thing 2 (our chess specialist) and hubster is still working his arms to noodles felting the thing. When it is done, we'll all needle felt little dragons and mermaids on all the pcs. with their applicable symbol of status. This gift will, obviously, be late.

So, two years ago, thing 3 asked for THE CAKE. Shortly afterward, well, see hospital/kid/how many years off my life with worry was that reference above. Last year, it was 90 degrees on his b-day and we bought a crappy store cake (against my protest) that everyone ended up hating. The forecast for thing 3's b-day this year? 90+ degrees, humid, ozone alert, easy! Hubster and I joined forces, got up real early, and in the cool of the morning, made him a full breakfast of bacon, eggs, grits, gravy and biscuits and THE CAKE. We ate it last night with raspberry sauce (from our wild-harvested raspberries) and whipped cream. All was well.

This cake is not good for you and I assure you you will ruin it by trying to make it so. For heaven's sake, leave it alone. It's not the kind of thing you want to have regularly but, for a very special occasion, say, once every three years - it is worth the mortal sin:

Death by Chocolate Cake

8 squares Baker's semi-sweet chocolate squares
1/2 bag chocolate chips
2 sticks of butter
1.5 cups sugar
2 cups flour
1/2 cup super chocolate ovaltine
7 eggs, separated
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups sifted flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
dash salt
1/2 cup super strong black coffee

Beat egg yolk till smooth. Add sugar, beat smooth. Melt chocolate squares and chips with 2 sticks butter on low heat, stirring, in small saucepan. When chocolate is semi cool (not hot enough to scrambe eggs but not stiff) pour chocolate mix into egg/sugar mixture, stirring constantly as for a custard. Beat the whites to stiff peaks. Add cooled coffee and vanilla to chocolate/egg mix and then stir the flour and bkg. pwder in smoothly. Pour into buttered/floured pan and bake until done at a normal temp for your oven.

Icing - meant to make you feel bad

2 cups powdered sugar
1 stick butter
1/2 bag chocolate chips

melt butter in saucepan. Pour into mixing bowl with powdered sugar. Melt chocolate. Add to frosting, stirring. If too stiff to spread, add strong coffee 1 tbsp. at a time (it is really easy to add too much. IF you do, add a little more powdered sugar to even it out). Refrigerate for 1/2 hours before spreading on cooled cake.

Ask for forgiveness.

: a very wise comment noted the odd vanishing of the need for those stiff egg whites. This is a shame since I don't have the ability to use an electric mixer so I either have to beat them myself or persuade hubster to do it and stand there watching his muscular self do it with ease (which only makes me feel violent on a bad day or inappropriate on a not so bad day) - so, as you can see, our egg whites are earned! The egg whites should be VERY GENTLY folded into the rest of the mix AFTER you've incorporated your gooey egg yolk, sugar, chocolate mix with the flour and everything else. When you've beat that mixture smooth, add the egg whites and just fold gently until the 'white' is all gone. Pour into the pan and proceed in the manner you see fit (might as well have yourself a celebratory beer since you're already in the kitchen).