Plainclothes Feast

A weekly peek at one dinner table, in the heart of one home, in the center of the country

Mommy’s special chocolate cake

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This month has whirred by, a chocolaty blur of birthday cakes and cream-filled hearts, a fevered haze of Fifth Disease and ear infections, a flurried blitz of graded essays and Common Core standards. In other words, the last month of my life has been just exactly like my life as combination stay-at-home-mom and work-at-home-teacher…only more so.

We’ve been eating pretty well, I think, given the fact that most days at least one of our smaller members has spent dinnertime on the couch whining for popsicles, but I haven’t taken many pictures of our dinners-in-progress. Some weeks, I’ve grocery shopped with two puny kids in the basket of the cart and all the groceries crammed in the the seat and balanced on the tray beneath. To be honest, I’m ready to declare that a new month begins now, on February 15th, and maybe the month ahead will bring hot cocoa and snow days, crisp walks to school with the kids dashing ahead, evenings on the couch watching crime TV, and written proof of our daily existence.

Although I didn’t take many photos of our food, I did snap a few shots of my oldest child on his birthday, getting ready to tuck into what he calls “Mommy’s special chocolate cake.”

Gus's birthday

If you look closely, you can see the cake at the bottom of the image, but first you’ll have to stop marveling at the size of those crazed brown eyes and trying to determine what in the world he has on his head. That’s a Viking helmet that is just a smidgen too big for his noggin and a knit cap underneath to make it stay put, and, yes, he is trying to look insane. It’s one of his favorite tricks. See, this is what he looked like just a moment later, when his inner joy got the best of him:

Gus's birthday2

The glossy cake in front of him originally sported 8 candles, but he’s already licked the frosting off of a few of them.

I can’t claim the recipe in any real way, except to say that I took the frosting from one cake recipe and the cake from a different one. So I’ll call it a remix, which means I can assume a modicum of credit.

I’m pretty sure that I gain 5 pounds every time I think about making this cake, but it’s totally worth every ounce. This is the most lickable frosting in the world. It’s like painting your cake with a thick layer of shockingly shiny fudge. The cake beneath it might be plausibly considered beside the point, but why write it off? This one is tender and springy and absurdly easy.

If you decide to make it, you should go ahead and claim it, too!

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