I’m proud of this cake for two reasons.
First: It’s probably the prettiest cake I’ve ever made, up to and including that time I tried to craft one shaped like a football. With… mixed results. (But hey, it tasted great, I swear!)
Second: It represents what may be the greatest challenge I’ve ever faced: 40 days without cheese.
Let me explain.
After much discussion, Mikey and I have come up with a basic plan for the whole “interfaith” thing. The general gist: He does my holidays, and I do his.
Which means I’m going to have to get comfortable with decorating a Christmas tree (ugh), and he’s going to have to get comfortable with eating delicious latkes and brisket and homemade applesauce each December. (Rough deal, right?) He’s going to have to deal with High Holiday services, and I’m going to have to deal with spending three hours in a church on Holy Saturday, trying not to get burned by errant candle wax or gawk at the statue of the Virgin Mary with a sword through her heart.
And maybe most difficult of all: From here on out, he’s going to keep Passover with me. And I, in turn, am going to do Lent.
Correction: I did do Lent! This year! And I didn’t do it half-assed, either — I actually spent a full 40 days avoiding bagels with schmear, and the free string cheese in my office’s fridge, and pizza. Oh, pizza.
I know what you’re thinking: Haven’t my people suffered enough? Truly, though, it wasn’t that bad — and I certainly had it easier than Mikey, who gave up both dessert and alcohol. (That is some next-level Catholicism right there.)
What I didn’t realize going into the whole Lent thing, though, is that it all leads to a fantastic endpoint: midnight on Easter Sunday. When you reintroduce whatever it is you gave up. And when I say “reintroduce,” I mean you go HAM on that shit.
So that night, Mikey, bless his heart, made me a trio of mini-grilled cheeses, each one on a different kind of bread, each filled with a different delectable, dairy-forward filling.
And I, in return, made him a cake.
Chocolate Chip Cake; main text Nonnie’s, italicized asides my own
1/2 cup butter or margarine [You won’t use margarine, right? Rhetorical question]
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate bits [Or, you know, chips, as plugged in the name of the cake]
Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, and beat until fluffy. Add vanilla to sour cream. Sift flour, salt, baking powder, and soda together. Add sour cream and dry ingredients, alternatively, to butter mixture until combined and mixture is smooth. [Can you go ahead and make this a one-bowl cake if you’re lazy, dumping everything into the same vessel and just being careful not to overmix? My lazy, lazy gut says yes.] Mix in chocolate bits.
Pour batter into greased 8″ square pan and bake in 350 oven for 35-40 minutes, or until it tests done. [Mine needed an extra 15 minutes to reach that point; this amount of batter might’ve actually worked better in a 9″ round cake pan, because the ends were finished before the center had set.]
The verdict: Served naked, this yellow, birthday cake-esque confection is pretty good. It’s a touch dry, perhaps, but stacked with enough chocolate chips — most of which do sink to the bottom of the cake — to make up for that particular shortcoming.
I can tell you, though, that it takes even better to being jazzed up with a white buttercream that’s been boosted with two heaping tablespoons of cocoa powder, plus a dash of cream for spreadability. And a sprinkling of the white sanding sugar you forgot you bought for a holiday party like, three years ago. And a border made of still more chocolate chips.
And, of course, when it’s served as the finale to a three-course meal made almost entirely of cheese. Who knew I’d end up liking Lent?