Happy (almost) Independence Day in US.
It was much of a week. Not bad, just full.
I train-ed up to bring my son back from university. Picked up rental car as my car is way too small to move stuff – I mean, when it’s the two of us and the dog with any shopping things get a bit crowded. Guy at car office said, “do you want to take pics of it before you go?” I almost didn’t but thankfully I did. As when I dropped it off here woman said “oh, this is damaged, and this …”. So, I submitted my pics showing that I didn’t cause the damage and we’ll see what happens. Moral of story: always take pics of whatever you rent — whether it’s car, house, etc –before you take possession.
It took four days to get all his laundry done (no, I didn’t do all of it). I’m just sayin’…
After I dropped the rental car off I took the bus back to our local down-at-the-heels beach town in order to visit the new Italian deli. We really lack these types of independent shops here. It is a sadness. But, oh joy! Six different types of cannoli; artichoke hearts and sun dried tomatoes; loads of different types of pasta. And best of all: smoked mozzarella (I first discovered this delicacy living in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, an Italian neighbourhood — it features in the film Moonstruck). In a madness I only bought one. I guess that gives me a reason to go back this week…
My mother made this wonder of a chocolate cake. Like, among the best I’ve ever had in all my time on this earth eating chocolate cake.
She’d make it for dinner parties and every time I visited home once I’d left, and I’d eat it cold out of the fridge for breakfast. It was great just after being baked and iced but it was a family joke my eating it cold for breakfast.
We called it killer cake and when I got married (eons ago) she included the recipe in the little recipe book she made me as a gift.
So, my mother died more than two decades ago and it took me over 10 years to try to bake it – and it was a complete disaster. Like it put me off trying again for years it came out that.bad.
This is a high maintenance cake: you need a proper heavy-duty stand mixer plus a separate hand mixer to do it with any small amount of ease. I didn’t have those implements when I last tried baking it.
Now, however, I own both. So, I had decided once the son was home I would have another go at making killer cake, this past Saturday.
This time, the stars aligned. All in, it took around three hours of solid work. My left hand developed a twitch. The kitchen was a disaster and it took two goes of the dishwasher to get it back to a semblance of normal – and I’m a ‘clean as you go along’ cook/baker. But I am delighted to say it worked (see pic). I don’t own a cake stand that rotates so a bit sloppy but who cares. It tastes like nirvana.
The cake part is ground almonds, bittersweet (dark here) chocolate chopped into small bits, seven eggs separated, sugar, a bit of baking powder and that’s it. You combine everything bar the egg whites, which have to be whipped separately and then folded … very.very.very carefully … into the rest of the batter. You can see what the interior looks like below.
The buttercream is butter (of course), melted dark chocolate, sugar and three eggs. I was concerned the melted chocolate would result in chocolate scrambled eggs but no problem. All good.
I was a bit nervous to taste when it was finished but … exactly like my mother’s (which made me sad as well as happy) and my son pronounced it ‘great’. Guess I won’t be waiting a decade to make it again.
In the run-up to making the cake I looked up perfumes that include chocolate or cocoa notes. The only thing I currently have to hand that includes a chocolate (well, cacao) note is Tauer Sundowner.
Chocolate is something I eat – never really sought it out in fragrance. Don’t have any chocolate candles (do they exist?). Would never consider chocolate room spray. In perfume, vanilla is my thing.
A load of fragrances have a chocolate, cacao or cocoa note. I mean seriously a load.
Here’s a list of just a few: Princess by Vera Wang; A*Men by Mugler; Lush I’m Home; Prada Candy Night; Demeter Dark Chocolate; and Tom Ford Black Orchid. Also, when I was trawling around the net I saw mentioned on the Persolaise blog something called Passion Victims (exclusive to Harrods here) by Wilgermain (never heard of them) that contains a cocoa note. Which I looked up simply because of the name.
So, is chocolate et al a note you like in fragrance? If yes, which ones? And is there a cake you make or remember (doesn’t have to be chocolate … really) that means home or family and all those associations?