life’s not always a piece of cake.

On my right hand, I can count the most memorable desserts in my life. 

I ate one of these this past year in 2010. 

During a monthly office visit at a local veterans’ hospital, Janice— a fellow foodie and preceptor—shared with me a slice of her famous three layer German Chocolate Cake.  I took one bite and my tongue felt as if it had instantly entered chocoholic’s heaven.  It was light and buttery.  Smooth but strong.  Sweet and bold.  I knew this was something special, even before realizing how famous this cake actually was.

In a sense, it was the dessert that defined Jan and her cooking style.  A little like Julia and her beef bourguignon. Everyone raved about it.  Each slice sold for $6 at bake sales.  Most people claimed a slice before the sale actually started, just to make sure that they had a peice or two.  

And so, I wanted to recreate this masterpiece.  I wanted to delve head first into chocolate and coconut and pecans and share this same heavenly experience with my family.

I wanted to make this German Chocolate Cake for mom on her birthday.

Unfortunately, life isn’t always a piece of cake.  Because somehow I misread the recipe.  In fact, I misread an entire sentence.  

“Place wax paper on bottom of cake pan.”

Oops.

“Oops” is an understatement.  In fact, if Nicole hadn’t been there, I probably would have broke down into a fit of tears. 

But really, it’s impossible to cry when your sister is trying to console you while also snapping pictures, because “this totally makes good blogging material,” all at the same time.  So instead, I just scraped up the pan, threw everything into the trash, and grabbed my purse.

“Nicole?”  I said matter of factly.  “We are driving to a bakery.  We are going to get mom a beautiful piece of cake.  And then we are going to Starbucks and we are getting a latte.”

I’m not saying that I’m giving up on this cake.  In fact, I’ve just begun.

Valentines Day is February 14.  I will make this cake every single weekend if I have to, until it tastes and looks like that favorite dessert that I remember so well.

In the meantime, I am very thankful for my favorite little bakery down the road. 

And I am very thankful that they make a spectacular German Chocolate Cake.

You know what else I’m thankful for?  A family who loves me through tears and moods and life. 

A family that continues to make me smile. 

A family that is always there for me.

A family that doesn’t take life too seriously.

A family who loves me through all the crumbs and cake. 

Happy Birthday to Mom!  And I promise you the most beautiful of homemade German Chocolate Cakes in the year of 2011.  😉

Question: Have you ever made a major cooking flop?  How did you react?  I’ve noticed that most of my flops have involve baked goods.  And I”ve got to be honest, I definitely overreact in such a situation! 😉 

weekend post: time to visit

My older brother—Matthew—and Kelsey—his fun and awesome girlfriend—live in Boston.

Matthew has lived there for a year.  And here’s the thing: I’ve never actually visited him.

I hate admitting that, even here on the blog.  I mean, he’s my brother.  The guy I looked up to as a kid.  He was always the life of the party.  The environmentalist who went vegetarian because he felt so strongly about the subject.  The guy who told me to just block out the pain of a hard run—just keep running.  The guy who convinced me to eat tree sap because “it taste like honey” (which it does NOT, by the way 😉 ).  The protective big brother who came to visit me while I was working in a grocery store, asking me where the creepy, jerky guys were, just so that he could beat them up for me.   

Somehow plans came and went.  I constantly told him, “I’ll visit you soon!” while the weeks and months flew by.  So it was about time that I actually visited him at his “new” location.

His apartment is in such a perfect little location.  Trees outside the front porch make you forget for a moment that you’re in a big city.  A quiet side road leads you directly to a cozy cafe.  A turn around the corner is like pulling back the curtain, allowing you to see the heart of the city.  A quaint little cupcake spot (more on that later!) is little more than a half a mile away.

Old world style wood floors make your shoes clink, clank as you make your way to to the spacious, airy kitchen.  And the pantry!?!   Adorable.  Just too adorable. 😀

There was also a cat named Ellum.

And a batch of kombucha sitting atop the fridge. :mrgreen:

After my initial tour of the apartment, Matthew, Kelsey and I headed out for food and fun.  There was so much covered in one short little day, that it’s almost impossible to narrow it all down.

I could tell you about the seaweed salad or the eel & avocado roll that I ate at a favorite sushi spot.  (Yes, eel!  I loved it!! 😀 )

I could tell you about the Spinach Waldorf Salad that I bought at a cafe, studded with buttery, sugared walnuts and sprinkled with bleu cheese.  Bursts of flavor in each crunchy, creamy bite.

I could tell you about the dog I fell in love with (as my mom would say, what dog don’t I fall in love with?) :mrgreen:

BUT, this is a food blog.  And I’d much rather talk about cupcakes.

Honestly, I’m not the biggest “sweets” person in the world.  I’d much rather have a big ol’ caprese sandwich.  Or a melted brie sandwich.  Or even a larger than life salad with fun ingredients.  I’ll never eat dessert first, because I would rather save the extra room for a cheese and fruit platter before the entree.  It’s how I roll.

Unless we’re talking cupcakes. 

I love how personal they are.  Like little pillows of delight, made especially for you.  It doesn’t matter if there are a dozen or so cupcakes that look identical to the one in your hand.  This is your cupcake and it was made with you in mind.  Right?  Of course.   

Everyone placed their orders.  Matthew ordered the cookies and cream.

Kelsey ordered the red velvet.

And I took a flying leap out of my own cupcake comfort box and ordered the white chocolate espresso. 

I felt like a little kid at a candy store, as I purchased my cupcake and dunked my finger into the fluffy frosting.  But there was nothing “little kid” about this all-grown-up cupcake.  The rich flavors of coffee intertwined with the black speckles of vanilla beans.  Sweet, but not overly so.  The white chocolate became an afterthought, in a very good way. 

It was so fun catching up with Matthew and Kelsey over sushi, salads, coffees and cupcakes.  A very full day, in every which way.  And, I don’t plan on waiting a full year before visiting him the next time around. 😉 

Question: What is your favorite kind of cupcake?