Thursday, March 29, 2007

stout...but in a good way.

the happy buddha approves.

i've been dying to make Nigella Lawson's Chocolate Guinness Cake for quite a while. it's a beautiful cake, meant to look like a dark pint of stout with a frothy top. i'd been drooling over the picture in Feast for over a year (the page is starting to dimple with damp), but could never find a sufficient enough reason to bake it.

pish! posh! pshaw! life itself is a sufficient reason to bake!

so, patty's day it was going to be (appropriate, right?) but alas, my ambition fizzled and went kersplat after two nights cocktail waitressing until 3 am. forced to choose between baking or bed, i chose bed.'s been a stressful-strange past couple of weeks, and i've had a hard time relaxing. i come home absolutely exhausted, lie down in bed thinking i'm going to konk out in seconds and then...


lilliputian Boy Scouts parachute onto my bed and tie millions of little knots up and down my neck and spine.

so, ya know, that makes it hard to sleep...



i know that part of the reason i'm having trouble relaxing is that i'm always anticipating the next "to do," whether it be for work-work, cocktail-waitressing-work or size-ate-work, my brain is always on "work mode."

so last night, i put it on "bake mode."

inspired by a visit to farmgirl, i read about her emergency chocolate cake and decided that tonight was the night to bake myself to a better me, a more ME me. when i'm angry, i make soup because i can chop chop chop CHOP CHOP CHOP slice slice slice slice whack whack whack stir stir stir CHOP! without hurting anyone, and when i'm tense, i bake because it relaxes me. the rhythmic stirring, the careful measuring, the finger-licking, the sweet-warm scent that wraps its arms around my entire apartment and holds it tight for hours. i cannot afford a trip to a spa, i cannot afford a massage, i cannot afford to buy Valium on the black market, but i can afford the ingredients for a little emergency cake baking therapy.

and for the record, i slept like a wee lass. so well, in fact, there was a pool of drool on my pillow when i awoke. i fine sign indeed.

on my mom's Royal Doulton china
(that's her and my aunt charlene in the background - my cooking muses).

the recipe i followed is this one here. nigella uses dry cocoa in her recipe, but Little Bouffe uses bar chocolate. i feel a little guilty defying Nigella, but if given the opportunity to choose, i prefer using bar chocolate instead of cocoa. as a fan of the aggressively moist, gooey baked good as opposed to the delicately cakey, i don't like the idea of adding DRY, PROCESSED CHOCOLATE POWDER to my cakes, brownies, cookies and frostings. some people feel you need to reduce the butter or shortening in your recipe to offset that added by using bar chocolate, but i think not. i've never done so, and i've never been displeased with the results. also, i made cupcakes - they're easier to share - so i adjusted the baking time to approx. 25 minutes at 350 degrees.

and now i MUST have one of these.

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