August 13, 2009

Bon Anniversaire to me, Or, What to make for dinner when your husband is late for an Anniversary Meal

It's funny, whenever Will and I have plans of any sort, his work suddenly has a project that just cant wait till tomorrow and he end up spending half the night working while I seethe at home over missed occasions, dinners, parties and concerts. EVERY TIME. OK, it's not funny, it down right annoying. It's all down to the fact that his company has a West Coast office. And they, invariably, decide at 2 their time, 5 ours, that there is something that MUST be done before morning and Will is the only one to do it. And then at 5 their time, eight ours, they pass along a set of changes that must be made to that thing and then go blithely home to their families while Will works away into the night. They like to set up must attend meetings at 5 their time as well. So kind.

Tonight was our ninth wedding anniversary. I had plans. I spent the morning baking a cake, I bought wine (sparkling red, something I've never had before) marinated the pork chops, fed the kids early, put them to bed and then I got the call. "I'm going to be late" Nice.

So, not having any clue when my husband would make it home for dinner I made myself a tide me over meal. What do you eat when you don't want to spoil your dinner but need to eat something substantial so you don't keel over from hunger? Well, if your me, you take a clove of fresh pinky garlic that your neighbor brought you from Vermont (Thank you Elvira!) and smash it to smithereens. Then you saute it in a tablespoon of bacon fat (oh yes, bacon fat) You also fry a couple of slices of french bread in that fat. And then you crack a few eggs over the bacon fat and garlic combo and you pile it all up and eat it. Very nice. Almost nice enough to make up for the fact that Will didn't make it home till almost 11.

Now by then I was too mad at the whole situation to make something that would inevitably give me heartburn if I ate it that late (I know, what a old grouch, right? Heartburn? But it's sadly true) But I cooked it up for Will anyway. Pork Chops marinated in milk, balsamic vinegar and mustard, sauteed apples and a whisky, stock gravy. It looked pretty good, but who know. At that point Will would have told me dinner was great if I'd served him dirt. It was 11 at night.

I did, however, indulge in a slice of the cake and a glass of the wine that my favorite wine store guys had helped me pick out. I never did get around to making myself a birthday cake since the day fell on the second most stressful of the whole move/remodel drama and we ended up sprawled out on the couch eating pizza and Ben and Jerry's out of the tub. So I was way ready for some cakey goodness.

The original recipe was for gateau chocolat framboise from my favorite French foodie. But I didn't have raspberries, and I also didn't want to make a big old cake for just Will and I. What I did have is about a quarter of a jar of good Irish marmalade with Irish Whiskey mixed in for kicks. A little intense on toast in the morning, but great in savory dishes and, I hoped, in a chocolate cake. I was hoping for a Jaffa Cake-esque flavor. Jaffa Cakes being Will's all time favorite cookie (see what a nice wife I am?) I also have this cook little half sized cake pan that I picked up at Michael's ages ago for about $5 that makes the perfect sized cake for a family of four. So with a little finagling and some recipe reducing I crossed my fingers and mixed up this cake.

Now there is something truly decedent about making a cake that calls for a whole stick of butter, for solid ounces of chocolate and only 1/6 of a cup of flour. The batter alone looks divine. And in the end the cake was too. No, truly. I think it's probably the best thing I've ever made other than the devil chocolate and salted carmel tart. It might even be just as good. It might even be better. I'd have to do a side by side taste test to determine a winner. And just having that much chocolate in my kitchen might cause me to drop dead from happiness, so I probably shouldn't risk it.

If you don't have a half sized cake pan you could double the recipe and cook it in a regular old pan, or in a 9 inch spring form, but maybe reduce the time by five minutes. This is one of those things you don't want to over cook.

Jaffa Cake Cake

1 stick of butter
4 ounces of chocolate (I used 2 unsweetened cubes and 2 semi sweet)
1/2 cup of sugar
2 large eggs or 3 small
1/4 cup of good quality marmalade
1/6 cup of flour
1/2 tsp kosher salt

Melt the butter and chocolate in the double boiler. When it's smooth pour it into a medium mixing bowl and fold in the sugar. Let the mix cool for a few minutes before gently whisking in the eggs one at a time until incorporated

Sift in the flour and salt and stir gently until combined.

Grease and flour a 5 inch cake pan and pour the batter in, knocking the sides gently to remove bubbles. Cook at 350 for 28 minutes, remove from oven and let it cool for an hour in the pan before carefully removing it. I have this handy dandy tool for popping cakes out. I think it's actually an artists tool for blending oil paints. It looks like a tiny little brick layers trowel and it's fantastic for loosening the sides and bottoms of cakes. But I think an offset spatula or even just a knife would do the trick.

I poured a thin chocolate ganache over the top and let it rest for the rest of the day (and into the night, sigh) It turns out fudgy and gooey but still set to firmness, and really really delicious. And it goes well with a sparkling red wine, at least in my very inexpert opinion.

Definitely a cake worth making.