Yesterday, I wanted to send a Valentine love-text to Ben, but not of the roses are red variety. I was in the mood for something a little more Ben, like skulls and cross-bones, but with love. So, I went to where people more creative than I hang out: etsy. I, of course, found just the thing for my text material: I love you like zombies love brains. To which he replied: I love you like Mila (our dog) loves eating tp from the bathroom garbage. Now if that don’t say love with a capital L, truly what does?
Anyway, I am getting side-tracked, from my original purpose for telling this tale: while I was perusing etsy-greeting-card-wit I stumbled across a Father’s Day card with a list of things a Dad would never say. On said list were: “Go ahead, take my car and here is $60 bucks for gas. Can I get you a six-pack? You take the remote. There is no curfew in this house. And, I love your tatoo.”
The funny thing about this list, for me, was my Dad would say those things. He has said those things… well, he has never actually said a single word about my tattoo, not one, but he tolerates it stoically. He also says things like:
You drank a little too much? Where are you, I am on my way.
Yes. I will pick you and your broken car up, get it fixed while you are at a dance competition and then make sure you are back on the road to the party that is May long weekend in a timely fashion.
I think taking a year off after high school to travel is a brilliant idea.
I would be happy to help you build a mailbox out of cedar as a Christmas present for Ben (from you).
I will come by, pick up Mila and all her stuff and drive her back to my place where we will baby-sit so you can galivant the globe freely. (Ok, no he would never say galivant but he really has done this).
You don’t like the color of your den? I will come over and help you paint it.
I donated that money to Hope International.
Your sister’s grass is getting long. I am going to swing by and cut it.
You’d like a peak at your bank statement from 1985? Not a problem, I have it filed right here under: “Beth – First Bank Account CIBC 1985.” (Ok, I have never actually asked this question, but I know this would be the answer and it really would be there – probably in the third drawer, filed chronologically and then alphabetically for easy access).
Your mom and I are off to Mexico to build a house with Habitat.
Keeping the house at 24 degrees C is perfectly reasonable, any lower and you might have to put on a sweater.
That is my Dad: sharing his time, donating his money, spoiling his girls, organizing his papers, supporting his family, baby-sitting his grand-pup, keeping his promises and setting his thermostat at a temperature appreciated by women everywhere.
So, when he asked for a simple chocolate cake for his birthday, it really was the very least I could do to step it up for him and all his many good deeds with:
Chocolate & Almond Cake
2 oz dark chocolate
1/2 cup (1 stick butter) – room temperature
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup cocoa
2 eggs – room temperature
1 3/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
good pinch of salt
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup milk
Make the cake: Preheat the oven to 325F. Prepare two 8″ round pans: butter and flour the sides. Cut a piece of parchment to fit in the bottom and also butter and flour the paper, set aside. Over a water bath, melt the chocolate and set aside. In a mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the cocoa and mix until combined. Continue beating and add the eggs, one at a time. Scrape the sides whenever needed. Add the slightly cooled chocolate, ensure it is not too hot or it will melt the butter. In a separate bowl combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Combine the milk and water and heat until hot (about 40 seconds in the microwave). Mix the flour into the chocolate mixture until almost combined on low-speed. Continue mixing and add the water/milk and the almond extract to the bowl. Scrape the bowl and continue to mix on low-speed until relatively smooth. Divide the batter into the two cake pans and bake for 30-40 minutes, until a tester comes out clean. Set aside to cool in the pans.
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
3 egg whites
1/3 cup cocoa powder, sifted
9 Tbsp unsalted butter – room temperature
Place the sugar and the water in a saucepan, heat gently to dissolve sugar. Once dissolved, increase heat to high and boil until 239F on a candy thermometer. Whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks and continue whisking as you pour the sugar syrup in a thin – continuous stream into the whites. Continue whisking as you add the cocoa and then add the butter, 1 Tbsp at a time. Once all the butter incorporated, stop whisking so you do not lose volume. Use as soon as possible to fill cake.
14 Tbsp unsalted butter – room temperature
1 2/3 cup confectioners sugar
1/2 tsp almond extract
toasted sliced almonds
Beat the butter until pale and creamy, add the sugar and beat until smooth then add the almond extract. Use the almonds to decorate.
3 oz dark chocolate – chopped
3 oz heavy cream
Heat the cream until just before it boils. Pour over the chocolate and allow to stand for 1 minute. Then whisk together until smooth. Allow to cool slightly and pour over cake.
To assemble: Once the cakes are completely cool, use a serrated knife to cut each one in half horizontally so you have 4 layers to work with. Place one layer on a cake plate and top with 1/3 of the chocolate buttercream, repeat until you have all 4 layers stacked. Cover the entire cake with the almond buttercream. I pressed toasted almonds into the sides of the cake at this point. Pour the ganache in the centre, using a palette knife allow the ganache only to ooze to the very edge without falling over.