By SHANNON WATKINS
I’m sure that you’re all aware that a very special holiday is coming up in two days, one that is very dear to all our hearts, no pun intended. I’m speaking, of course, about February 14, which has been known since medieval times as Discount Chocolate Eve.
Apparently Saint Valentine used to go around once a year passing out coupons for the really good February 15 half-priced chocolate sales, until the Romans threw him in prison for this and eventually forced him to marry a Kardashian. I think he died at this point, or possibly just wished he was dead. I haven’t really studied history in a while.
For those of you who are paired up, I understand that it has another meaning, something to do with flowers and cards and fancy meals out and possibly jewelry. This sounds like a lot of hard work to me, though I’m sure it must be rewarding on some level. But what of those who aren’t spoken for?
I’m frankly of the opinion that if you’re single, sitting around waiting for someone to be smitten by your charms (and your own personal charms are considerable, as we both know) and whisk you off on a romantic date is the most boring thing in the world. My recommendation is to either dress up like Cupid (say, wings and a toy bow; but don’t try going out in a diaper unless you want to get arrested and/or die of hypothermia) and pass out valentines to random strangers on the street. Or, put on funeral gear, including black veils, with several of your friends and go out to packed restaurants and bars. (Idea courtesy of website XOJane’s Alison Freer.) Either way, you’ll probably entertain yourself while amusing and horrifying everyone in your path, which is far more satisfying than a candlelight dinner with almost anyone, if you ask me.
But you, or your mourning posse, or, if you’re going a more conventional route, your date, will eventually need fortifying. I suggest winding up your evening, whatever path you take to get there, with a nice slice of dark, rich coffee-chocolate cake and maybe a movie. (Since this week’s recipe comes courtesy of Vincent Price’s cookbook, “A Treasury of Great Recipes,” I’ll recommend watching “The Abominable Dr. Phibes,” the most gruesomely, campily romantic horror movie I can think of.)
Dark Mocha Cake
5 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped small
1 c. milk
1 c. sugar
3 eggs, separated
½ c. butter, softened
1 c. brown sugar
2 c. cake flour (about)
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
¼ c. water
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. butter, softened
¼ tsp. salt
2 Tbsps. instant coffee dissolved in 4 Tbsps. boiling water
2 ½ c. unsifted confectioner’s sugar
1 tsp. Rum, Kahlua or vanilla
Preheat oven to 375F and butter two 8”-9” round cake pans. Melt the chocolate and ½ cup milk together over low heat, stirring constantly. Add 1 cup sugar and 1 egg yolk, stirring constantly, until mixture forms a smooth custard. Set aside to cool.
Cream ½ cup butter (1 stick) until fluffy; add 1 cup brown sugar and cream together; mix in 2 egg yolks, one a time.
Pour water into milk and add vanilla. Sift cake flour and measure out 2 cups (put extra back in box); sift again with salt and baking soda. Add flour into butter mixture in thirds, alternating with milk combination, until all combined into one smooth batter.
Beat egg whites until stiff but not dry. Fold into batter. Divide batter between cake pans and bake for 25-30 minutes. Turn out of pans onto racks to cool.
While cakes are cooling, cream butter and beat in coffee mixture and salt along with half of powdered sugar. Combine thoroughly, add rest of powdered sugar, and beat for 2 minutes. Add rum, Kahlua or vanilla and beat another 2 minutes. Assemble cake with half of frosting between layers and half on top. (To frost the sides as well, you may want to double the recipe.)
Enjoy it indulgently, whether you end up making it for yourself, your friends, or your beloved. Don’t overdo it, though, or the resulting food coma will cause you to oversleep on Saturday and miss all the good leftover chocolate sales. And remember to put on something besides that diaper before you leave the house.