When I saw the boy with the Odd Hair sitting by himself in the dining hall the first day of freshman year, I had no idea that one day he would become The Beloved. Maybe he already was The Beloved and I couldn’t recognize it. But, as soon as my roommate and I sat down with him to eat and we began to talk, I immediately developed strong feelings for him.
Truly, I was not a fan at all.
We went to a very small school, so we had many classes together. And whenever he opened his mouth to speak in class: loathing. He thought he knew everything. And he sort of did. Very book smart and arrogant about it. I wanted to punch him in the neck.
Slowly, over a couple of years, we became friends. I’m not even really sure how it happened. And then one day towards the end of junior year, I looked at him and thought to myself, “Damn, he’s pretty.” Shallow? Absolutely. But there you have it.
Once I noticed him in that way I couldn’t un-notice him. I would moon around him—very Coolly, understand—waiting for him to make a move. I flirted Outrageously. Shamelessly. And nothing.
My friends almost staged an intervention.
Finally, unable to take it anymore, I marched down the hall to find him, and I dragged him to my room.
He seemed a bit bewildered but willing, and when we got to my place, I shut the door. I was so very nervous. What if he didn’t like me back? Was he just too much work? I mean, obviously the boy was not taking the hints. Maybe it was me. Maybe he was On Purpose being dense because he didn’t like me back.
I swallowed hard and turned him to face me. I held his shoulders and looked into his eyes.
I couldn’t breathe very deeply. My heart was in the way. But I took as deep a breath as I could.
“I just want to let you know that I am very, very attracted to you, and I’m wondering what you’re going to do about it…”
Heart in throat.
And then he was kissing me and there were delicious butterfly flutters in my tummy.
And that is the story.
That was almost thirty years ago, and while we were not always together across those years, we found each other again eighteen years ago.
Not every couple gets a second chance. I am grateful that we did.
He is my balance.
I am impetuous. He is thoughtful.
I am led by emotions. He, by his intellect.
I can be a bit…scattered. He is focused.
It’s not always easy.
But it is always worth it.
I truly do not know what I would do without him.
I asked him what kind of cake I could make him for his birthday.
What I ended up making is at first glance a simple chocolate pound cake with a vanilla glaze. But it really is more than that. It is full of subtle layers of flavor that build on each other.
Cream cheese adds a bit of a tang. Coffee supports chocolate. Caramel brings additional depth. And a hint of spice brings added dimension.
And every day, it gets better. Fudgier.
I hope you will give it a try and that you enjoy it as much as we have.
- 4 oz granulated sugar
- 2 oz water
- 4 oz heavy cream
- 2 oz excellent quality Dutch process cocoa powder
- 8 oz strong coffee
- 8 oz unsalted butter at cool room temperature
- 4 oz cream cheese at cool room temperature
- 1 gently rounded teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 Tablespoon Baker's Brew Coffee Spice
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 8 oz granulated sugar
- 8 oz brown sugar (dark or light)
- 5 large eggs , beaten
- 11 oz cake flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- .75 oz (1 1/2 Tablespoons) butter, melted
- 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar , sifted
- heavy pinch of salt
- about 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
- enough milk to make a very thick , pourable glaze
Preheat your oven to 350F. Set an oven rack to one-below-the-center.
Spray and flour a 12-cup Bundt pan (or a 10 cup swirly pan plus a small cake pan to hold the extra batter). Set aside.
In a heavy bottomed sauce pan, bring the 4oz of sugar and the water to a boil.
Cover the pan and let boil for 2 minutes to wash any sugar crystals off the sides of the pan.
Uncover and cook without stirring until the sugar starts to get some color. Swirl the pan gently to keep the color even.
Once the caramel is a deep amber color, remove the pan from the heat and carefully stir in the cream. Stir until smooth. Let cool to just warm.
Whisk the cocoa powder and vanilla into the coffee.
Whisk the coffee mixture together with the caramel mixture. Set aside.
Sift together the cake flour, baking powder and baking soda.
Cream the butter and the cream cheese together until smooth.
Add the 8oz each of granulated sugar and brown sugar along with the salt and Baker's Brew.
Cream until very light and fluffy, scraping the bowl as necessary. This will take about 10 minutes.
Very slowly drizzle in the beaten eggs just a bit at a time until they are all incorporated. Scrape the bowl as necessary. This should take about 5-7 minutes.
Alternately add the flour and the coffee-caramel mixture like this:
half the flour
half the liquid
half of the rest of the flour
the rest of the liquid
the rest of the flour
Allow maybe 5-10 seconds of mixing on low speed between each addition. Don't worry if one addition isn't completely incorporated before adding the next. Scrape bowl as necessary.
Once everything is incorporated, scrape the bowl well, reaching all the way down into the bottom. Fold gently a few time.
Beat on high speed for 3 seconds to make sure everything is well mixed.
Bake for about an hour until well risen and a knife inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
Let the cake cool in the pan for 20 minutes. Turn out onto a rack and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Freeze or refrigerate until just barely warm and apply the glaze.
Place the melted butter, sugar, salt and vanilla in a small-ish bowl. Whisk together, adding just a tiny splash of milk at a time until you have a thick, smooth and glossy glaze.
Pour attractively over the cake.
Thank you for spending some time with me today and allowing me to tell our love story. Have a marvelous day.