Saturday, February 20, 2010

Sweet Birthday Wishes: Fudge Cake


Murphy is friends with pretty much everyone he meets, but there are a few people who are very special to him. One is my dad. He doesn’t get to see my dad very often, but he recognizes him immediately and can hardly stand up because he wags his whole back end so hard when he sees him. He knows that when my dad is around it means wrestling matches in the backyard and lots of treats. What he doesn’t realize is that he gets treats because my dad is trying to train him to do something, such as come when he’s called (a skill Murphy has yet to master). 

Another is my friend Justin. I think Murphy loves him so much because Justin always comes over impeccably dressed and Murphy can’t resist jumping on him (maybe that’s why Justin moved to New Jersey…thanks a lot Murphy). And then there is our neighbor Wayne.

Every time Wayne goes into his backyard, Murphy rushes to the fence barking “hello.” Wayne returns Murphy’s greeting and the two continue to have an entire conversation. Many times during the summer, I’ll walk by a window and hear Wayne’s voice asking Murphy how his day has been, if he’s enjoying the nice weather, and agreeing that yes, he too thinks the squirrels are quite annoying. I love these conversations. I never interrupt; I let the two of them enjoy their time together.

Once, I saw Murphy running in circles in the backyard with something in his mouth. It was obviously a coveted prize and he was desperately searching for a special place to sit down and consume it. I was a little worried about what he might have found, but as I went out to intercept him, Wayne called to over the fence to explain that he got a doggy bag at dinner and brought his leftover steak home for Murphy. Murphy just looked at us with drool hanging from his lips as if he was saying, “Thank you, thank you, thank you!”

Every year for Wayne’s birthday, we return the favor. Last year we settled for a store-bought cake to give him on his special day, but this year I was excited to choose a recipe from the box. Today is Wayne’s 86th birthday and for this momentous occasion, I knew he needed something extra sweet. Wayne LOVES chocolate and I had just the thing to satisfy his cravings: Fudge Cake.

I made a few slight adjustments to the recipe. Instead of 1 cup of chopped nuts, I used chocolate chips. I know several people with nut allergies, so I usually err on the side of caution and don’t add them. Plus, it gave me the chance to add more of Wayne’s favorite ingredient. And as my friend Mike told me last weekend, if you want to ruin chocolate, just add nuts (I’m not a fan of nuts so I tend to agree with him on this). I also used a bundt pan instead of a layer or loaf pan. (The cooking time was 45 minutes for the bundt pan.) And I chose to make a chocolate glaze for the cake. I wouldn’t use frosting, I think it would be chocolate overload (and not in a good way). The glaze complimented the cake very well. The one I chose was from the Joy of Cooking. Here’s the recipe:

Chocolate Glaze (Reduced Fat)
Joy of Cooking - 1997 edition, page 1004

Combine in a medium saucepan:
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa

Gradually add:
2/3 cup low-fat evaporated milk

Cook, stirring constantly until the mixture comes to a boil. Boil gently, stirring for about 2 ½ minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in:

2 ounces bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate (finely chopped)
½ teaspoon vanilla

Stir until chocolate is completely melted. Let cool until thickened. Keep refrigerated for up to 1 week or freeze for up to 6 months.  Warm gently before using. 

 We boxed up the cake, poured the extra glaze in a jar, put Murphy on his leash and went next door to deliver the birthday surprise. Wayne was very excited about his Fudge Cake and Murphy was happy to see Wayne. They haven’t seen each other in months because of the snow, but as soon as the door opened, Murphy knew one of his best friends was behind it. I’m really not sure which of them was happier at that moment.

As we left, I reminded Wayne that he promised to celebrate birthdays until he was 105 and that every year we promised to provide the cake. “115,” he said. “I’ve decided to live until I’m 115.”

“That’s great!” I replied, “Because I have a LOT of cake recipes in the box that I need to make and I’d love to make them for you.” 

Happy Birthday Wayne!

1 comment:

  1. Can you make this cake when you come to visit in March?!?! It looks amazing and sounds delicious!