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This week’s obsession: Hot Chocolate Cake

My immediate family and I used to take very long car trips to visit our other family members when I was younger. And when you’re in the car with the same 3 people for 10 hours on end, you can only have so much conversation and can only listen to the same CDs so many times, which means we often found ourselves scanning the radio stations for something even remotely worth listening to. (Country music has always been and will always be forbidden, just FYI. We were to sit in silence if that was the only thing available. #HouseRules)

I will never forget being in the car one such time while we were listening to an available radio station in the middle of nowhere when the DJ came on the air. She had a very smooth yet edgy voice and she lulled us into silence as she was speaking, so we were all paying rapt attention when she asked, “Do you have those coworkers where sometimes all you want to do is show them how you feel about them by serving them a steaming hot cup of SHUT-THE-HELL-UP?!?!” Oh man, we did not think her question was heading in that direction!! I think we almost drove off the road because we were laughing so hard!

Hot chocolate mug cake

It should be no surprise that this became a common phrase with us after that. My family has always shown deep affection by engaging in witty banter, good natured jesting, and all out sarcasm towards each other (as my late grandfather used to say as he would wrap me up into a giant bear hug after playfully teasing me, “Can you imagine what I’d say if I didn’t love you?!” ::sigh:: We are a complicated family.), but sometimes when you can’t come up with a quick retort it is quite sufficient to respond with, “How about I pour you a nice steaming hot cup?!” and your point will absolutely get across!

Two days before Christmas, my mom said that she was concerned that we didn’t have enough dessert options for Christmas day. I told her that she was in luck because I knew a guy... well, gal... Myself. So we started brainstorming about what I should make, what the flavors should be for this last minute dessert, and how to design it. (I needed something that wasn’t too complicated since I didn’t bring any cake decorating tools with me on this trip.)

We agreed that chocolate was in order because it's always in order, so we began building on that. We wanted something that plays into the Christmas/winter season and decided that hot chocolate is the perfect treat for this time of year, and that a chocolate cake with hot chocolate frosting was absolutely the way to go. And what better way to serve it than as a Christmas mug! We decided on a decorating the outside of the "mug" snowflake pattern and a Christmas tree pattern, and I set off!

I did my best without all of my tools and took extra care to make the Christmas details come out as pristine as possible. I didn't have my icing smoothers, nor did I have a cake board to decorate it on which actually made the decorating process way more complicated than I realized it would. I ended up decorating the cake on a paper plate which made me super nervous every time I transported the cake in or out of the refrigerator because the plate buckled and I feared I was going to drop it! To make up for the overall lack of polish on my frosting smoothness, I placed every single decorative pearl by hand (this part took forever!!) to make sure it looked as neat as possible.

I don't know if you noticed, but I was switched to a new brace this past week and was granted permission to start using my thumb again. Woohoo!! #ThumbsUp I still couldn't pipe with my left hand because of the brace and it was pretty weird piping the Christmas trees with my right hand, too, but I feel like they came out alright. And once all the red sprinkle "ornaments" went on the tree, it looked exactly right! Of course, no cup of hot chocolate is complete without marshmallows so I made sure to put plenty on top along with a swirl of whipped cream (really it was just buttercream, but hey - it's fun to pretend!) to round it all out.

My sister pointed out that the cake looked a lot like the Christmas mugs we use for coffee every year, so of course I had to take a photo with it as well.

I tell you all of this to show all the opportunities I had to give up but instead chose to keep going. Each time I realized that I didn't have the tools or supplies I needed or had to figure out a way to do something without my dominant hand, I made a choice to not give up. To find a way and keep going. And look at those smiling faces! I don't think they cared one bit that this cake wasn't smoothed out with state of the art icing scrapers or that I my piping wasn't quite right since I did it with my opposite hand. This is my last cake of 2019 and although it's not perfect, I want the lessons I learned along the way to carry me into 2020, and I hope they stick with you, too. It's always possible to achieve your goals if you're willing to look for a way around your obstacles. #YearEndWordsOfWisdom

P.S. You can imagine that the steaming hot cup joke resurfaced quite a bit while I was making this cup of hot chocolate cake. Mostly because there is no mercy and nothing is off limits with our krewe. While I was trying to make this cake, I got lots of “I bet the cake would be straighter if you had TWO hands!” or "my left hand works just fine, wanna borrow it?!" and other similarly themed jabs. So instead of offering to pour them a steaming hot cup, I made them a steaming hot cup. #ChristmasWin

Happy eating, y'all!

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