Today’s post is a very special one because not only is there a recipe involving chocolate and cake, it is also my husband’s birthday (hence the chocolate cake)
It is quite an important birthday too and without divulging ages and all, I’ll just say it’s one of those milestone birthdays 🙂
I didn’t throw him a party, even though I really wanted to, because he’s just not a party person. After all this is his birthday, not mine, and I had to keep reminding myself of that! I know he prefers time with me and the children so that’s what I planned.
This past weekend, I took the Saturday off from work to spend some time with him. We got up early, staggered somewhat sleepily into the car and went to the Denver Museum of Art to catch the Samurai exhibit that’s visiting. WOW; probably a very inadequate word to describe the experience, but really, I was awestruck. The detail, the beauty, the time and effort it took to make a suit was just impressive. I admire the strength and discipline of those who chose to be Samurai. If the exhibit comes around to where you live, go and see it! You won’t be disappointed.
After the museum, we grabbed some lunch at a local Afghan restaurant; they have the best bread, rice and kebabs. After eating too much and rolling out of the restaurant, we headed home.
Part of my gift to Trace was dinner at a swanky, downtown restaurant and a night at the Renaissance Denver. We dropped the kids off, picked up our overnight bag, and headed downtown to check in and walk around the 16th Street Mall area.
I want to say that everything was beyond our expectations and fabulous and so on, but alas, sadly no. Unfortunately, none of this was under my control. I did what I could, but when you leave special days in the hands of other people, it just doesn’t pan out how you want.
When I made the booking for the hotel, I paid extra for a larger “premium” room and for breakfast. What we got was a room smaller than my bedroom at home. It was totally underwhelming; a very bland, sterile room. Not what I expected for a 5 star hotel. We made do and tried not to be too disappointed.
I had made reservations at Milk and Honey, a restaurant bar not too far from the hotel, for 7.15. We had some time to kill and feeling a bit sluggish and sleepy after that big lunch, we went hunting for coffee. Avoiding the 15 Starbucks, we came across another chain coffee place and decided just to grab something there. Ordered two cappuccinos and headed out to walk the mall area. I just about spit out my coffee on the pavement. It was awful, bitter and over extracted. First garbage bin I saw received that full cup of coffee. Such disappointment.
We made our way back to the hotel to relax and get ready for dinner. The restaurant was a 10 minute walk with the weather cooperating. This was our first time at Milk and Honey and it was a nice, darkly lit, sophisticated restaurant. We waited a few minutes and then were taken to our “reserved” table….next to another couple already eating. Really?!! Of all the tables available in the restaurant, we had to sit next to another couple and listen to their conversation??!!
Not only that, we could only sit across from each other because that’s how the table was set and almost touching elbows with the next couple. I don’t understand this with restaurants these days. WHY?? Why put two couples next to each other when there are other tables around??
Since we were sore about our hotel room, my husband got up and told the hostess that we wanted a different table. He told her that he wanted to sit next to his wife and talk to her. She was gracious enough to move us to a nice booth but not without an air of inconvenience.
Our server was a nice fellow but the food was mediocre. I ordered roasted chicken with English pea purée and English peas and courgettes; chicken was over cooked and dry and the peas could have been cooked a bit more to soften instead of the hard pellets they ended up being. The portion was quite big though for a fancy restaurant. Trace got the salmon with a tomato vinaigrette and some small diced potatoes. It was ok. For dessert we shared a salted caramel pot de creme which was incredibly rich but really good.
All in all, I don’t think I’ll race downtown to eat there again. We have really nice places closer to us and in Boulder so I think we’ll be happy patronising those places.
So our mediocre weekend ended with a truly mediocre breakfast at the hotel. For some reason, they couldn’t get the orders right. Mine came out all wrong, and all I ordered was an egg white omelette that was on their menu! No special request or anything, just straight off the menu and they had to take it back twice because it was incorrect. We quickly checked out and decided never to stay there again.
Trace said he enjoyed himself because it was the company that mattered. And I know that’s the important part. I enjoyed my time with him, but I just wanted a nice experience for him so he could have fond memories of a great milestone birthday.
When it comes to my family, I’m a little private about them. I don’t post photos of my daughters publicly and very rarely of my son. I’m quiet on the Facebook front too, I don’t gush about my accomplishments or my children’s. In this world of over sharing and this need for validation, I feel that some things should be kept within us. My family is one. I will share my work with you here because it’s something we have in common. I work with food, you are all reading this because you are either food bloggers yourself or you’re a food enthusiast looking for a recipe. I will share food memories, my childhood memories and food experiences here but really only if they involve me. I prefer to keep my family out of the public eye as much as possible. Funny I say this but mine and every other kid these days are more publicly present than me!
I do, however, want to take a minute today to sing the praises of my husband, after all it is his birthday. I’m not saying he’s the only nice guy out there, I know there are many, but I’m telling you about my man, a man I don’t think I can live without.
He is the love of my life, a man I deeply respect and admire and one of the most intelligent men I know. He is an incredible father and an amazing husband. The past 20 years have been a fairy tale with him. Of course, it hasn’t been all glass slippers and fancy balls, we’ve sure had our pumpkins along the way, but we’ve come out stronger each time.
Of those 20 years, 16 of them have been with me struggling with Rheumatoid Arthritis. No one signs up to take care of a sick person but who knows the future? These are trials and tests for ourselves and our relationships.
Without him, I would’ve broken a long time ago.
He doesn’t let me get down and hasn’t for the last 16 years. I have counted on him every day and he has taken care of me without complaint or a harsh word.
He’s my arms when mine are too weak, he carries me when I can’t walk, he’s my hands when mine are so swollen that I can’t finish cooking dinner, he’s my personal joker when I can’t find a smile and he’s got enough love for the two of us when I’m feeling particularly broken. He has looked after the babies, cooked dinner, still cleans the bathroom because he knows I don’t have the ability to bend and scrub. He does the laundry so I don’t have to carry heavy loads up and down the stairs, he loads and unloads the dishes because I cook and he feels that’s all I need to do and he makes me tea after.
He wakes up early to make me coffee because he knows that mornings are hard for me because of joint stiffness and he takes all the kids to school/work too so I can have a few extra minutes in bed.
When I go to work, he makes sure that my bottle of water is filled and waiting in the car. He holds my hand when we’re driving and buys me flowers when I’m bed ridden.
Without him, I would’ve broken a long time ago.
He is a devoted father; the children adore their daddy. He is loved by my immediate and extended family. Having no siblings himself and not a huge extended family, mine has claimed him as one of theirs (much to his delight and dismay…you guys haven’t met my extended family)
He is a man of few words but he makes me laugh every single day. We are so different in many ways but more alike than we realise. He is a home body; preferring time with me and his children to hanging out with anyone else. I think I love that about him more than anything else. His priorities are in the right place.
This beloved husband of mine has a serious sweet tooth. He doesn’t say no to dessert and it’s a battle some times to keep sugar away from him. But today is a special day and I asked him what he wanted for his birthday dessert. After not being able to hone down on one, I asked him what he used to have as a child. He mentioned a cake his mom would make for him; a rich, sweet chocolate cake with a moist, syrupy inside. I found the recipe to the glaze in his mom’s notebook he gave to me many years ago. She used a Devil’s Cake (maybe a mix) so I’ve made one from scratch and soaked it with the glaze she used. Of course, I made a few changes; just cut back some sugar and butter (the original numbers were horrendous). It’s still sweet and rich enough, and the cake is incredibly moist.
Hope it brings back sweet memories of birthdays with his mom.
Serves: 8 servings
- 1 ⅔ cups/175gall purple/plain flour
- ⅔ cups/50g cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1⅓ cups/300g sugar
- 2 eggs
- 4 oz/115g butter
- 1 cup/250ml hot coffee/warm water
- Butter Glaze
- 4oz/115g butter
- 11/4 cups/250g sugar
- ½ cup/125 ml heavy cream
- ½ cup/125 ml water
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 8" 20 cm) round cake tins, greased and bottom lined with parchment paper
- Preheat the oven to 350F/180C
- Have all your ingredients at room temperature.
- Sieve together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
- Beat the butter until light and creamy and then add the sugar.
- Beat until the sugar is incorporated and then add the eggs, one at a time.
- Beat well after each addition.
- Add the flour-cocoa mixture alternately with the warm water or coffee if using.
- Scrape down the bowl to ensure even mixing.
- Divide equally between the two prepared pans.
- Place in the oven.
- Bake for about 30-35 minutes until the top is set and springs back when touched and toothpick comes out clean.
- Place on wire racks to cool.
- Keep the cakes in their tins.
- Butter Glaze
- In a small saucepan, melt the butter.
- Add the sugar, cream and water.
- Bring up to a boil.
- Make sure the sugar has all dissolved.
- Add the vanilla.
- Stir to make sure the mixture is homogenous.
- Once the cakes have cooled, poke a few holes with a skewer.
- Pour the hot glaze over the top of each cake, half of the glaze on each.
- Allow to soak in.
- Refrigerate the cakes before decorating.
- To decorate, you can use strawberries like I have or fill with some simple whipped cream or even butter cream if you have some lying around.
- I filled mine with some chopped strawberries macerated with two tablespoons of the butter glaze or some sugar.
- The cake is sweet enough by itself and it can be made in a single layer rectangular tin (9x13)
Reduce sugar by 2 tablespoons
Decrease baking soda to ½ teaspoon
Add an extra egg (3 total)
Anyway, I wanted you to know about the man behind Coffee and Crumpets. He is chief taste tester, dishwasher, the sponsor and the main finance guy. This couldn’t exist without his financial support but especially his undying support and unconditional love for everything I do.
Please join me in wishing my husband, Trace, a very Happy Birthday.