Crazy Thankful

The past 48 hours have been crazy, crazy, crazy. And I’ve been thankful for that.

I thought catching up on work was the craziest part. Then I thought attempting to brave the store the day before Thanksgiving was the craziest part. And then I thought the craziest part was when my aunt called me, saying “Oh no, we already have pumpkin pie, can you just pick up bottled water?”

Crazy.

So I moped a little bit yesterday, thinking of all the pumpkin pie ingredients that would go unused. I gazed longingly at my can of Libby’s and dreamed of perfecting the flaky, doughy crust. But then my mom called, and like all good moms, gave me some great advice: “Honey, if you want to bring something, just bring something. If you want to and don’t, well, that’s just crazy.”

Indeed, Mom. Indeed.

Crazy Cocoa Cake

Public enemy #1. Accused of making insanely delicious treats.

Makes up to a 9″ x 13″ cake

I used a pie pan because...well, I like it. And you know you wanted another picture of my stove.

Ingredients

  • 2 c. flour
  • 1 c. sugar, optional*
  • 3/4 c. unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 c. soy milk (or another kind of non-dairy milk, if you want to keep it vegan/parve)
  • 3/8 c. applesauce
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 2 1/4 c. hot water

*I’ve seen some recipes for this type of cake that call for sugar in the “dough” that makes up the cake. I left it out because 1) I like to avoid excess sugar, and 2) I forgot it the very first time I made this cake and didn’t even notice. It was still delicious, but had a bit more of a dark chocolate taste to it. Use your preferences as a guide – just know it can be made with only the 1 cup of sugar!

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350°. Lightly grease the pan of your choice (I used a 10″ pie pan to be festive, but this recipe can make cake up to a 9″ x 13″ pan size)
  2. In a large bowl, mix the flour, 1/4 c. of the cocoa powder, baking powder, salt and sugar (if using the extra one cup). Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the milk, applesauce, and vanilla. Once combined, pour the wet mix into the dry, and mix until a thick dough forms.

    Please ignore the dirty dishes in the sink. It might convince you that I'm actually human.

  4. Spread the dough into your pan of choice. The dough may need some convincing to spread, as it will be thick, but give it time and it’ll be just fine.
  5. In a large bowl, combine the sugar, hot water, and remaining 1/2 c. cocoa powder. Pour over the dough mixture in your pan, making sure to saturate the dough as best as possible.

    Chocolatey. Times a million.

  6. Bake for 40 – 50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow cake to cool in the pan for at least an hour – the dough will absorb some of the additional cocoa/water/sugar liquid and get extra moist during this time.

I covered mine with caramel and chocolate chips to make it a bit more dressy and, heck, do you always need a reason to add caramel and chocolate chips? I didn’t think so!

So. Good.

It’s such a delicious, rich cake, and one of the best parts is that it’s a relatively healthy dessert, considering there aren’t eggs/dairy milk/butter in it. My family loved it. One of my cousins took a huge bite, looked at me and said “I don’t know whether I should hate you or love you for this, so I’m going to just keep eating it.” You’re welcome, dear cousin. You’re welcome.

It was a wonderful cake, a wonderful day, and no better way to celebrate how much I have to be thankful for. And I am – I’m thankful for life, for love, for family and friends, and for you, dear readers.

Crazy thankful.

Check!

Woke up feeling refreshed, amazed at my continued existence, and the ability to experience this gift of life?

Check.

Fed the cat, brewed some tea, spent some leisurely time reading other blogs?

Check.

Made dessert for my dinner party while folding two day old laundry on a conference call planning a major presentation, kissing BF good morning and goodbye while scraping burnt egg from a pan and realizing that my first dessert attempt sucked terribly and I had to make a new one pronto?

That's a face you want to wake up to every morning.

Oof! And check.

I wanted to try a twist on a pumpkin cake for my dinner tonight, so I attempted to create my own recipe: mini pumpkin cakes with chocolate chips.

They looked great, they tasted great, they smelled great…

…and they would make great rock replacements. I texted BF at work and asked “Does anyone need a paperweight? Or a doorstop? I have 24.”

Needless to say, I was bummed. My morning filled with little “checks” suddenly had a big fat empty space where “make delicious revolutionary dessert” was supposed to be marked off. In hindsight, had I put “make rocks” or “invent industrial strength weight,” I would have checked those off with a flourish.

Normally, I would have hidden this failure entirely. I would have pretended as if perfectly tasting (and weighing) baked goods simply fly out of my kitchen at warp speed on a regular basis. I would have skimmed over this mishap in favor of broadcasting, loud and clear, a new, successful recipe. But today, in honor of embracing the experience of life, all the experiences, including failure, I’m sharing it with you.

I did manage to make a good dessert, and share it with my friends. It was not fancy. It was not whipped up with ease from gourmet items just lying around my kitchen. It was chocolate chip cookies.

I wish I could give you the recipe, but that belongs to Robin Robinson, and can be found in her book 1,000 Vegan Recipes, which I talked about here. What I can give you, however, is the best recipe I’ve found for dealing with those moments of unexpected results, of less than stellar outcomes. Of, quite simply, failure.

Oy to Joy

Ingredients:

  • A sense of humor
  • Forgiveness
  • Acceptance
  • Laughter
  • Bravery
  • Gumption

Directions:

  1. Admit that you failed. Accept that it happened, that it happened before, and will happen again. It’s okay – and all a part of the process!
  2. Forgive yourself. No one is perfect. That’s the beauty of life.
  3. Laugh at yourself when you deserve it. Mix with a generous sense of humor, and the failure can turn into an enjoyable experience (much like, dare I say, this blog post?)
  4. Go forward with bravery. Have the gumption to try again tomorrow. Or, if your dinner party is in a few hours, now!

Behind every mountain of success lies a valley filled with failures. But without those failures, reaching the top of the mountain wouldn’t be as sweet.

The chocolate chip cookies were simple and delicious. On their own, they’re perfect: slightly sweet, chocolatey, and very chewy. But they’re at their best when shared with company. And really, isn’t the point of all good food, the very best part of slaving over a hot oven and millions of mixing bowls, is getting to share it with those you love?

That’s something I’ll check on my list.

With all that being said, I don’t plan on deviating from my cookbooks for awhile 🙂

 

Had an amazing day where I experienced life to the fullest, enjoyed each moment for what it was, and was in awe of all the wonderful things I can be grateful for – friends, food, and love?

Check.

——-

Whew! It’s been a couple o’ serious posts up in here. Let’s try something lighter tomorrow, shall we? Current forecasts indicate that Joy will be making vegan pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving…stay tuned!