Thursday, January 24, 2013

Sex on a Cake Plate

As promised, I'm going to post before, during and after photos from my and Shana's marathon baking experiment a couple of weeks ago.

To set the scene, about a year ago I pinned this recipe to my cooking board:
About an hour later, Shana repinned it and then there was some discussion about when we would be able to bake said cake. We agreed it would be during my trip up there over Christmas. Fast forward about 8 months and a PCS. Although we are now geographically much closer to Shana, all of the crazy happened over the holidays and we were unable to make the trip. So, I added this task to our to-do list for when she came down a couple of weeks ago. 

Let me also say this: Big Mama does not cook. She grills like a mo'fo' and makes a fairly delicious baked potato. But when women say that they grew up standing at their heels of their mother, learning the recipes of the motherland...well...that wasn't me. There was an alarming amount of Hungry Man dinners consumed in our house. To this day, I can still taste fried chicken, corn, and that spongy chocolate brownie that I begged to eat first. (I checked one day. Hungry Man hasn't veered too much from that well-established combo. They're probably waiting for the kids who grew up on it to feed it to their kids. Sorry HM...I have to break the cycle because my family is genetically inclined to develop diabetes and hypertension in the womb.) Also, I do not bake. I remember making turtles (in the actual shape of turtles - which I thought was just brilliant) with Mom for Christmas one year. And I remember thinking "this is epic. I need to journal. We are baking." So, that gives you a little back-story on what it's like to be in the kitchen with me. (Fortunately, the Army has primed my husband to eat anything that is moving more slowly than he is. So, after almost 7 years of marriage, I've served him food that is overcooked and undercooked, but I haven't killed him yet.)

It was also my stellar idea to live-tweet the entire event (because I haven't been on Twitter for 14 months so why not launch my come-back with a 7-hour baking extravaganza? That makes sense, right?). Here are the photos (and subsequent conversations) from that morning:

Friday night: 
A: Guess WHAT is in the crockpot? 
S: Um...what?
A: A can of condensed milk! I'm making caramel! We're going to make the Girl Scout cake! (some squeals and possibly an eye roll from Neal.)

A couple of hours later...
A: What the...I think the receipt is floating in the water. I can't believe I did that!
S: Er, that's not the receipt. It's the label from the can. I think you're supposed to take that off before you put it in the water. 
A: Oh right. That would make sense. (And then in a rare moment of thinking before acting, I did not reach into a crockpot of water that's been cooking for 5 hours with my bare hands to retrieve it.) 

Sunday morning.....
Neal is shaving his head in the bathroom because that's probably the safest place to be with 2 women and a baby loose in his kitchen. Sometime around the first 5 minutes, I decided this was never going to work with Baby Blue propped in front of PBS. This required action.

Once I was wearing my child, we could really get down to the business of baking.

A: OK I'm going to make the second batter (a major part of why I waited for Shana to undertake this was because the recipe called for 2 batters. I was both baffled and extremely intimidated by this). *I get busy measuring and leveling off with the back of a knife and then dumping said ingredients into a bowl*
S: Did you put the flour in with the sugar?
A: Yep! Sure did! It's ready to go! *I'm SO proud of myself*
S: Well, you sort of need to cream the sugar with the butter. And then you add it in.
A: Is that terribly necessary?
S: It's pretty much the only part that matters.

And here we have the first fatality of the morning: 2 cups of flour and a cup of sugar. In the tre-zash.

Who knew this was such an important step??

S: When you're leveling off the scoop, just use the lip on the baking soda box.
A: What? There's a lip for that? Like built into the box??
S: Yes, see? Here.
A: That's amazing.
S: Also, there's one here, on the baking powder can.
A: I kind of always thought that was just part of the design. Like it was to help keep it fresher or something. *Almost certain Shana died a little inside here*

Once both batters were ready, Shana began layering them in my superfancysiliconbundtpan (aka The Only Good Thing to Come Out of My Engagement to Ex Fiance #3. We won it at a bridal/cooking event at Macy's. When he called off our wedding, I took the ring, the cats, the dress, and the bundt pan....all of which I successfully incorporated into my relationship with Neal.).

Oh and apparently I make the task of flouring a pan waaaaaaaaaaay harder than it needs to be. My OCDness really won't stop until there's flour on every square inch. Shana finally intervened.

A bottle, a nap, and a bath later and we had this:

I love that the oven did all of the work in this step. God bless those people who harnessed fire.

Then it was time to make the frosting. And toast the coconut. Toasted coconut literally smells like drinking a pina colada out of Josh Duhamel's navel (ps I just googled him to make sure I spelled his last name right and he's married to Fergie?? What?? When did that train wreck happen? Where have I been? I promise to watch less American Experience and more Entertainment Tonight. Sheesh.). Anyway, back to Josh's's like that. It's like sipping a pina colada from his navel while the sun sets over your private cabana on stilts in the ocean. Somebody, quick! Bottle that shit!

important side note: burned coconut does not smell like that. It smells like singed cat hair and will embed itself in every cotton fiber of your house so that when the relatives comes for Christmas dinner in 11 months, they are still asking, "what's that smell?" 

The frosting, looking a bit like vomit, was anything but. Sugar, butter, perfectly toasted coconut, an entire can of condensed milk morphed into caramel....we had some leftover and I had to make myself throw it out because I feared I would be using it as a topping for every meal until I was licking the bowl.

*what you do with your leftover frosting is your business. I'm not here to judge.*

The last step was adding the gratuitous chocolate stripes. I say "gratuitous" because they didn't really add to the flavor, but they did help to make it look like one big Caramel Delight (or "Samoa" for all of you post-1988 girl scouts). I also learned from Shana that using a Ziploc baggie with the corner trimmed off to draw out the lines is kind of a pain in the ass...and not really the "ah-ha" genius technique I thought it was (and thus pinned to my "duh" board at least 4 times).

But she's a pro and pulled it off.

Here is our finished product. We began baking around 9 AM and finished up sometime after 12. Three hours in the kitchen is a bit unattainable for me at the moment. But this cake was so slap-your-mama-make-your-mouth-water-and-slap-her-again good that I'm going to save the recipe for a time, later in my life, when 3 hours of uninterrupted baking time is actually possible.

One more note: this cake actually does taste like a Caramel Delight after it's been refrigerated a day and all of the flavors have a chance to mingle. It also goes really well with coffee. And milk. And wine.



  1. Ah, this post made me giggle. That cake looks SO good!

  2. Omg, you make me laugh! Burnt coconut smells that bad? lol And I can't believe you didn't know about leveling on the containers. LOL

    The cake does look divine though!

  3. Oh, my gaw. I know you can't see from where you are but I'm drooling heavily on my keyboard. I don't care how unattractive it looks. I want to eat this cake! I'm also a huge fan of Samoas so anything that resembles one already wins in my book.

    Also I've missed/your writing something fierce. I love looking at pictures of the sweet little one; he's getting so big! Hope you and Shana had a great time together (but then, how could you not, right?!) XOXO

  4. LOL!!! Best adventure in the kitchen ever.
    I want that cake!

  5. I gotta say - I am very impressed! I was following your first 30 minutes of live-tweeting, and after you trashed the flour/sugar, I had my doubts...
    Now I just gotta get you 2 to make one for me, because the only way I would ever spend 3 hours baking is if...yeah, I can't imagine a scenario that would keep me in the kitchen for 3 hours.
    Though you and Shana do make it look fun

  6. Reading that made me feel like I was back in your kitchen. And while I must roll my eyes that you didn't know Josh Duhamel was married to Fergie (for YEARS now, I might add) I'll have to get over it...because I had no idea that Samoas were now called Caramel Delights. I'm assuming this was some kind of PC thing.

  7. Sorry, but I LOL'd at the burnt coconut. I may or may not have burned some in my day. Cake looks good though. I'd eat it!


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