You might have been asking this whole month, where is the cake? And I'll tell you right now, it was hiding along with my confidence. And while my nerves aren't half as bad as last year, there were still plenty of days this month where I'd let them get to me. Luckily for me, I've got a strong support system going on behind the scenes. When I seem like I'm about to crumble, they stand firm and throw up gentle reminders. And after a few minutes, I stabilize and move forward.
The most recent night where this occurred, Andrew kindly reminded me that my "anxiety cries" are not exactly the most attractive thing in the world. This made me laugh, but it also got me thinking about how utterly unattractive I must have been all month. Not necessarily physically so (although I'll admit it, I'm a butt ugly crier), but more in the way of my reactions and my conversations. Those short, curt responses and the self-pitying tears were supposed to be my way of crying out, "LOVE ME" to all my family and friends. Which they do, unconditionally. But can you imagine how difficult it is to do this to someone who continually sulks?
Oh, wait... that was me.
It's so easy to forget the connection between our inner thoughts and our outer selves. If you're having a horrible, awful day, your loved ones can probably see it. In your words and tone. In your face, in the way you carry yourself. So if you're feeling ugly on the inside, I'm just going to say it now - it probably reads ugly on the outside. Even if you don't want to be like that. Even if your dearest friends and family won't say anything about it out loud (I just happen to be the one dating someone who happens to be brutally honest).
So what makes a more beautiful person? I guess it's personal for each one of you. For me, I associate beautiful with genuine joy. With confidence. With spirit and courage. But those are not things that people will give me - I have to find it in myself. How? I'm not sure if there's really a guide for that, but I'm ready to start looking.
"People are like stained glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within."
This chocolate cherry cake was inspired by a Bon Appetit recipe I found last month, one that involved vinegar and baking soda because, science. I was promised with an airy and moist cake, and I got it. To make it extra special, I added some homemade cherry jam after Andrew gifted me a bag of cherries. The jam is not too sweet and plays well with the chocolate flavor. And since the cake itself wasn't too decadent, I frosted the whole thing in a rich, fudgy frosting - although I imagine if you wanted to keep the whole thing light, a chocolate whipped cream frosting would be just as lovely. The end result was a cake (and some cupcakes) that made last month's psychiatry rotation a little more delicious. And now that cherries are starting to pop up, I couldn't think of a better time to share.
Happy weekend, wherever you are!
Chocolate cherry cake
For the cake, adapted from Bon Appetit
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 egg
- 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 cup cocoa powder
- 1 tablespoon espresso powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/4 cup room temperature coffee
- 1 1/4 cups water
- 2 tablespoons white vinegar
For the cherry jam
- 3 cups cherries, pitted
- 2 1/4 cups sugar
- Zest and juice of 1 lemon
For the frosting
- 1 stick unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon espresso powder
- 1/4 cup cocoa powder
- Pinch of salt
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Powdered sugar
- 1-2 tablespoons milk
- Preheat oven to 350 F. Line and grease two 8 inch round cake pans and set aside.
- In a medium bowl, mix the dry ingredients together and set aside.
- In a stand mixer bowl, beat together the butter and sugar for 5-7 minutes on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add in the egg and beat until combined. Slowly add the flour mixture to this mixture and beat until just combined. Add the vanilla, coffee, water, and vinegar and mix until combined.
- Pour the mixture between the two cake pans. You will have extra batter and you can bake cupcakes out of those or just divide the batter into 3 tins instead, the layers will just be a little thinner. Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick placed in the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove from the oven and set on a cooling rack for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, remove the cakes from the pans and let it cool completely on the cooling rack.
- For the jam, combine the cherries, zest, and juice in a nonreactive, large pot. Cook for 20 minutes until the cherries are soft. Then, add the sugar and stir the jam over medium-high heat. Continue to stir often until the jam becomes thick. Once finished, pour in a jar and let it cool completely before you store it in the fridge.
- For the frosting, beat the butter, cocoa powder, espresso powder, and vanilla extract in a stand mixer until combined. Add 1 cup of powdered sugar and beat until the frosting becomes incorporated. Continue to add the powdered sugar in small increments until it reaches the consistency and taste that you like. If you need to thin it out a bit, add the milk.
- Build your cake by leveling the first cake and then piping a border of the chocolate frosting around the edge. Add the cherry jam over the top of the cake and spread it to the edges of your frosting dam. Then, add the second layer of cake on the top. Frost the top and sides of the cake with the rest of the frosting - I made my look "rustic" but you could always go for a naked look or a beautifully piped look, whatever strikes your fancy.