Thursday, November 13, 2008

Dani Day!

I Can't Take Gilly's Picture Down Today

It remains at the top of the blog. Today is also significant to me because this marks one year since my precious niece, and co-conspirator of all things delectable in the kitchen, Dani came into our lives. My sister has always been one of the "Supermoms." She devoted herself, body and soul, liver and spleen, mind and medulla oblongata to being the best mom she could be. Thing was, her only child, my nephew, did what kids do. He grew up. He moved away.

She was at loose ends to say the least. Noting the gap in her life she applied for, and received certification from the Child Protective Services to become a foster mom with the eye toward adoption. She had kept a few kids for short periods of family crisis time, they would stay and benefit from actual mothering and having somebody care about them. Then, they would leave, either for a permanent placement, or go back to their home when things had settled down.

Then, one year ago today, she was called at work. They told her that they had a "special case." A little girl had been given a surprise visit by a social worker. The adoptive process was about to come through for her previous placement, and the case worker was in the neighborhood. He said "Something told me to do a drive by and look in." He's never told us what he saw, he snatched that little girl the fuck out of there tout de suite. They were on their way to my sister's house. She told her supervisor (she's a nurse in the prison system) that she was clocking out. They were outside in the social worker's car, waiting, when she drove up.

This little girl. With nothing but the clothes (and shabby clothes at that) on her back. Came into our lives that day. About fifteen minutes after the social worker had left, Dani plopped herself down on the couch next to my sister and plain as day said:

I'm 'doptable you know.

You're damned right we know my darling!

We're going out to dinner tonight to celebrate this day. We're going to Sizzler on account of Dani has a certificate for a free dinner there that she wants to use. She got it for being voted "Student of the Month" by her classmates at her school.

Student of the Month! She's the Girl of the Year! Instead of her usual thing of coming to spend the afternoon with me on Thursdays, in honor of the special day, her brother has taken her to the arcade. Games galore. I've been in the kitchen, making her special request cake.


1 cup boiling water
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa (NOT Dutch Process this time, use the Hershey's)
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup softened unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar (I use C&H Baker's sugar)
4 large eggs
2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350°, grease and flour two cake pans, whisk the cup of boiling water into the cocoa until smooth and glossy. Whisk in the vanilla and milk. Set aside.

Cream the butter and sugars together until uniform consistency, light and fluffy. Add in the eggs, one at a time, beating well until very smooth. Scrape down the sides of the mixer bowl often.

Sift the flour, soda, and salt together, then alternate adding the dry with the cocoa mixture into to it. Scrape down the sides and the mixer blade. When all is in, beat on highest setting for five minutes. Divide into the cake pans and cook at 350° for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake layer comes out clean.

Cool on a rack in the pan for ten minutes. Remove from the pan and rack cool until totally cooled. Frost with:


1 pound softened cream cheese
1 cup softened unsalted butter
4 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 pound melted bittersweet chocolate

If you're saying to yourself, "Gee, that looks just like the white chocolate frosting we put on the Red Velvet Cake." Then give yourself a brownie point for being an observant sort.

The only difference in this frosting and the last one is that we're using bittersweet chocolate instead of white chocolate. The result is a stiff, sturdy frosting, bursting with wonderful chocolate flavor.

Mix the butter and cream cheese together until smooth and fluffy. Add in the powdered sugar a cup at a time, mixing very well, last, add in the vanilla.

Chunk up the bittersweet chocolate (I used Trader Joe's Pound Plus 73% cocoa mass chocolate, it's the same stuff I use for my truffles) and nuke it in the microwave for 30 second intervals, stirring well between each zap. When the chocolate is thoroughly melted add it into the stuff in the mixer, and whip until totally mixed. Refrigerate to stiffen. This takes about the same amount of time as it takes for the cake to cool. That's pretty much perfect don't you think?

Frost the cake, proudly bring it to the guest of honor. Accept your accolades with either real or feigned humility. You've earned it.

Happy Dani Day to all ya'll.


Pics of the finished product. . .(the cookies are some Mexican sugar cookies with the excess frosting between them making chocolate frosting sandwiches. . . part of a good breakfast sez I)

The founder of our feast,
the wonderful, totally cute, wicked smart, apple of my eye. . .

Kilkii Dani'oshonni Ga'age
(Girl Loved by the Ravens)

Cake for Everybody!