Cake and Mortality (Recipe: Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake)

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake White Vignette

Hello All: When I last posted, I was leaving for Long Island to be with my mother who had major surgery at the age of 89.  I’ve visited her on Long Island many times since I left home some forty years ago, but this time was different in many respects. Some things were planned and expected. I would be away from my daughter and husband for a long 8 days. I would help her get her affairs in order before she underwent surgery. I would wait at the hospital with countless others, waiting, waiting to learn the outcome of mysterious procedures being carefully performed on loved ones, in rooms far away,  down the long corridors of this big city hospital.

There was the unexpected, as well.  The billboard of hope I passed on the highway in Connecticut. It read: “We are Sandy Hook. We Choose Love”. I didn’t expect the look of fear on my mother’s face as they wheeled her away from me, didn’t expect to need to compose myself before I went to the waiting room for the long four hours the surgery was expected to last. I didn’t expect to be there when a surgeon told  another family sitting near me that  their loved one had died during a procedure. I didn’t expect to be a partner in their sorrow, didn’t expect to burst into tears shortly afterward when I got my bit of news. My mother was fine, the surgery a success.

Hospitals are curious places. We are only admitted to them when necessary, when illness or accident dictate the need to have the most intimate parts of our bodies repaired and refueled. Human dramas unfold within their rooms and hallways without much space for quiet reflection nor privacy. While it is my mother who went through the most serious part of our experience there, I came away cold and exhausted, ready for anything but human misery.

Home close to a week now, I am reconnecting with my family and friends. After hugging my husband and daughter a thousand times, and calling my son to hear his voice, I couldn’t wait to get back into my kitchen, to the solitude of what is for me a meditation room where rituals of peeling and chopping, simmering and baking bring me great comfort, bring me the joy of knowing that the fruits of my efforts in cooking are life-sustaining. Wilted greens—tossed with balsamic vinegar and oil and topped with roasted sweet potatoes—taste of the earth, make me feel rooted. Butter, eggs and sugar whipped together with flour and chocolate enter the oven a sweet confection, come out a perfectly formed cake filling the air with heavenly aromas. They remind me of the sweetness of life.

One day at a time, one ritual at a time, I regain my equilibrium and find the energy for more compassion.

This Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake is one I have made many times over the years. It is rich and moist, tasty in many of the same ways of a classic cookie. A beloved dessert in the Bray family, I hope you enjoy it as well.

I look forward to seeing you in my kitchen, gathering flavors, soon.

Dena


CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE CAKE

Yield: 8 servings

Ingredients:

  • 10 ½ tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 ¼ cups sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon Kahlua
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips

For serving:

  • Confectioner’s sugar
  • chocolate morsels (optional)

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Generously butter an 8-inch -spring-form pan. Line the outside of the pan with aluminum foil.
  • Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  • Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until they are fully incorporated.
  • Mix in the sour cream, Kahlua and vanilla extract.
  • In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Fold these dry ingredients into the batter.
  • Add the chocolate chips.
  • Transfer the batter to the prepared baking pan and place in the preheated oven. Bake until the top is rich and golden, the cake nearly set. Don’t worry if the center is a bit damp. The cake should be this way and it will solidify during the cooling process.
  • Remove from the oven. Allow to cool completely before removing it from the pan.
  • Serve garnished with confectioner’s sugar and chocolate morsels, if you like.

This recipe is closely adapted from More Taste Than Time by Abby Mandel.