Have your cake and eat it too: Nikki’s chocolate cake

You may remember that not long ago, thanks to Beto and Bernie, the Sweetie and I were released from Wichita Falls, Texas. You may also recall the kerfuffle at the local Walmart Supercenter when a scooter-riding woman careened around the store, guzzling wine out of a Pringle’s can. Walmart security eventually herded her into a corner where she was relieved of her ride and banned from the store for life.

Well, that same Wichita Falls Walmart is back in the news. This time the culprit (again, a woman) bought a cake from the bakery and polished off half of it while she shopped. When she lined up at the check-out counter, she demanded 50% off because there was only half a cake left. Whether or not utensils were involved has not been revealed by store management, but the visual is vivid—scooter-riding woman careening around a Walmart Supercenter, eating cake out of a bakery box. Wichita Falls Police were called, the cake-eating suspect was forced to pay full price and was banned from the store for life. 

Today is the Fourth of July and I can’t seem to conjure up many bright holiday tales. Don’t remember much about it growing up, other than watermelon, sparklers and Roman candles. I do remember attending a great Fourth of July party in 1985 or so at the Foster/Ventimiglia Fontainebleau apartment in the Pacific Palisades. We consumed copious amounts of bing cherries and wine, sang songs, danced dances, and ooohed and aaahed as fireworks sparkled up and down Sunset Boulevard.

Our sister Nikki died on the Fourth and our brother Tommy died on Father’s Day, so those holidays carry a mixed bag of emotions. Here’s to you both, we will always remember you.

Nikki was our family’s “Pie Lady” but she also made a mean chocolate cake. I pressed her over the years for the recipe and she finally wrote it out on the back of an envelope. 

Nikki’s Chocolate Cake 

“Buy a Pillsbury ‘Moist Chocolate Cake with Pudding.’  Put it in a mixing bowl. Add one tablespoon of instant coffee espresso powder to the warm water. Then put in the eggs, the water with the espresso and however much oil it says. I also add a teaspoon of real vanilla—it seems to help with the cake mix taste. I mix it with the beaters for about two minutes and then put it in a 13 x 9 inch oiled pan. Bake as directed on the box. 

Be prepared to serve this particular recipe about 45-50 minutes after it comes out of the oven. It should still be pretty warm. I guess one could really just warm it up again. 

While the cake is baking put an 8oz. bar of whatever kind of semi-sweet baking chocolate you like in a microwave safe Pyrex four-cup pitcher. It is easier to stir and then pour it right at the table. I was forced to use an 8 oz. brick of Baker’s Chocolate and it seemed to be just fine. Melt about a little over half of a 1/4 lb. of butter and about a 1/3 cup of half and half in the microwave. There is less chance of seizing if you put the butter and cream in first to heat up a little. Then add the chocolate chunks. I don’t bother with chopping. I put it in the microwave for 10 secs. for a few times, checking and stirring until everything is quite warm. If you need to correct the consistency it is easier to add at the end than instead of trying to figure out just how much you need at the start. Start stirring it until it looks almost like runny pudding. Serve sauce very warm on warm cake and don’t forget the coffee ice cream. You already know how to melt chocolate and bake a cake but this is just the way I do it.”

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