There's a black t-shirt at the bottom of my closet
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It's one of my favorite possessions
It hides a heart on the bottom side of the tag. A message only I know. Penned nearly three years ago, on the night my husband (to be) gave it to me. The threads are worn and faded, its red letters beginning to chip, and every time I wear it, I can't help but feel
This is love
Legend has it
It all began on a random night in 1981(!) Back in the good old days when MTV only played music videos and the way to order something was via a good old-fashioned phone call. He and a college buddy drank a beer or three into the wee hours of the am. The offer along the bottom of the screen? An awesome t-shirt for anyone who placed an order for the latest Rolling Stones' LP
He'd kept it all of these years
A nod to a romance I knew was right; it signified everything I knew love to be, kindness, generosity, trust, compatibility. True confessions? When he went home that night, I signed it with a sharpie and sealed it with a kiss, my silent declaration of commitment.
Sometimes I second-guess myself as I look back over the years and my many attempts at love. Did I have it all wrong? In my twenties it looked a lot like dinner burning in the oven, two toddlers underfoot, finishing a college degree, miles logged pushing a baby stroller, and summer afternoons at the kiddie pool
In my thirties, it looked like building a career, as well as a house. Weekends on gymnasium bleachers watching junior high sports, and many visits to yet another rehab center. As the decade drew to a close, thankfully, I loved myself enough to finally get it right
Well into my forties, have I only begun to scratch the surface?
If there's anything I know for sure, no matter the decade, no matter the circumstance, I've always felt a gentle tug on my heart, and my life. An invisible pull of my spirit, a calling to something greater than myself, in environments that have often demanded I'm at my most vulnerable.
Looking back at all of my stumblings, at all of my successes, and so many failures, I've begun to wonder if maybe I'd had it right all along. That love shouldn't be measured by the standards offered by the world, instead gifting myself permission to define it for myself
Love is a choice. It's what you've tried, what you see, what you treasure, what you do. It's real. It's every day. It's right here. It's right now. It's faith, anxiety, imbalance, imperfection, joy, sorrow, and endurance
Love is a card in the mailbox of a friend, a bright spot in their day. Love is a lunch invitation to celebrate a first house. Love is caring deeply for a pet. Love is snow-blowing (all!) of your neighbor's sidewalks. Love is sharing your garden's produce. Love is attempting to repair relationships. Love is sharing recipes from afar. Love is kitties chasing mice in the middle of the night, and loads of laundry. Love is coaching someone to be their best self. Love is creating a happy home for everyone who visits.
As it was this weekend, Love is also a birthday cake, along with the celebration of beautiful friendships.
I love this cake
It's intensely chocolatey and rich, with a fudgy, moist center, along with the appearance of something that's quite difficult to make (it's not). It's filled with all-natural ingredients, without gluten or dairy (if using coconut oil instead of butter)
A spectacular, elegant, high-end finish to the best of the best meals, special celebrations, and everything in-between
The cake tastes best with good quality chocolate and is just that much better with a pinch of sea salt. A sprinkling of organic powdered sugar along with fresh berries over the top makes it that much prettier
The original recipe calls for an orange-infused taste with orange zest and juice added to the batter, though in other versions I've substituted a few dashes of peppermint oil instead. While both are nice additions in their own right, they've been received much in the way of a good Hollywood remake.
Nice, but can we please bring back the original?
~ Adapted from Baking Illustrated: A Best Recipe Classic
Flourless Dark Chocolate Cake
- 8 eggs (large or XL)
- 1 lb bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate, coarse chopped
- 16 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into ½ inch pieces
- ¼ cup strong coffee, at room temp
- To Serve
- powdered Sugar fresh berries, Greek Yogurt, or whipped coconut cream
- Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 325° F
- Grease the bottom of a springform pan, line with parchment paper, then grease the side. Wrap the outside of the pan with two 18" square pieces of aluminum foil, set in roasting pan.
- Bring a kettle of water to a boil
- Using a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whip the eggs on medium speed until doubled in volume (~ 5 minutes)
- Meanwhile, combine the chocolate, butter, and coffee in a large heatproof bowl set over a saucepan filled with one inch of barely simmering water, making sure that the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl. Stirring once or twice until the chocolate and butter are melted and the mix is very warm (should be about 115°)
- Using a large rubber spatula, fold one-third of the egg foam into the chocolate mix until a few streaks of egg are visible. Fold in the remaining foam in 2 additions until the mix is completely homogenous
- Transfer the batter to a prepared springform pan and smooth the top with a rubber spatula.
- Set the roasting pan on the oven rack and pour enough boiling water into the roasting pan to come about halfway up the sides of the springform pan
- Bake until the cake has risen slightly, the edges are just beginning to set, and a thin glazed crust (like brownie crust) has formed on the surface, and cake registers 140°. (~ 22 to 25 min)
- Remove springform pan from the water bath and set on wire rack; let cool completely
- Wrap springform pan tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, at least 4 hours or up to 4 days. (Cake can be wrapped in an additional layer of foil and frozen for up to 1 month. If frozen, let the cake thaw in the refrigerator for 24 hours before proceeding with the next step)
- About 30 minutes before serving, run a thin knife between the cake and the side of the pan; remove side of the pan
- Invert cake onto a sheet of parchment and discard parchment on the bottom of the cake. Re-invert the cake onto a serving platter, discarding parchment
- Dust with powdered sugar, if using, and serve
- (Even though the cake may not look done, pull it from the oven when it registers 140 degrees. It will continue to firm up as it cools)
- If you use a 9" springform pan instead of the preferred 8" pan, reduce the baking time to 18 – 20 minutes.
- Serve with whipped cream or fresh berries