Jack O’ Lantern Chocolate Cake

Dear Shelbi,

You’re going to think I’m crazy, but let’s face it, you already do. So, I won’t be holding back.

The other day when Daddy and I were eating lunch with you at school, this light filled my entire body. It was like sunshine was being poured into a hole at the top of my head, and it flowed down to every inch of my body until I was completely filled with happiness. My heart was so joyous, and peaceful.

I think that’s what it must be like in heaven.

I sat watching you, listening to you talk about this and that and I was so proud of the person you are. I leaned over, and grabbed a tomato off your salad and thought how marvelous it is to sit and share this salad with you. I sipped your chocolate milk, and thought the richness must be better because we are drinking this together.

I know, I’m weird.  Always have been. But it doesn’t change the fact that it’s true.

10 years ago, you couldn’t have paid me to share a salad or anything else with ANYBODY. It may surprise you to know (or maybe it won’t and if it doesn’t DO NOT TELL ME) I used to be a relatively selfish person. I never shared the food on my plate, I was always preoccupied with what I’d be doing next and many of my dreams and goals had to do with superficial things.

But then, you came into my life.

And suddenly, all I wanted was for you was to be safe, and happy, and peaceful. And it’s all I’ve ever wanted since.

Everyday that I wake up, I think of you, and how I must never fail you. How I must teach you. How I must show you. How I must love you.

And I do love you. There isn’t anyone in the whole entire universe that I love more, than I love you.

I know I’m not always the perfect mom, nor am I always the nicest mom, but everything I do is to fulfill my destiny of helping you to become the best YOU, you want to be.

And in these 10 short years, I can see you’re almost there. You don’t need my help as much anymore. You’re so smart, and wise, and brilliant beyond your years. With your backbone of steel, innate brilliance, tenacity, fervor and giant heart, you are God’s image of glory. I can see it. I hope you do too.

I just wanted you to know that.
That I love you always.
That I could never be anything but proud of you.
That you are perfect in my eyes.
You are my sun, my light, my peace and my joy.

Smile baby. The world is your oyster.


P.S. Happy 10th Birthday

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This child may look like her father, but her taste for fine culinary foods is all me.
I couldn’t just show up on her birthday with some store bought birthday cake. Oh no. That would not do.
For her, it had to be homemade, it had to be chocolate, and it better be rich.  God knew what he was doing when he made me her Mama.
This cake is a chocolate cake.. . . .to the nth degree.
It weeps chocolate, quite literally.
It calls to you, crying, begging for you to come and partake in it’s loveliness. And you must or you will be sorry.
So very, very sorry.
Jack O’ Lantern Chocolate Cake

Cooking Spray
3/4 cup Cocoa Powder, plus more for sifting pan
2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups cake flour (you can substitute plain All-Purpose Flour)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup canola oil
3/4 cup buttermilk ( or 3/4 cup milk with 1 TB of lemon juice added)
1 cup milk
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips plus 1/4 cup for Jack O’ Lantern Face
1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips plus 1/4 cup for Jack O’ Lantern Face
7 ounces of heavy whipping cream
Red liquid food coloring
Yellow liquid food coloring
2 sticks of butter, melted
4 cups powdered sugar
1.Preheat the oven to 350. Spray Bundt cake pan with cooking spray. Dust with cocoa powder.
2. In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients which should include granulated sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
3. In a medium bowl, beat together eggs, vanilla, oil, buttermilk and 3/4 cup of plain milk.  Add egg mixture slowly to the dry ingredients, while blending with an electric mixer.  The batter will be very fluid, and almost “runny”.  It’s much thinner than a traditional batter. Pour into your Bundt cake mold and cook for about 1 hour 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool for 30 minutes before removing from the pan.
4. While the cake is cooking, prepare the chocolate ganache. In a heat proof bowl melt 1/2 cup of milk chocolate chips, 1/2 cup of bittersweet chocolate chips, heavy cream, and 1 TB of butter over a pot of simmering water. Stir continuously until completely melted. Remove from heat, and place ganache into the refrigerator to cool. Once cool, whisk to lighten.

5. Once the cake is cool, sit the cake flat side up (as it sits when baking in the oven), and using a serrated knife, cut the cake in half.

Place the top half, cut side down onto another plate.

6. Pour and spread ganache evenly over the bottom layer of the cake.

Replace top half of cake, as it where before you cut it. Set aside.

4. Make Jack O’ Lantern face. Using a permanent market and wax paper draw a Jack O’ Lantern Face. Make sure that the nose is big enough to cover the hole in the center of your Bundt cake form. Flip paper over so that you are not working on the side you wrote on.

In a small glass container, pour 1/4 c. milk chocolate chips, and 1/4 cup bittersweet chocolate chips. Microwave on high until melted, checking and stirring often.

Once the chocolate has melted, pour onto wax paper in the areas indicated by your sketch. It’s okay if it’s not completely smooth, you will be peeling it off and using the smooth side when you garnish your cake. But if you like, wet your finger and gently rub along the top and the chocolate will smooth out.

Place in freezer to harden.

5. Make orange glaze by mixing 1/4 cup plus 1 TB of milk and red and yellow food coloring until you get the perfect shade of orange (I used 1 drop of red, and 3-4 drops of yellow).   Next, in a medium sized mixing bowl, combine powdered sugar with 1 cup of melted butter. Whisk thoroughly. Continue whisking as you add the orange milk mixture.

6. Slowly pour orange glaze over the top of the cake, letting it drip to the sides. If you’d like a completely orange cake, tilt the cake delicately and coat the sides completely.

7.Once the glaze has set, peel the hardened chocolate Jack O’ Lantern face from the wax paper, and place on top of glazed cake. Serve.

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