The rain drove down hard, slanting sideways under the umbrella and dotting the green frosting like a golf course under spring’s showering siege. The mountainous thing tipped precariously on its pan, the weather too cold to cause a mudslide of cake and frosting but the transport disrupting its sound structure nonetheless. Luckily, it made it despite 2.1 miles of car travel over potholed and pitted roads, the rain, and a number of stairs into Angelia’s first-floor apartment. Inside were a number of children and…balls. Small, large, medium-sized, soccer, football, Marvel, and the list goes on. I worried the balls underfoot would cause a last-minute cake-tastrophe, but alas, Mommy’s maneuvering instinct probably saved the day.
Angelia placed the cake on the table, and her towheaded two-year-old Jack tottered into the room behind. “Cake!” he exclaimed, his toddler teeth swept up in a wide grin. The house was loaded with presents, toys, his cousins and friends, birthday decorations, but the cake was his crowning jewel. His eyes level with the kitchen table, Jack stood in front of the volcano cake. “Cake!” He sputtered out a thank you, a child very well-mannered for his age, and even managed to point it out to a few of his family members, but the reoccurring theme here was “Cake!”
After the party, Jonmark and I returned for dinner at Angelia’s, the leftovers from Jack’s party covering every square foot of flat surface in the kitchen. She has cooked enough food for Patton’s 3rd, but to my understanding, no one went home hungry except her sister’s husband, who was disappointed he missed cake time. Dinner warmed in the oven and Jack helped me open a bottle of salad dressing, his small cake-shoveling paws seeking both a way to be involved and something far more simplistic: cucumbers. After we’d consumed far more delicious lasagna than we should have, the cake was once again placed on the table. Our inner children smiled as we each dug in, our fingers and forks as happy and busy as Jack’s. We demolished the volcano; like gods, we tore down the powerful mountain full of chocolate-and-cookie lava, the imaginary people of Vesuvius in cake land cheering as we save their small village from destruction.
I felt a bit like Julie Powell that morning, whipping together a special cake for a special eater. Her story is told in Julie & Julia, a movie that documents the blog she wrote about her year cooking Julia Childs’ recipes from Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Like Julie, nothing seemed to go right Saturday morning, the vanilla cake burnt to the bottom of the pan, creating holes I could only cover with green frosting. There was a mess all over the kitchen, and as it turned out, the cake was crooked because my oven is too small three glass cake pans. The chocolate layers were so moist that I couldn’t even frost them without filling the buttercream with big crumbs. However, when it was done, I certainly felt accomplished.
The green layer of “grass” is a vanilla sheet cake colored with food coloring, and the chocolate layers have holes cut out of the middle, which are filled with a mix of chocolate ganache and Oreo cookies. The “lava” on top of the cake is created from drizzling the same interior mixture down the sides. To make the vanilla cake and buttercream green, I added about 6 or 8 drops of both green and yellow food coloring and mixed well.
Tip: This cake will be a bit “goopy” still after cooking time is over – DO NOT overcook!! Once the sides in the pan appear a bit golden brown, take out immediately. This cake will stick very easily to the pan because of the number of eggs in the batter. Butter well!
Easy Chocolate Ganache Lava
6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup milk
2 tbsp. confectioner’s sugar
8 Oreo cookies
-Add chips, sugar, and some of the milk to a microwave-safe bowl.
-Set your microwave to a low power, and microwave for two minutes, stirring every minute.
-Add more milk as desired to make thinner, and microwave further on low power. Tip: This ganache is going to harden, so be sure to drizzle and fill while it’s still soft!
-Crumble the Oreos and mix with the ganache for your “interior” lava! Tip: Do the lava drizzle on top of the cake first so you can be “Oreo-free” on the top and add your own strategically.