nestMeg’s First Birthday: Celebrate with Chocolate Cake

Wow. I can hardly believe a year has passed since I began this whole food blogging endeavor.

In that time, I have experienced some of the most defining moments of my life: Figuring out, with all the certainty a 22-year-old can possess, what I want to doGraduating from college. Moving to another country. Monumental moments that happened beyond the promising comfort of my kitchen–yet that was the place from which I drew my strength and sought my inspiration.

I started this blog to hold myself accountable in the kitchen. To learn how to be self-sufficient. I also learned, inadvertently, how to take risks. Within the confines of my apartment, I combined rosemary and peanut butter into a pie. (I know, I live on the edge.) But outside, I quit obligations that no longer resonated with me. I pursued passions that did. In lieu of accepting a job straight after graduation, I opted to take one last hiatus.

For some, these decisions are easily made. For me, they require deliberation akin to that of our current Congress. But I want to be the kind of person who trusts her instincts, and so I’ve expanded my risk-taking beyond the kitchen and into the real world. It’s the only way to increase one’s repertoire. And if I burn the hummus? Or make a fool of myself? Well, I can take comfort in knowing that, whatever the outcome, I learned more than I would have sitting on the couch and watching three seasons of Skins. (Not that that behavior isn’t totally acceptable sometimes.)

Then again, this chocolate cake recipe is hardly risky, unless one considers the lengths my siblings and I went to in order to eat this cake outside of permissible hours. It’s not the kind of cake you forget is lying in your kitchen, waiting. It’s the kind of cake that demands attention until the last bite has been consumed. Personally, my preferred method of extra cake attainment was running my finger around the perimeter of the pan, gathering up frosting like a snow plow, then dipping it into the cake crumbs from slices past, before licking my finger clean. Then, I’d smush the unaffected frosting down to cover my misdeed.

As you can probably guess, my stealth was no match for my mother.

And the three-year-old hand you see featured in the first picture above? I’m pretty sure the body attached to it was contemplating a similar covert operation. It runs in the family.

Speaking of family, I want to thank you, my blog family. Without your support, I’d be just another not-so-starving writer. I hope you’ll stick with me in year 2 — won’t you?

Simple Chocolate Sheet Cake:
Makes one 9 x 13 cake
3 1-ounce unsweetened chocolate baking squares (or 9 tablespoons cocoa and 3 tablespoons butter)
1/3 cup water (omit water if using cocoa and butter instead of baking squares)
3/4 cup butter, room temperature
2 1/4 cups firmly packed brown sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup water

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place baking squares and 1/3 cup water into a microwave-safe bowl. (If using cocoa, skip to step 2.) Microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring after each interval, until the chocolate has melted fully. Set aside to let cool.
2) Cream butter in a bowl (including the 3 tablespoons for the cocoa, if you’re not using baking squares), then add brown sugar. Stir until well-incorporated, then add eggs one at a time. Stir in vanilla.
3) Once the melted chocolate has cooled, stir into the butter and sugar mixture. If using cocoa instead, combine cocoa.
4) Stir in flour and baking soda, alternating with the 1 cup of water. Pour batter into a 9 x 13 baking pan. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
5) Once the cake has cooled, frost with your favorite buttercream recipe. I used this buttercream frosting recipe, but omitted the mint and added a few tablespoons of cocoa.

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2 responses to “nestMeg’s First Birthday: Celebrate with Chocolate Cake

  1. I’m so proud of you!! I know you pour yourself into your food and this blog, and it really shows! Every time I read a post I feel like I just visited with you (which, by the way, I would like to do soon). Thanks for a year of great recipes and stories! Can’t wait to see where we will all be in another year, and what great food we will have experienced! Love you!

  2. Hi! I don’t understand why I always bump into food blogs just before dinner time – lol! I love everything chocolate, so this cake will be perfect to try out! And I have to try that banana pudding, wasn’ it…
    Wonderful weekend to you and yours!

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