When the skies (metaphoric or otherwise) turn a little dark is it cake or a cocktail that you reach for?
Sometimes it’s hard to choose. Introducing; the cocktail cake. This one’s inspired by a dark and stormy.
Things are good. Shining good. Stellar good. They’re good for many reasons. For one there’s there’s less grit and graft in life than in the past.
Things are on the up not just due to circumstance. I should admit that since I had my ‘bolt of lightning* I’ve become much better at filtering for the positive.
(*bolt of lightning aka The Lightning Process a slightly alternative health program which I count largely responsible for helping me crawl out from beneath the clouds of CFS/ME).
Resumes normal broadcasting.
One of the long term take aways from those three days two years ago in an airless room with a group of people diagnosed with chronic illnesses (OH THE JOYS) was to develop a habit of scanning for the good to help fuel yourself.
There’s a lot more to the program than that, but this was one of the easiest things to put in place.
Instead of getting bogged in the bad- both the catastrophes and the niggles that trigger adrenalin and makes you more tired, you try very hard to light balloons of positive things.
Before I drift off to sleep I try and tabulate the good nuggets that have come my way. It’s these moments of contentment, both large and small that help the good days roll on and on.
Here are a few moments that are currently on high rotation.
1) Shining happy faces overlooking Lake Como. A very recent collection of moments, blurred across a few days of crystal clear water, spaghetti vongole, close friends from Sydney and campari streaked sunsets. Life doesn’t get much nicer.
2) The sensation of crossing things off a to do list. More than that, the sweet spot of writing that descends between 4.30 and 7.30 pm. While there’s lots of busy work that happens earlier in the day (including testing things like these for the book)
it’s 4.30pm when my brain kicks into a productive gear. I load up Spotify with music I’m too embarrased to let Facebook broadcast. I make a pot of peppermint tea. Words flow and best is the sound the keys make as they clack on and on. I really, really like that sound.
3) Daffodils. I’ve got a bunch of them on my desk at the moment. Meg Ryan may have thought that daisys are the friendliest of flowers, but to me, it’s hard to beat the sunshiny faces of daffodils.
4) Having good neighbours who have become great friends. People we can ask to check if we remembered to lock the door when we dash out at 4.30 am towards the airport. Who we don’t have to tell to be quiet if they’re having a party- because we’re invited. And who are on hand to help us finish a cake like this.
This is a multitasking wonder; a cake and a cocktail in one. It’s a muddling of a dense chocolate cake with rum and the accompanying flavours of a dark and stormy. The dark and stormy is a keeper of a cocktail, traditionally found in Jamaica- though also in Australia, combining rum, ginger beer and a squirt of lime.
Here the rum is found in the cake (though feel free to pour yourself one over ice to have on the side). The ginger is candied and layered with lime zest in a cream cheese frosting. All together it’s a solid combination of dark and light.
I love the sunshining colours. I love how the frosting squelches out the side. I love the surprising bursts of ginger and the zing of lime. I like that it’s essentially gluten free. It’s happy making stuff for days when the sky is a little grey.
Bookmark it for emergencies when you’re mining for nuggets of contentment and coming up a little short.
Dark and stormy cake
Makes 2 cakes that get sandwiched together with frosting to make a layer cake
1 saucepan. 1 mixing bowl. 2 cake tins. Baking paper for lining. Microplane/zester. Electric beaters. Vegetable peeler
300 grams dark chocolate (70 per cent cocoa solids)
140 grams unsalted butter
100 grams muscavado/brown sugar
8 eggs, beaten
1 cup cocoa powder
100 grams of almond meal
1/3 cup dark rum
Filling and topping
Zest 2 limes
8 pieces of stem ginger, cut into thin coins and two tablespoons of syrup
500 grams cream cheese
powdered sugar to taste
Here’s how we roll
1) Preheat oven to 180 C/375 F.
2) Grease and line with baking paper two 23 cm springform cake tins (or one, but you’ll have to bake the cake twice).
3) In a small saucepan combine the chocolate and the butter. Place over a low heat and stir until smooth then remove from heat.
4) Transfer the butter and chocolate to a mixing bowl and add the sugar.
5) Add the beaten eggs one at a time, stirring well between each addition.
6) Add the rum and the cocoa.
7) Fold in the almond meal.
9) Allow to cool before making the filling and layering.
To make the filling
1) Beat together the cream cheese, zest of one of the limes, rum and the stem ginger syrup until smooth.
2) Turn the cakes upside down to ensure a flat surface. Spread half of the frosting over the top. Add 3/4 of the stem ginger coins.
3) Sandwich the other cake over the top. Spread the remaining frosting on and scatter some curls of lime zest, remaining ginger segments over the top.
NB, while I’m far from evangelical, anyone who is interested in The Lightning Process might find it interesting to read a bit more about it here.