On long-distance luxury items


It was Tom’s birthday this weekend and he requested a chocolate cake.  A flourless chocolate cake, natch.

In the interest of both Valentine’s day and in good world practices in general, I thought I would tell you how we addressed the man’s “need” for this cake.  Cake:  I have never been a big fan.  It always seemed to me that the frosting was much more worthwhile than the item it frosted, so, on my birthdays, I like berry pies, befitting a July birthday.  But Tom loves all kinds of cake and really wanted this flourless one, with a recipe he’s used for years to much fanfare.

Our two not-local-but-still-gotta-have-it items are coffee and chocolate, and the ratio to which these items are readily consumed in the house is about 150:1.  It is a no-brainer for us that these buzz-inducing luxury items be fair traded and organic…along with being shade-grown.  I don’t need a little rain forest deforestation with my morning jolt, nor can I sanction a little child slavery with my chocolate cake.  Our coffee comes from a like-minded friend who is a hobbyist roaster:  we buy in 10# quantities, and the UPS driver either loves us or hates us depending on where our delivery is on her work day, as that is one mighty smelly box.  The coffee is whole-bean, and it gets thrown in the freezer to be used as needed.  Cocoa, though, comes from here as baker’s cocoa and semisweet bars.

But hey:  despite the fact that this cake has lots of long-distance ingredients, the six eggs, the sugar and the butter are local!  Recipe in the comments.

14 responses to “On long-distance luxury items

  1. Preheat oven to 350*F. Line the bottom of a 10″ springform pan with a sheet of parchment paper, and oil the sides. Melt 2 sticks (1 cup) of butter with 8 oz of semi-sweet chocolate in a saucepan. Meanwhile, combine 1 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder with 1-1/4 cups of sugar in a large bowl. Crack and beat six whole eggs in a separate bowl then fold into the sugar/cocoa mixture, combining well. Add melted butter and chocolate, mixing well, then pour into prepared pan. Bake for 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Invert a rack or plate on top of pan and turn upside down, releasing pan; let cool before removing bottom and parchment paper. Cool and top with powdered sugar or–my favorite–melted caramel. Birthday candle optional.

  2. What is it with men and their special birthday cakes? Mine NEEDS to have his German sponge cake (special pan required with lots of cracks and grooves that’s a pain in the rear to grease and clean), with strawberries and glaze. Which could be somewhat local, except his birthday is in April, and frozen berries just don’t work.

  3. Hey, I don’t need cake and I belong to the male gender!! My passion is pies – especially pumpkin, along with apple, and some blueberry and blackberry. My wife loves lemon meringue, but for the life of me, I can’t figure out why.

    Anyway, I had a B/Day not too long ago and I baked me own pumpkin pie. But not really pumpkin – I used a Kabocha squash and thought it tasted really good. I like Kabochas.

  4. Oh Gosh… this cake looks soooo good!

    Is my sweet tooth showing? :o)

  5. I don’t believe it: Nikko Ming Tree! I was having trouble getting replacement pieces so after ~30 years I put what I had left in the attic. Do you want ’em?

  6. I just walked Cranky through a list of possible favorite birthday (january) desserts, and he settled on flourless chocolate cake.

  7. Like you, I much prefer cobbler or pie to cake….. cake just seems so, well, soft and sweet in a sugary way (ok, that sounded off – that’s just what it is made of, right!?). Give me a nice piece of fresh blueberry pie any time.
    I think its great how you still make an effort to get in local things, even with the special long-distance items for the cake – and stay conscious even about the long-distance ones with the fair-trade. LOL on the UPS driver!

  8. While I love me a good pie, I am a cake girl at heart. I just can’t help it… my grandma spoiled me at a young age. 🙂

    Happy birthday to Tom! Great choice for a treat there.

  9. I don’t like cake, but I still enjoy getting a birthday cake.
    Actually, I miss my mom’s birthday cakes. Nothing beats that.

  10. Just an FYI….freezing already-roasted beans isn’t really a good idea….assuming you’re somewhat of a coffee snob 😉 Green beans….yeah. Ever thought of roasting your own? Sweeet Marias is a wonderful source of unroasted beans.

    And where are you getting local sugar?? Someone is growing sugar cane in Michigan?

  11. Kristi, hah! It took me 3 days to get around to cleaning out the tart pan for this cake, I hate that chore so much. But yeah we do cater to their whims, don’t we, on their special days? And German sponge cake sounds pretty darned good!

    Yay Dennis! How are your crust-making skills coming along? I might have to try some sweet treat with the two remaining kabochas I have. They’re such pretty squashes, I think. But I’m with your wife: I love lemon meringue. Hmmm (thinks about contents of fridge and the four lemons in there).

    Kaycee, it’s even better the next day. This is one of those that’s better cold.

    OHmighosh Marcy. Are you serious? I would LOVE to take them off your hands: I had to armwrestle my mom for the ones I have and I can only serve 5, and I love blues and dishware. Let’s chat: we can do a wonderful trade of goodies!

    CC, yes: and I can see an orange glaze on the thing befitting your toasty-warm locale. I do like your idea of the birthday month, tho. Our kid had a birthday week with not less than 5 candle-blowing sessions so she’s all for it too.

    MC, cobbler! Now that’s an idea I just don’t think about until berry season rolls around. But yeah I tried to persuade him that maybe applesauce or pumpkin cake might be better but he wasn’t convinced. Even carrot cake got the thumb’s-down. Our UPS driver likes us, I think, though we do bribe her with canned goods.

    Liz, your photo of fries had me going this morning, frankly. But thanks! I’ll pass on your well-wishes to the birthday boy. You know I might like cake more too if my mother hadn’t been such a devotee of Duncan Hines.

    Pamela, hah, yeah, see my comment to Liz about my mom’s cake skillz. Not that I turn it down it’s just not my fave.

    Jason, hah! We know. The alternative (roasting our own) has been pursued, but we like giving our guy the biz. I will hand over your source just the same. But hey: sugarbeets here, not cane…and lots of them. Easy sweetness.

  12. Fruit pie/cobbler…yum! Can you tell I grew up in SW MI? lol

  13. Equal Exchange is one of my faves. Their Earl Grey is the best I’ve tasted!

  14. Jules! Yes. Just this morning I raided the freezer for frozen whole strawberries and blueberries for a small person’s lunch. “I like them cold Mama.”

    Amanda, congratulations! I suppose you know a good midwife 😉 to consult? I remember craving LOTS of spaghetti with plain tomato sauce. Earl Grey is one of my faves when I actually drink tea so thanks for the suggestion.

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