Does race matter? My kitchen radio keeps broadcasting this question. Perplexed interviewers repeatedly put it to pundits and people too busy to be pundits, – people like me. Of course, they’re all discussing November’s election, – pretty much what they’ve been doing for the past four years. But this year’s presidential politics has a new twist. Now they’re conversation spins on race versus age.
As one who likes to consider how many years I have ahead rather than behind, I’d like to think that age is irrelevant. And if not irrelevant, at least manageable, thanks to physical therapists, opticians, podiatrists, beauticians, skin care companies, and their health-care compatriots. So when my eyes inevitably catch a glimpse of my image in the mirror, I just mutter TV Laura Petrie’s response to her mirror, “Snow White lives.” and get back to life, just as she did. John McCain probably does the same.
I wonder what Barak Obama says to his mirror? I wonder why media folk refer to him as black when his mother was white. My beloved dog is half Labrador retriever, half German shepherd. I don’t call him a lab. I call him a mix, and vets tell me how much healthier mixes usually are.
These idiosyncratic American political spins are making me dizzy. A little unbalanced, now I’m looking at two chocolate bars and wondering, “Does race matter?” I’m reading a cake recipe that I think my daughter, Lauren, would enjoy for her ninth birthday. It’s for a chocolate cake with coconut and whipped cream icing. Lauren loves chocolate, coconut, and whipped cream. (So do I.) The recipe is from the cookbook The White Gull Inn: More Favorite Recipes From Our Kitchen. The White Gull Inn is a renowned gourmet restaurant in Door County, Wisconsin. Stories of its other-worldly meals spread from the U.P. to Iowa. Even Chicagoans know to visit the White Gull Inn when they trek to Door County. So I’m absolutely confident that any White Gull Inn cake is to die for, especially a chocolate one.
But here’s the quandary. The recipe is White Chocolate Coconut Cake. And Lauren and I don’t like white chocolate; we’re prejudiced in this way. In fact, my snacking chocolate is 85% cocoa. So if I substitute dark chocolate for white chocolate will the cake still reach White Gull Inn standards?
I respectfully punted and asked Lauren. I gave her a piece of cake-bound white chocolate, then asked if she wanted me to use it or dark chocolate in the cake. She nibbled, reflected, then emphatically answered, “DARK!” Okay, but would dark chocolate cook up any differently? “How could it?” I asked myself. Like I described in Friday’s post, I considered how ingredient flavors mix, heat, and taste. “Give it a try,” I thought, “How can I go wrong with chocolate?” So here’s the White Gull Inn’s altered recipe for Dark Chocolate Coconut Cake:
- 4 ounces white (dark) chocolate, chopped (I forgot to chop the chocolate and it didn’t matter.)
- 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream (I spent way too long in the grocery store trying to figure out if heavy cream is the same as whipping cream. It is.)
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 large eggs
- 2 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2/3 cup buttermilk
- 2 cups flaked sweetened coconut, divided
- 2 cups heavy whipping cream
- 1/4 cup sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray two 8-inch round pans with non-stick cooking spray and lightly dust with flour.
Place chocolate and whipping cream in top pan of double boiler. Cook over low heat until chocolate is melted; whisk until smooth and set aside.
Using an electric mixer, cream together butter and sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy, approximately 3 minutes. Add vanilla. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add cooled chocolate mixture and beat at low speed until well blended.
In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking soda and salt. Add alternately with buttermilk to batter, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat until smooth. Divide batter between pans and bake 30-40 minutes, or until top is slightly brown and a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool completely before removing cake from pans.
To make frosting, place 1/4 cup of the coconut in a food processor and process to a fine dust; set aside. In a medium bowl, beat chilled whipping cream with sugar until mixture forms stiff peaks. Gently fold in coconut dust. Spread frosting between cooled layers, around sides and on top of cake. Press remaining 1 3/4 cups coconut into the whipped cream frosting. Refrigerate until serving.
With 60% cocoa dark chocolate, this chocolate coconut cake was a clear winner. Unscathed by the heated cooking process, the dark chocolate emerged ready to deliver great flavor. The handsome cake appeared poised and confident as it took its honorary place at the table in front of the birthday girl. Its enthusiastic audience applauded its impressive appearance and taste.
The post-election commentary altered its focus from the chocolate’s race to the impact of a higher cocoa percentage in next year’s cake. One chocoholic asserted the 60% cocoa was perfect. I’m still looking for bolder reform; I want to up the cocoa content to 75%. The suggestion that maraschino cherries be included on next year’s frosting ticket was well received by all.
.Now in some matters we don’t have to hold elections and make difficult choices. We can have both and more. We Wisconsinites revel in our ‘enjoy it all!’ philosophy. That’s why Wisconsin chocolatiers make all kinds of chocolate and dip all kinds of food into it. So for folks who want lots of high-quality chocolate prepared in lots of fun ways, you’ve come to the right place – Wisconsin. Here are just some of our favorites.
And for the die-hard chocolate lovers, who want it all but not all at one time here’s Wisconsin’s:
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