Wedding day is upon us, tomorrow. Right now, we are up in the mountains enjoying the fresh air, the star-filled sky and being surrounded by our family and friends. I feel like I’m overflowing with love from every angle.
Today’s guest post plays perfectly into this love theme. It’s written by my dear friend Nicole from Cucina Nicolina. Nicole and I met almost 5 years ago now when I joined her book club in San Francisco. She is a kind and wonderful friend but more importantly she’s a fantastic cook! She’s the one who turned me on to quinoa way back in the day, she throws an amazing dinner party, makes the world’s best chocolate frosting and at 9 months pregnant agreed to make a gluten-free cutting cake for our wedding! Pretty much she’s the best kind of friend you can have.
Below she’s sharing a recipe for Flourless Chocolate Cake and I can guarantee, without having yet had a bite, that it will be a lightly sweet, chocolately masterpiece. Again, it’s gluten-free but not vegan. I hope you enjoy.
Now, on to the wedding.
Enjoy and Exhale!
When I really think about it there are these common themes: love, family, death, reconciliation, food. All the rest is peripheral — even music, even writing. What drives us is relationships, both of the blood and of the body; the physical connection and emotional ties; the nourishment that slips down to our stomachs to fill and succor.
Years ago I spent some time in Iceland and on the trip back I pressed my face against the cold window of the plane and saw Greenland spread below me. It was strange to think that country was inhabited when Iceland was not (now it is all turned round). People say they were misnamed. All I saw of Greenland was the pack ice and so I imagined ships stranded there and in other ice floes, could see how Ernest Shackleton and his men nearly perished at sea, caught and held fast in the frozen water. How they survived is a miracle. In this modern age we still explore though our boundaries are perhaps more spatial than seaworthy. We keep searching for that elusive newness, Manifest Destiny unfulfilled.
But what truly holds is that which is eternal and everyday: the turning in to each other in the middle of the night, burrowing under thick blankets during a cool July, a fire warm against your back when night comes down early, miles hiked out along a coastal trail, a good tomato sliced and savored, a sigh expelled on the first night of spring, dogs pushing their damp noses into your palm for no other reason than to remind you yes I am here, and I love you.
I am thinking of such things, of course, because Lisa and Michael are getting married this weekend for no other reason than for pure love. I can’t be there for the wedding, alas, but my mind and heart will be with them as they pledge to stand by each other for as long as this life lasts. The clean, piney air and mountain silence will be their backdrop; the faces of loved ones smiling in front of them will carry them on into this next chapter. I know it will be a splendid day.
My old friend-now husband always loved to say, rather dramatically, don’t postpone joy, which made me laugh but also take pause, for ’tis true we shouldn’t. Weddings, which never fail to make me sigh with a bit of romantic fancy and brush away not a few tears, are a perfect example of seizing life and joy firmly by the hands and never letting go no matter what waves — or unexpected ice floes — cross your path.
To take it one step further, while you’re not postponing joy you might also consider not postponing cake. Especially a flourless chocolate one.
I’ve always loved a chocolate cake sans the flour — it really cuts to the chase and reminds you that chocolate is really what it’s all about. Who needs all that floury nonsense when really what we’re hankering for is pure chocolate, condensed? Especially for a wedding cake — and in fact a version of this cake, made by me, will be nibbled upon by our favorite couple at their reception. I couldn’t be gladder to be a part of it in that small way.
Oh, please make this. It’s so easy and so delicious. Pretty much it’s butter and chocolate and a few eggs which really doesn’t sound so exotic but when given a good whirl in the oven everything distills down to the purest, richest, silkiest breath of chocolate you could ever imagine. I sprinkled a bit of sea salt over the top at the last-minute and I’m so glad I did (though for Lisa and Michael I will drape a velvety chocolate ganache across its top). During the endless search for perfect love or an elusive, uncharted territory the marriage of sweet and salty is one that endures — and makes you sit up and pay attention.
Some nights I imagine myself out on the ice in the midst of that creak and sway, the boom and rush. It is nearly silent there and stars burn bright ahead. The ship lists on its side. But I think I would strap on my snowshoes and head south, if I could. I would bridge the gap. I would forge on. I would take in all the joy this life holds, large and small.
I would bring cake.
Congrats Lisa and Michael and all the best to you! You are marvelous and I adore you and I know you will be so very happy.
Sea-salted Flourless Chocolate Cake, adapted from epicurious.com
4 ounces fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened)
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
3/4 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder plus additional for sprinkling
1-2 Tb. sea salt
Preheat oven to 375°F and butter an 8-inch round baking pan. Line bottom with a round of wax paper and butter paper.
Chop chocolate into small pieces. In a double boiler or metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water melt chocolate with butter, stirring, until smooth. Remove top of double boiler or bowl from heat and whisk sugar into chocolate mixture. Add eggs and whisk well. Sift 1/2 cup cocoa powder over chocolate mixture and whisk until just combined. Pour batter into pan and bake in middle of oven 25 minutes, or until top has formed a thin crust.
Cool cake in pan on a rack 5 minutes and invert onto a serving plate. Sprinkle the sea salt over the top.