Saturday, December 17, 2011

Lots of Joy Cake

I have a lot to celebrate right now.  I have a lot of love and joy in my life, and I feel like the cake in this post reflects that: Almond Joy Cake.

The semester is officially over.  I survived my Psychopathology final.  I survived my first colonoscopy.  I am feeling better.  I have amazing friends that love me and took excellent care of me.  This is the first finals period of my college career where my eating disorder did not relapse.  All of my grad school applications and letters of recommendation are in and officially out of my hands.  I had a best friend night/day complete with a romantic comedy, cheesecake, a sleepover, shopping, and hot chocolate martinis.  I went to a Zumba Fitness® master class this morning taught by the queen of Zumba herself, Tanya Beardsley.  I am going to Florida a week from today for a vacation with my mom and younger sister.  See?  Lots of joy.

Another reason to celebrate is that one of my closest friends at Wesleyan had a birthday on Thursday.  Emily is a very important person in my life, so she deserved an extra special cake.  Lying in bed the night before, I was thinking about what combination of flavors I could put together that I hadn't already tried, and I started thinking of candy flavors.  That's when it hit me: Almond Joy Cake!  I know, it's been done before, it's not that exciting, but it's new territory for me, so I chose it.

Unfortunately, Thursday was the day I was prepping for my colonoscopy, was on a clear liquids only diet, and after taking the pills, I was really not feeling well and couldn't finish it, so I filled and frosted it when I got back from my procedure on Friday.  Friday was the birthday of two very important men in my life, and unfortunately, neither of them are still with us.  My best friend, Kurtis, was supposed to turn 22, and my grandfather would have turned 78.  Being able to assemble and frost a cake on their birthday was very cathartic for me.  It was almost like I was making the cake for them, too.

Almond Joy Cake
Recipe adapted from here.

4 eggs
1/2 cup milk (I used almond)
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp almond extract
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup ground almonds
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 tsps baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into 16 pieces

Mix together milk, eggs, and extracts.  Set aside.
Grind almonds.  I don't have a food processor, so I used a coffee grinder.
Whisk together dry ingredients and ground almonds.
Mix in butter, one piece at a time, until the texture is uniform.
Once mixture looks like this, add half he liquid mixture and beat until fluffy.  Then stir in the rest.
Grease and flour two 9" cake pans.
Divide the batter between both pans and smooth it out.
 Bake at 350°F for 30 minutes.  Cool in pans on wire racks for 20 minutes, then remove cakes and continue cooling on racks.  When completely cool, shave off parts of the cakes that are uneven.

Coconut Filling
Recipe made up in my head.
1/4 cup coconut oil
1 cup shredded coconut (unsweetened)
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup milk (I used almond)
Beat coconut oil until smooth.  Stir in all other ingredients and beat until uniform.
Cook for about 10 minutes over medium low heat until some of the milk evaporates.  Remove from heat.
Chocolate Frosting
Recipe also made up in my head.

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter (room temperature)
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
2 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
8 oz melted semi-sweet chocolate
1 tsp vanilla
1 Tbs cold strong coffee
2-4 Tbs milk (I used almond)

Beat together shortening and butter until fluffy.
Add in all other ingredients except the milk and beat until fluffy.  Add as much milk as necessary until it is a spreadable consistency.
Spread cooled coconut filling evenly across the bottom cake layer, leaving about 1/2" of space at the edges.
Add the next cake layer.  Plop a large amount of frosting on the top of the cake and spread out to the edges and then around the sides.  Decorate as desired.

Thank you everyone for being so supportive and making me feel so loved and cared-for through all of this.  Thank you for a wonderful semester.  And a special thank you to the birthday girl, Emily, for giving me an excuse to make this cake to help me cope and process things.

Happy Birthday Emily, Kurt, and Grampie!  I love you three!  The rest of you, have a wonderful winter break and holiday season!
Love and cookies,

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