A Letter To My Best Friend
Updated: Feb 7, 2019
Do you remember becoming my best friend? I don't. I don't actually remember meeting you either. All I have are the moments that led up to the realization you would always be my forever.
You always saved me a seat next to you. I sat there thinking it was a coincidence the seat was always available. Now I know the truth: You told people the seat was taken.
All you ever said was 'hi.' You ate deli meats and drank diet Coke. I was probably blunt when I told you nitrates/nitrites and artificial sweeteners are not a body's best friend. It's the first conversation I recall we had.
You asked me to dinner and afterwards walking me to my car, instead of saying good-night, you gave me a hug. Twice.
On walks holding hands, me telling you about protein degradation pathways and cake flavor combinations. You, sharing stories like the time your mom and sister caught you dancing to Madonna's 'Like a Virgin' when you were thirteen and the latest gossip about Enceladus. Someone to share our awkwardness, the inner-nerd with, when no one else understood.
I once walked 50 blocks in New York City holding in explosive diarrhea because I didn't want to tell you I had food allergies with consequences. I got back to the hotel and pretended like I just need to wash my hands in the lobby restroom. When I came out guests were making that 'sniffing' face, but you pretended not to notice.
We went to Paris for Xmas because you had never traveled outside of North America. I wanted you to meet my friends and celebrate New Year's somewhere different. We ate at one of the few restaurants open on Xmas eve, Au Pied du Cochon. You ate turkey and chestnuts and woke me up with your farts. You said: "It wasn't me." I consider us even.
Cooking and baking together in your tiny apartment kitchen. You shared your village recipe for a dish called 'treasure' and I watched as you meticulously sliced each ingredient for your spicy chicken soup. I showed you how to make pasta the way an Italian grandmother once taught me. Sometimes I burnt the cookies, but you told me they smelled so good. The sweetest liar.
I was wrapped up in all my blankets with my Poivre dog by my side when you asked me to marry you. I was eating a hot dog. At first, I didn't like how you asked me. It was too simplistic. I'm an eccentric show-boat. You, a simple man. The gesture represented what you had to give. If I could have a do-over I would want something more fancy. Like a hotdog with chili.
On travel alone, life felt so dark and cold. You, sending a stack of pre-written letters, one to open for each day I was gone. Some silly, some your raw emotions. Every word a piece of your heart. Words that brightened my day.
You writing me messages on Post-it notes. Inside jokes, little drawings, greetings, and sentimental thoughts. Leaving them where I would find them later. When we packed up our belongings to move into our house, I found many more. You said there are still some unaccounted for. I've kept every single one.
It's been a long time since you gave me your heart that I wear around my neck, slept in the Metro parking lot when we were too tired to drive home, bought a bottle of wine and drank it out of a paper bag in a parking lot, ate that infamous dinner at Himitsu with M.G., walked miles through the streets of the world getting to know each other, the pictures of us like digital pin dots of our adventures.
You call me Rabbit and I call you Fox. In the forest, a rabbit and fox are not likely to be friends. In life, our geographic origins are far and we don't have any commonality in our professions. You told me you saw me walking by for years, but didn't know what to say. By chance one day you saved me a seat and still there is you at the other end of a conversation that has been going on for years. Just to know such an incredible person, and be loved by them, I have the luckiest rabbit foot in the world.
This is one of Icing Troll's favorite cakes, a dark chocolate fudge cake. It happens to be vegan, so it is suitable for vegans and dairy-free consumers. The lavender buttercream elevates this basic chocolate cake to something worthy of a special occasion.
Depression-Era Chocolate + Lavender Buttercream
Makes a three-layer, 6" cake.
Chocolate | Cake (Vegan)
360 g all-purpose flour
400 g granulated sugar
50 g dark chocolate cocoa powder
2 tablespoons baking soda
1 tsp kosher salt
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
150 g vegetable oil
476 g cold water
30 g vinegar, distilled white or apple cider
Lavender | Buttercream
240 ml egg whites
400 g granulated sugar
675 g unsalted butter, cubed at room temperature
2 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp lavender extract
1 tablespoon culinary lavender, optional
Preheat oven to 325 F (165 C).
Spray three 6” round cake pans with non-stick spray (containing flour). Line the pan with parchment paper.
Chocolate Cake | Preparation
Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl. Whisk to combine. Set aside.
Combine the vanilla extract, vegetable oil, cold water, and vinegar into a separate medium bowl. Whisk to combine.
Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl of the dry ingredients. Stir until thoroughly combined.
Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan.
Lavender Buttercream | Preparation
Place the egg whites and sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk by hand until combined.
Place the bowl over a double boiler on the stove at medium-high heat and whisk constantly until the mixture reaches 160 F (71 C). Wipe off any condensate that has formed on the outside of the bowl with a towel.
Place the bowl on a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whisk the egg white/sugar mixture on high speed (approximately 10 minutes), until it holds medium-stiff peaks.
Switch to the paddle attachment. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the butter, a few cubes at a time. Once all of the butter has been incorporated, add the vanilla and lavender extract. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until the buttercream is smooth and silky, approximately 5 minutes more.
Stir the culinary lavender, if using, into the buttercream.
Baking | Final Assembly
Bake at 325 F (165C) until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.
Remove from the oven and place the cakes on a wire rack to cool for 30 minutes before turning them out onto a wire rack to fully cool to room temperature.
Once the cakes have cooled to room temperature, place one layer of cake on a cake board. Put the cake board on a cake turntable. Reserve the other layers on a piece of parchment paper while you work on the cake.
Spread an even layer of lavender buttercream. Top with a second cake round. Repeat the process for the third layer. Refrigerate until hardened, approximately 30 minutes.
Spread a crumb coat on the cake with the lavender buttercream. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Mask the cake completely with the buttercream. Refrigerate until hard, approximately 30 minutes.
Serving | Storage
Serve the cake at room temperature.
The cake can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Allow to come to room temperature before serving, for best results.
Cake recipe by The Confection Witch | Photography by The Confection Witch & Icing Troll