I have a whole host of excuses ready: I didn't bring my baking/dessert toolbox with me to Florida; Mom's baking and decorating supplies are sorely lacking; there wasn't enough time; blah blah blah. I was even going to blame E4 and his lack of decorating skills, but as he didn't eat dinner, he wasn't allowed anywhere near dessert, which fact he took with strange stoicism for a 3 year old.
The simple matter is, the cake was a last minute decision. And the more relevant truth is that Marni doesn't care what the cake looks like...because it's CAKE.
Marn has Celiac's, which means her life is gluten free. She's learned to live well and eat well even with these constraints; although last night when she arrived at Mom's house for dinner with her fiancé, John, my brother met them at the door with an empty box and said, "Hey Marn, here's what you get to eat since you're allergic to wheat!" Sigh. My brother. Funny man. Cruel, but funny.
Mom made her usual medley of amazing food (summer rolls with a Hoisin/ peanut dipping sauce, and spicy Bun Bo Hue) for dinner. Vietnamese food is relatively GF friendly as we don't use much in the way of flour, distilled white vinegar or soy sauce but Mom was still nervous about what Marn could eat and couldn't eat. She kept asking me, "Can I use this [ingredient]?" And just when I thought she finally "got" it, she said, "Oh hey, we have cake, should we serve that for dessert?" Sigh. My mother. Occasionally airheaded. Unintentionally funny.
Initially I was going to make a cream-based dessert, like a mousse or a crème brûlée. But recalling the last time Marni had dinner with me, and her delight when I presented her with gluten free brownies, I thought, why not cake? Like organics, gluten free foods have become mainstream and are now accessible in grocery stores. The night of a dinner party is probably not the time to start experimenting with something as precise as gluten free baking. As it is, I'm already slightly handicapped when it comes to baking - I don't always follow the recipe as written, which in cooking is not a big deal; but in baking, can be disastrous. Enter Bob's Red Mill chocolate cake mix, which produced a lush, super moist chocolate cake. Mindless. Pour into a bowl and beat with milk, water, lemon juice, eggs, put it in the oven for 20 minutes and voilà: insta-GF cake. For the frosting and icing I modified Karen DeMasco's white chocolate cream cheese frosting recipe from last week's birthday fesitivities, increasing the cream cheese portion for a creamier texture and the white chocolate for a sweeter counterpunch to cake's pleasantly cocoa-y, not-too-sweet flavor. Mom, who doesn't particularly care for cake, declined a slice; but upon trying a bite from my plate, made off with my portion.
Marn, of course, was happy. John told me that when I informed her we were having cake for dessert, she danced a jig. I get that. How sad would I be if my diet restricted me from having the goodness that is cake?
Let her eat cake, I say.