Friday, February 18, 2011

We're Single & We're Awesome Plus We Have Chocolate Party

We're single.

We're awesome.

We have chocolate.

And all of the above is worth celebrating!

We single people tend to get lost in the Valentine's Day shuffle, which is completely understandable since the holiday is really a celebration of love for couples or small children who know how to cut a heart out of construction paper with safety scissors. That's not a complaint, by the way. I'm happy for my married friends who take it as an opportunity to celebrate their love for one another. I also take it as an opportunity to pray for my married friends.

As a single person, however, Valentine's Day kinda makes me feel like the kid picked last for dodgeball. Or like the kid who couldn't find a partner for the three legged race at school so she had to sit off to the sides, feeling completely left out, and watch all the other kids have fun.

That never happened to me, by the way.

Honest.

Fine.

The dodgeball part is true.


But I was the last kid standing for my team in the first game and we won. Guess who got picked FIRST for the second game? Uh-huh. Yeah. You got that right. Rawr.

I've discovered that there's no written rule that says, "Single People Can't Enjoy Valentine's Day," so why not gather some single girlfriends and do something special? I should add the caveat that Valentine's Day is already pretty special because it's my dad's birthday. Can it get any more special than THAT? My dad would say no.

Erin Ashley's Bachelorette Pad of Awesomeness was the host site for the We're Single & We're Awesome Plus We Have Chocolate party. Boy, was the Bachelorette Pad of Awesomeness LOUD! There were four of us girls and we laughed ourselves silly. If I told you all the things we talked about...well...I couldn't. That wouldn't honor the "never repeat what girlfriends talk about during girl time" code of ethics. I just made that code of ethics up. If you want to know the truth, we talked so much I don't even remember half the things we talked about. But I do know they were important at the time and it made us laugh.

It was a great night. We wore plastic bead necklaces. We ate chocolate cake and strawberries. And we laughed. And we laughed. And we laughed. What more could a group of girls want? Loneliness is a choice. Joy is a choice. I like joy better. I find I use less Kleenexes with joy. If you know you're going to be left out next year on Valentine's Day, be proactive. Gather a bunch of friends because, chances are, they'll be feeling the same way. You'll have a whole lot more fun together than apart!

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Chocolate Decadence Cake
recipe from Eating Well

Ingredients:

7 ounces 60-70% bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (about 1 1/3 cups)
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably natural (see Note)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2/3 cup plus 1/4 cup sugar, divided
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup nonfat or low-fat milk
2 large egg yolks, at room temperature (see Tip)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large egg whites, at room temperature
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar

Directions:

1. Position rack in lower third of oven; preheat to 350°F. Line the bottom of an 8- or 9-inch cake pan (1 1/2 to 2 inches deep) with parchment paper and coat the sides of the pan with cooking spray. Put a kettle of water on to boil for Step 6.

2. Place chocolate and cocoa powder in a large bowl.

3. Combine flour, 2/3 cup sugar and salt in a small heavy saucepan. Whisk in just enough of the milk to form a smooth paste. Mix in the remaining milk. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon to prevent burning (especially around the sides and bottom edges of the pot), until the mixture begins to bubble. Boil gently, stirring constantly, for 2 to 2 1/2 minutes (the mixture will get very thick and then you may notice that it thins ever so slightly as the starch cooks). Scrape the hot mixture immediately over the chocolate and cocoa. Stir until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth. The batter will be very thick. Stir in egg yolks and vanilla.

4. Beat egg whites and cream of tartar in a mixing bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until soft peaks form. Gradually sprinkle in the remaining 1/4 cup sugar, beating on high speed until the egg whites are stiff but not dry.

5. Gently fold about one-fourth of the egg whites into the chocolate batter to lighten it. Gently fold in the remaining egg whites until no white streaks remain. Scrape the batter into the cake pan, smoothing the top.

6. Set the cake pan in a larger baking pan and place on the oven rack. Pour enough boiling water into the baking pan to come a third to halfway up the side of the cake pan. Bake until the surface of the cake is slightly crusted and springs back when gently pressed, 20 to 25 minutes. (The cake will still be quite gooey inside.)

7. Remove the pans from the oven. Transfer the cake pan to a wire rack and cool completely, about 2 hours. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight before serving.

8. To serve: Soak the blade of a thin knife in a cup of very hot water until warm. Slide the knife around the sides of the pan to release the cake. Place a piece of wax paper on top of the cake. Invert a plate over the wax paper and invert the pan onto the plate. Remove the pan and peel away the paper liner. Place a serving plate over the cake and turn the cake right-side up again; remove the wax paper. Dip a sharp knife in hot water and wipe it dry before cutting each slice. Cut 12 slices. Erin's tip: try using a FLOSS! It cuts right through with a cleaner line and less mess! To make the heart design, cut a square of paper (parchment, notebook, anything will do), fold in half, cut a half heart shape like you learned how to do in elementary school, place over the cake slice, and sift powdered sugar on top, remove paper, and you have a sweet heart design!



Tips & Notes

Make Ahead Tip: Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days. | Equipment: 8- or 9-inch round cake pan, 1/2-2 inches deep; deep baking pan large enough to hold the cake pan; parchment paper

Note: Cocoa powder comes in two styles: natural and Dutch-processed. Dutch-processed cocoa has been treated with alkali, or "Dutched," to neutralize the natural acidity of cocoa, while natural has not. For this recipe, we prefer the taste of natural cocoa powder, although either type can be used.

Tips: To bring an egg to room temperature, submerge it (in the shell) in a bowl of lukewarm (not hot) water for 5 minutes.

When egg whites are beaten to “soft” peaks, the whites will still be soft enough to curl over when a beater is turned upside down. The whites are considered “stiff” peaks when they remain stiff and upright.



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Per serving (12 servings): 164 calories; 6 g fat (3 g sat, 0 g mono); 35 mg cholesterol; 29 g carbohydrates; 23 g added sugars; 3 g protein; 2 g fiber; 49 mg sodium; 92 mg potassium.

Weight Watchers Points+: 5

2 comments:

  1. I love your spunk and positive nature Erin! You are truly an inspiration to women (both married and single!)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Right back at you Sunday! You are inspiration to moms and especially moms of special needs children! Thank you for being a voice to them!

    ReplyDelete

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