Oh to travel, a grand notion to some is a total nightmare for me. Tomorrow, I will be traveling to the good old Gulf Coast of Florida and no matter how many pre-flight preparations I embark on, the only one that usually has some successful follow through is the part where I get my nails done. Maybe it’s just a pre-trip preparation for girls. Well anyway, even that didn’t go great this time! I’m stuck with nails the color of Barney.
In addition to nails that look like I scratched Barney’s face in a crazy act of self defense, I’ve got a luggage full of mismatched clothes, liquid toiletries seeping out of my 1 quart sized zip-lock baggy, and a binder full of “important travel documents,” i.e. every print out confirmation e-mail from Delta Airlines, Hotwire, Trip Advisor, and Travelocity. You’d think I’m traveling to Kenya for a month, when I’m going to Eglin AFB in Valparaiso, FL for four days.
Of course included in my Doomsday preparation-type packing style, is a good read for the airport. I say airport, rather than plane because I spend the majority of the plane in and out of sedation and reciting the Hail Mary with no time for reading. Did I mention flying is my biggest fear? I’m not the subtly nervous flyer, I’m the vocal, get me off this death box in the sky, type of flyer. I’m really not the ideal person you want to get stuck sitting next to on the plane, but I have gotten better at flying. I mean, I don’t pass out anymore. That’s a huge step.
My one friend let me borrow her book titled Stormy Weather by Carl Hiaasen for this trip. This novel takes place during the height of tourist season in South Florida, when a destructive hurricane sweeps through the area. In addition to Mother Nature’s wrath, the storm lures crooks of all crimes into the area- looting homes, scamming the most vulnerable, and bringing the most unlikely of characters into contact. My friend recommended this book because I am a sucker for a good dark comedy.
I am only two chapters in, but so far I’ve been introduced to newlyweds Bonnie and Max. Bonnie, who really just wants to go to Epcot, is pressured by her new husband to chase the newly notorious storm, bringing them into the center of both the storm and society’s destruction. I’m using the word “destruction” a lot- it’s a little over the top of me.
Anyway a full book report upon my return! And no worries, its supposed to be blue skies and green Gulf waters for my trip, no hurricanes for me- thank God.
Chocolate Almond Fudge Cake
Ingredients for the Cake:
1 Cup butter, room temperature
2 Cups white sugar
1 1/2 Teaspoons vanilla extract
2 Cups whole milk
2 1/2 Cups flour
6 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 Teaspoons baking powder
1 Teaspoon salt
1 Cup mini chocolate chips
Ingredients for the Icing & Filling/ Topping:
3/4 Cup butter, room temperature
1 Cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3 Cups powdered sugar
1 Teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 Cup + 2 Tablespoons whole milk
2/3 Cup Nutella
2 Cups crushed almonds
For the cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degreed fahrenheit. In an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add in vanilla extract and eggs, one at a time and set aside. In a separate bowl, sift together the four, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Then, alternate adding the dry ingredients and milk into the wet ingredients. Mix in the mini chocolate chips. Bake in four 9 inch baking rounds that have been overly greased with butter and bake for 25-30 minutes or until toothpick clean. Let cool for an hour before frosting. This cake will be flat, dense, but super moist- hence, Fudge Cake.
For the icing: While the cakes are baking, beat the butter and cocoa powder in an electric mixer until it is creamy. Add in powdered sugar, vanilla extract and milk. Beat until well incorporated. Then, add in nutella and beat until fluffy. Add more milk if needed.
For the topping: Toast the almonds for 5 minutes at 350 degrees fahrenheit. Do not do this while the cakes are baking. Opening the oven while baking causes the cakes to sink in the middle. Once the almonds are toasted, crush them using a rolling pin or your fists- depending how much aggression you need to let out. To assemble, frost one later of the cake and then sprinkle it with crushed almonds before adding another layer of cake. Do this three times. For the top of the cake, more generously frost it with the chocolate frosting and decorate with almonds.
Go ahead… embrace this thick and fudgy chocolate goodness and a good book.