Earlier this week... my office had a new copier installed. This was one of the happiest days of my professional life. Seriously, if you've never had a shitty copier, then you have no idea how lucky you are. The next time you walk by the copier... give it a little love tap and a thank you. Because, the copier may seem to be the meek and unforgettable piece of office equipment... but, don't you test it, because it can and will go postal on your office at any given moment and render your entire office into a frustrating, unproductive hell-hole in which you think you will never see the light of day again.
So, yeah, I was pretty psyched about the new copier installation.
The IT dude that did the install was kinda cute. Not like Eric Bana/Mike Fisher smoking hot-cute. But, more like a Jim Halpert cute. Which... I'll take. So, anyway... he's in the office for awhile and I'm helping him figure out something about our network and I'm not even really paying attention to him. All I can think about is how freaking excited I am at the prospect of having a copier that might not give me nightmares and wake me up in a cold sweat in the middle of the night. And then... at some point, I look at him and I think... "huh. This guy looks familiar." So, I stare for awhile.. trying to place him...
Is he a regular at my local bar? Ehhh... doesn't seem like it would be his scene.
Is he a friend of a friend of a friend? Possibly.
And as I'm staring at him and trying to place his face, I start thinking... "huh. this guy is pretty cute." And then he looked up at me and caught me staring at him with a studied look and I blurted out the next possibility...
"You look familiar... did you do our last copier install?"
And as soon as he smiled and said yes... I realized what a dumbass I am.
You see... our last copier install was like 2 years ago. Oh wait, actually, he corrected me... it was 2.5 years ago. So, the fact that I remembered him from 2 years ago (my bad, make that 2.5 years ago) is like male-speak for... "crazy-stalker-desperate bitch" type. (Which... let's be honest... suits me to a tee).
So, I tried to downplay it... Tried to engage him in copier talk and I really, ultimately just crashed and burned.
Which brings me to the initial question I posed... the most valuable characteristic or personality trait... is being able to flirt effectively.
The past couple of years, it's been brought to my attention that my flirting skills are quite shitty. Like... if someone else gets the ball rolling first, I can usually hop on for the ride and get a little flirty back. But, when I'm trying to initiate the flirting? HA! Forget about it. It turns into an awkward mess of mispronounced words, mumbling, and broken eye contact. It's not pretty, folks. Not pretty at all. And I'm sad to say that it's actually something I've been working on and yet... I'm still operating at the speed of a 45 year old virgin. I mean, at this point, I'm thinking she could probably out-flirt me. It's THAT BAD.
So, what's a girl to do? I've tried practicing. I've tried advice. I just can't get the hang of it and the more I think about it, the worse the flirting becomes.
If only I could let my oven do the flirting for me. You see, if, in the cute copier dude story above, I had had a piece of this cake lying around and instead of mumbling on about stack bypass trays and paper jams I just said, here... have a bite. I'm sure I could have sealed the deal. Because, really... how could you resist a girl holding a piece of cake? Until I can figure out a way to carry around various baked goodies without A. jacking up the lining of my purse and B. coming off as some crazy baker chick who carries around baked goodies that, rumor has it, is laced with a sedative so that she can drag you off to her condo and when you wake up you've got a paint brush in your hand and she's thanking you for "volunteering" to help her paint her kitchen. I think I'm going to have to continue to work on the flirting. Because, all I need is to become *that* girl as well. Dammit!
The good news? Is this cake will hopefully make you forget how god-awful you are at flirting and make you realize that a good slice of cake can make you feel better about almost anything. I made this cake a couple of months ago (eek! I know! I've been in a blogging slump lately, but I'm coming back, I promise) for my friend Ash's birthday. He had a party at his house and I of course baked a cake and brought it along.
The week prior to the party, I was hanging out with Ash and I sneakily asked him (while he was drunk) what kind of cake he likes... he said chocolate. Actually, he went off on some diatribe about weird cake flavors and frostings, but all I remembered the next day (well, of course, I was drunk, too) was chocolate.
The cake was a hit. People are always impressed when they find out that you made a layer cake, and then even more impressed when they find out that it's entirely homemade. And, while, I agree... boxed mixes have their place in the culinary world, when it's a friend or family member, someone you care about... take the extra effort and bake them a cake from scratch. It might not turn out as moist as a boxed mix, but it's definitely full of more love and the recipient will be touched that you went out of your way for them. Sure, it's messy and takes time, but it's worth it, because your friend/family member is worth it.
Adapted from recipes from: Southern Living and Hershey's
This cake is easy, moist, and delicious. Actually, it's almost too moist. I made a 2 layer cake and then attempted to slice the cakes in half to make a 4 layer cake. My layers came out in pieces, so I had try and smush everything back together. Not pretty. And it made for an equally ugly slice. So,I suggest you just leave it at 2 layers. The cake itself is light but flavorful. I love that it uses only brown sugar, which I think lends itself to a moister, richer flavored cake.
I wanted to lighten up the chocolate in the cake so I decided to whip up a basic vanilla filling to go between the layers instead of chocolate frosting. I think it worked. But feel free to fill the cake with whatever frosting you desire.
The outside of the cake I frosted with my all-time favorite chocolate icing. Hershey's One Bowl Chocolate Buttercream. Easy and delicious. It's like a bowl of chocolate bliss. I topped the cake off with a few chopped pecans and called it day.
Chocolate Velvet Cake
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate morsels
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 16 oz package of light brown sugar
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 8 oz container of sour cream
1 cup hot water
2 tsps vanilla extract
<>Grease and flour 3 8 inch cake pans (I used 2 9 inch pans) and preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Melt semisweet chocolate morsels in a microwave safe bowl at high for 30 second intervals until melted. Stir until smooth.
Beat butter and brown sugar at medium speed with an electric mixer, beating about 5 minutes or until well blended. Add eggs, one at a time, beating just until blended after each addition. Add melted chocolate, beating just until blended.
Sift together flour, baking soda, and salt. Gradually add to chocolate mixture alternately with sour cream, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Beat at low speed just until blended after each addition. Gradually add 1 cup hot water in a slow, steady stream, beating at low speed just until blended. Stir in vanilla. (Makes about 8 1/2 cups of batter).
Spoon cake batter evenly amongst greased pans and bake for 25-30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Cool in pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes; remove from pans and let cool completely on wire rack.
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup (maybe more) of milk (I used heavy cream)
2 to 2 1/2 cups of confectioners sugar
Splash of vanilla
pinch of salt
Mix butter with a hand mixer until smooth, slowly add in milk and sugar while mixing. Add more confectioners sugar or more milk to get the desired consistency. Finish with vanilla and salt.
Yield: Enough to fill 3 layers of a 9 inch cake.
Hershey's One Bowl Chocolate Buttercream
This is a half recipe. Since I used a different frosting for the filling, I only needed enough frosting for the outside of the cake. This recipe yields one cup. If using this recipe for your filling, I'd double recipe, at the least.
3 tablespoons of butter, softened
1 1/3 cup of confectioners sugar
1/4 cup Hershey's cocoa
1/4 cup of milk (I used cream), maybe more
1 tsp of vanilla
Beat butter in a medium bowl. Add confectioners sugar and cocoa alternately with the milk, beat to spreading consistency (additional milk may be needed). Stir in vanilla.