When we made the decision to leave Singapore and move to Tunisia we left a lot of friends behind. I'm so grateful that we live in the day and age of Skype, and email. I'm also grateful that my friends are adventurous and like to travel. That means, I could leave with the assurance that there will be visitors.
We also left Singapore knowing that friends would be headed to Tunisia with us, and that we had dear friends waiting for us there. You feel much more confident having someones hand to hold whether that is a husband, a parent or a friend. The world isn't quite so big and scary with a friend by your side.
Tonight we are gathering with friends to celebrate a birthday, to congratulate each other on a job well done, to mark the beginning of a Merry and Bright Holiday. There will be new friends, old friends, friends who fit your hand like a worn glove, friends who we are just beginning to fold into our lives.
Like the song says.....You know you got to have friends.
For Lauren, Happy Birthday Friend!
2 sticks unsalted butter
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
¾ cup water
2 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup well-shaken buttermilk
2 tablespoons vanilla
1 teaspoon coffee extract
½ teaspoon almond extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
4 ounces chopped dark chocolate with chilies such as Lindt Au Piment Rouge
½ stick unsalted butter
½ cup half-and-half
¾ cup confectioners sugar
5 ounces fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 350°F and place oven rack in middle of oven. Grease and flour a 12 cup Bundt pan.
Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan over medium low heat. Once melted whisk in cocoa and then add the water and whisk until smooth. Remove from the heat and whisk in the sugar, eggs, buttermilk, vanilla, coffee and almond extracts.
In a medium size bowl sift or whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt, then add to the cocoa mixture and whisk until just combined (there may be a few lumps). Stir in the chopped chocolate.
Pour batter into prepared cake pan and bake until a wooden pick or skewer comes out with a few crumbs clinging to the skewer, 35-45 minutes.
Cool cake in pan on a rack 20 minutes, then loosen edges with a thin knife and invert onto a plate.
Melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat, stir in half-and-half and confectioners sugar. Add chocolate and cook, stirring constantly, until smooth. Remove from heat and stir in salt. Cool glaze until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.
Spoon glaze over top and sides of cooled cake and spread with a small offset spatula or knife to cover completely.