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Today is the glorious anniversary of my Dadini’s birth! My Dadini rocks. He can fix anything (his current recreational project is the disassembly-and-restoration-and-reassembly of a vintage bulldozer) and solves all my car and house problems with a clarity and efficiency of thought that I can only dream of emulating. Unlike me, he has never cried because his compost bin broke. He is a problem- and puzzle-solver extraordinaire, and his significant brain matter is polished with a fantastic sense of the ridiculous, excellent joke delivery and an unfailing eye for wankers.

He also loves black forest cake. We did not have much in the way of black forest cake ingredients chez Spoonfully. Typically, black forest cake has: cherries, kirsch, cream, chocolate, and chocolate cake. We had cherries, fo sho, and that was enough to convince me that a wondrous black forest-esque confection was within my grasp. And, by extension, Dadini’s grasp. It’s all about problem-solving. My Dadini being a fellow of highest problem-solving skill, I can think of no greater tribute than to show how much I have learned from him in the field of solution-finding.

The first thing to overcome was the absence of icing sugar: what is a black forest cake without some sort of icing or glaze, I demand? M cast his mind back to his hazy youth (it wasn’t a long time ago: it’s hazy due to the exceptionally high quantities of Froot Loops and Li’l Twitcher’s Kiddy Amphetamines he used to eat for breakfast) and recalled that you can pop regular sugar into a blender and whirr it into powder to make icing sugar. So I did that!

Fine white powder, anyone?

Whirrrrrrrrrrrrrr until the motor gets too hot or the sugar becomes sufficiently powdery, then stop. Presto! It’s not as fine as the stuff you buy, but that’s fine. It was fine enough to dissolve in the glaze.

The next absent ingredient to overcome was cream: as I’m a non-cream eater, and so is Mumini, and Dadini doesn’t really fancy it either — so it was remarkably easy to come up with a solution for the absence of cream. Declare it unnecessary. Ditto the kirsch. We had no sweet liqueurs chez Spoonfully, not through over-zealous consumption but through lack of interest. And so liqueur was declared extraneous to requirements. Done! The next thing was cherries: not really a problem of quantity, but a novelty of form. I’ve only ever cooked with bottled cherries in syrup, because frankly the fresh ones don’t stick around long enough to get cooked. But fortune smiles upon Dadin’s birthday and I had a big fresh bag of cherries from the farmers’ markets, bought that morning. Chopped, pitted, and roughly mashed with some sugar to make a syrup, they were perfect. And delicious. I chopped, pitted and roughly mashed some more.

We had no chocolate to cook with, either. (This is getting embarrassing.) But we had plenty of cocoa and access to an international recipes database for guidance. I made an extra-chocolatey chocolate cake mix. I filled each pattypan ¾ full, then kind of made a divot in the middle which I filled with cherries and syrup, then topped with a blob more batter on top. Presto! Cherry-syrup-stuffed chocolate cupcakes! Sounds pretty black forest to me.

Gnarly on the inside, too

Now, traditionally, black forest cakes are layered with cream and more kirsch-soaked cherries, but if you’ll recall correctly, we decided to dispense with the cream and kirsch, didn’t we? That’s right, we did. Pay attention. Instead: the syrup from the cherries, plus the powdered sugar produced at step 1, whipped into a smooth paste to make cherry glaze:


Plus a cherry on top, obviously.  Perfect.

Happy birthday Dadini!

So here’s to my Dadini. Patient, funny, smart as a bucket of brains with a degree in Brainology from Oxford, puzzle-solver and problem-fixer. If I turn out half as fine as he, I’ll be pretty chuffed with myself.

♥ ♥ ♥

(If you’re at all curious, you can see last year’s non-birthday-related black forest cake efforts.  You will begin to understand why I kept my ambitions cupcake-sized.)

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