Avocado toast, beets, blenderized matcha lattes, collecting cookbooks, and snacking on prunes. Meet Grace, my friend who is probably the only soul younger than senior citizen-standing who wholeheartedly enjoys prunes. She is my best friend and we have the kind of friendship that borders physical relationship. Let me explain.
It sounds crazy, but Grace and I seem to share a brain. We are one brain in two separate bodies, who grew up in two separate lives: I with motor-head, spaghetti & meatball, camping folks who enjoy the tooth-shattering crunch of almond biscotti, her with bubbling glass carboys of home brewed beer, pancakes every Wednesday, and the nickname of Twig. I MEAN (?!).
Despite this separateness, we would come together every Saturday morning, meeting when the sky was still inky black and venture to the farmer’s market swaddled in jackets, woven scarves, and more cloth produce bags than a person really needs.
We would tote all of our full cloth bags to a local coffee shop (exquisitely named Naked Lounge), where blushing strawberries, bouquets of basil, and trees of fennel with bolt upright fronds lay happily basking in the sun on the third chair of our table. That was us – spending the entire morning sipping frothy cappuccinos in white ceramic cups with saucers, alongside the produce that we planned to retrieve every Saturday morning. Chatting away in the already chattery din of a hipster coffee shop.
Food becomes just another excuse to stay in touch when your friendship is so successfully rooted in it. So when I take that first bite of avocado toast, pick up beets from the market, happen upon a recipe involving matcha, or check out a new cookbook from the library, I definitely think of Grace. You best believe that when I discovered a recipe for chocolate cake with prunes, I declared it the perfect birthday cake for this friend.
This chocolate cake with prunes is just another reminder of how rich our friendship truly is.
adapted from David Lebovitzprunes – 6-oz, diced
black tea – 1/3 cup
rapadura – 1 tablespoon
semisweet chocolate chips – 12-oz
unsalted butter – 12 tablespoons
eggs – 6, separated
sea salt – pinch
granulated sugar – 3 tablespoons
Bake @325 for 35 minutes or until the edges are set with the center soft and moist. Cool on a wire rack.
Yield one 9-inch cake.
It emerged from the oven puffed and proud. It couldn’t be any taller without climbing out of the springform pan. It crackled and cooed, not unlike toasted almonds when you leave them to cool or a boisterous fire, snapping in the darkness. This cake itself was quite dark. I looked away for a second to shuffle about the kitchen and when my eyes landed back on the cake, it had sunken considerably and now looked more like a slouched, wrinkled puddle. I wanted to see just how puddly it was by testing the middle with my finger, but if it is liquid (gosh, I hope) I wanted it to stay that way until the birthday girl cut into it.
While baking, it filled the house with a fog of cocoa. I ran downstairs just to breathe different air, only to return to my apartment and drink in the smells. I could meditate to that smell and I would do it with the faintest, unconscious smile prickling my lips, like when you see a strollered baby blabbering in an underwater garble of saliva.
I tried to explain this to Grace, but I figured that if we took the first bite together, she would know everything. That’s all it took before the focus shifted onto our separate slices of cake and we each scooped at them in delicious quiet, looking up at each other and scrunching our entire bodies in a giggled happy dance of sorts.
To chocolate cake and 21 years.