“On our 10th anniversary, we should get a canoe,” I said to Kev just before getting married. Here we are, living in the land of 10,000 lakes on our 10th anniversary, and a canoe seems like the most accurate prophesy as to where life would take us. We were living in Dallas at the time (a canoe-less place), getting ready to move to Chicago for his graduate program when I said this. I’m not sure where the canoe idea came from.
In our second week of living in Chicago as newlyweds, I begged Kev to take me out to dinner on a date. Our bank account was so empty, and I hadn’t yet secured a full-time job. And still, I romanticized dinners out with my new husband. I was young, 23 young, and playing grown-up seemed like so much fun. We’d eat outside in the middle of summer, because you could do that in Chicago (unlike Dallas), and lose track of all time. He took me out. I was so excited. And then he told me to order the cheapest thing on the menu—the $3 soup. He’d eat something when we got home.
We did premarital counseling before we said I do. I’m sure that was Kev’s idea. He also talked me into taking a childbirth and breastfeeding class before Hal came. I went into labor hours after the breastfeeding class ended. It took him 9 months to convince me to do it. One of us is more responsible than the other. In premarital therapy, Steve, our counselor, had insight into our relationship that is still so insightful 10 years later.
“Melissa,” he said, “your emotions run higher than Kevin’s. Your highs are higher than his.” Little did he know my ideas ran in the same fashion. “The distance between your two highs might make you feel like he’s not as excited. Try to appreciate his temperament in those times. And Kevin, your emotions run pretty steady,” he said as his hand cut a line straight into the office air. “You’re going to have to intentionally come a little higher to meet her excitement sometimes.”
I have to remind myself of this all the time—different isn’t bad; it’s just different. Our differences have been our biggest struggle. The cup of soup. They’ve also been our best asset. He’s everything I’m not. And the reverse is true. (Though sadly, neither of us are good planners.) He’s steady and logical and makes well thought out decisions. He washes our clothes on the weekends and takes my car in for regular oil changes. I’m a dreamer who easily gets lost in the moment, riding it as high as it’ll take me. I make dinner because I like to make things. And spend too much time designing spaces in our home because I enjoy designing. He’s the left brain to my overactive right brain. He’s a realist. And, after all these years, he’s convinced me that we don’t need to buy a canoe after all. It’s just so practical to rent one. Happy 10th Anniversary, Kev! Let’s go canoeing this weekend?
This Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake is from Kev’s birthday a couple weeks ago. It’s a cross between a cake and a cookie. I’ve reduced the amount of sugar in this recipe, which is laughable because there’s still plenty of sugar. The buttercream is one I’ll spend more time writing about soon. There’s heavy cream in the recipe which helps to stabilize it in similar ways that this cream cheese frosting works. I’ve made this cookie cake on the smaller side, because it’s not safe alone in the house with me. “Mom, where did all the cookie cake go?” I got lost in that cake too.
Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake
A Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake that's a nice balance between a cake and a cookie. It's slightly less sweet than a traditional cookie cake but every bit as good. Don't skip the sturdy buttercream. And, if you have a 4-year-old around, sprinkles are a must too.
- 2 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp. aluminum-free baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
- 1/4 c. whole milk
- 1 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- 8 tbsp. (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 c. pure cane sugar
- 1/2 c. packed brown sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 c. chocolate chips, plus more for garnish
- 8 tbsp. (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 1/2 c. powdered sugar
- 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- pinch of kosher salt
- 3-4 tbsp. heavy cream
Make the cake. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line an 8" cake pan with parchment paper cut to size. Set aside.
In a mixing bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients. Set aside. In a measuring cup, mix together the wet ingredients. Set aside.
In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugars on medium-low until pale in color and evenly incorporated. Add in the eggs and mix on medium speed until evenly incorporated and the mixture holds ribbons. Turn the speed to low and quickly alternate adding the wet and dry ingredients. Mix until just incorporated no more. Stir in the chocolate chips and pour batter into the prepared cake pan. The batter will be on the thick side.
Carefully spread the batter into an even layer, holding the parchment lining put. Bake for 22-25 minutes or until the middle of the cake is set. Remove from oven, and gently press a couple remaining chocolate chips into the top of the cake for aesthetics (optional). Allow the cake to cool for at least 20 minutes before carefully removing from the pan and onto a cooling rack.
Meanwhile, make the buttercream. In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, whip the butter and powdered sugar together on medium-high. Add in the extract and pinch of salt. Continue adding in the heavy cream 1 tablespoon at a time until desired consistency is reached. (Note: adding this much liquid seems counterintuitive, however, the whipped heavy cream will help to stabilize the buttercream, reducing the need to add more powdered sugar as a stabilizer.) Whip on high until pale and sturdy.
Pipe the buttercream around the edge of the cooled cake. Sprinkle with sprinkles if desired. Store airtight at room temperature for up to 3 days.
• If using a larger cake pan, you'll want to increase the recipe and bake for additional time.