But let's star with cake. I'm an icing person. Cake in and of itself does not particularly interest me, but when it comes to icing, I go for the jugular (so to speak).
Subsequently, my favorite cake on the planet is grocery store-bought birthday cake. I don't care about some fancy confection from some gourmet boutique bakery, just give me a slice (a big one!) of vanilla cake from Krogers or Meijers or Giant Eagle* and I'm in icing Shangri-la. And if you don't want your icing, just scrape it off it off your slice and shoot it my way! And it all has to be vanilla. No chocolate cake for me, please, though I have been known to partake of a piece of chocolate cake in a moment of desperation (like if there's no other desset available and I'm having a sugar jones. In fact I have a funny, extremely humbling - oh heck, it was mortifying! - story about me and a piece of chocolate cake that I'll share on Monday).
*Breaking my strictly-vanilla rule, Giant Eagle does have a strawberry-filled, vanilla-iced birthday cake that is swoon-worthy.
However the one exception to my no-chocolate rule is brownies*, provided they're accompanied by vanilla ice cream and/or are iced.
*Funny, but I know a couple of fellow choco-phobes who likewise list brownies as their one exception.
Now, while you can sometimes get a good brownie icing atop a commercial or restaurant brownie, trying to find a good recipe for brownie icing is another story. The problem is that an icing that may work well with chocolate cake doesn't necessarily work well with brownies. In fact, I'm gonna just put it out there: as a rule, chocolate cake icing does not work with brownies. An icing suitable for cake will smother a brownie.
This I know by my own trial and error, because I spent years searching out an icing recipe that would work with brownies. I was like Indiana Jones searching for the Holy Grail in "Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade." I was always on the lookout for the brownie-icing recipe. I had many tries, many failures. I was like a woman possessed.
Then one day, I found it!
It was about, oh, 17 years ago at a high school graduation party at my friend Diana's house.
The party was taking place out in the backyard, but at one point I was in the kitchen talking to Diana when my eyes hit upon it: on a counter, probably the dessert left over from last night's dinner, a plastic-wrap-covered half-empty pan of brownies with a thin, dark, firm-looking icing; I locked onto those iced brownies and I could no more turn away than a heat-seeking missle locked onto its target.
"Um, Patti...would you like one of those brownies?" Asked my gracious hostess who couldn't help but notice that I was suddenly more pre-occupied with her left-over brownies than with our conversation.
"Oh," I cried, snapping out of my brownie-trance. I then explained to her my hunt (translate obsession) for the perfect brownie icing. Diana was more than happy to assist me in my quest, and offered me one of her brownies.
I thanked her and took the generous square she cut for me.
I took one bite. Unsure that I could trust love at first taste, I took another. Then another.
Eureka! The bells rang and the fireworks burst in my brain as the neural transmitters rushed the message that at last I'd found the perfect brownie icing!
And today, many years later, it's my joy to share Diana's brownie icing recipe with you:
Best Brownie Icing On The Planet
Frosts a 9x13 pan of brownies
2 cups of confectioner's sugar
1/4 cup of cocoa
1/2 of 1/3 of a cup of boiling water
2 1/2 tablespoons of butter or margarine, softened
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla
Combine the sugar and cocoa. Add the water, butter, and vanilla. Mix with a mixer until smooth. Spread the icing on the brownies right away as this icing firms up after a bit.
Enjoy and have a wonderful weekend!