"Yes; but cakes have such a terrible habit of turning out bad
just when you especially want them to be good," sighed Anne,
setting a particularly well-balsamed twig afloat.
"However, I suppose I shall just have to trust to Providence
and be careful to put in the flour."
I have had my share of cooking disasters, including (but not limited to) the molten lava enchiladas I made for my dyspeptic grandmother, the crystallized Christmas fudge that felt like sand on your tongue, and the pecan pie of 1996. Oh that pie, that miserable pie. It was my first Thanksgiving as a newlywed, and I insisted on bringing a pecan pie to my in-laws' because I wanted to impress my husband's mother (aka the world's greatest lover of pecan pie). I showed her alright. I smirked a self-satisfied grin when she saw my gorgeous pie and duly fawned over its presentation. It was beautiful, with its perfectly congruent pecans that radiated in perfect circles from the center of the pie. But then she tried to actually eat it. Apparently, if you overcook corn syrup, sugar, and butter, you can turn out your own batch of homemade concrete. Beautiful, congruent, radiating concrete. As she stuck a knife into the pie to cut the first piece, she met with some resistance. With a little heave and a grunt, she wedged the knife down hard into the center of the pie. When she tried to remove the knife to make another stab at it, the entire filling came out in one perfect solid mound. She stood there with my pie filling on the end of her knife looking like Mary Poppins holding an umbrella---an umbrella made of pecans. "Oh dear," she whispered.
It took me 12 more Thanksgivings to get up the guts to try another pecan pie. The fact is, sometimes the kitchen conspires against us, and sometimes the mealtime muse never arrives. Luckily for those of us trying to impress guests, there are a few recipes that you simply can't get wrong. This cake is one of them. My mom made this cake for Miriam and I growing up, and after two generations of wowing crowds, it is still going strong. It is the perfect tea/snack cake with its moist, dense texture and rich taste. If only Anne and Marilla had one of these lovelies on hand as a backup when the minister and his wife were ready for dessert. (And if only my mother-in-law loved chocolate chips as much as pecans . . . )
Chocolate Chip Applesauce Cake
Cream the following:
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter
15 oz can of applesauce
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cloves
Mix until well blended and add:
2 1/2 cups flour
Pour into a greased and floured 9x13 pan.
Sprinkle the top of the batter with the following:
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 package of chocolate chips
Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes or until a knife comes out clean in the center of the cake.
Let cool and slice into squares or bars.
Many happy and successful cooking endeavors to you all!