When planning dessert, I often gloss over the chocolate cake. Is it too decadent? Too simple? Not sophisticated enough? Anyone can make a solid chocolate cake — even if they have to use a boxed mix!
And so I make elaborate other things, and sometimes they are even good. In adulthood, I have come to master the art of the carrot cake, for example. It takes eight hours and a vat of boiling oil, but I can make a mean vegan donut. In restaurants, I order mousses and tarts that come garnished with at least three different accoutrements, and I enjoy them. Who among us does not appreciate a berry coulis, a caramelized banana, a drizzle of caramel sauce?
Here is the thing, though — deep down, what I really want is chocolate cake. I am not alone.
Chocolate Cake Is Perfect
Chocolate cake is a truly flawless food: It is inherently simple, but can be dressed up with an infinite number of complicated variations. It is the platonic ideal of comfort food, nostalgic and indulgent at once, but it is also festive. A homemade chocolate cake can signal a reason for celebration.
They are playful; no matter how dressed up, a chocolate cake is never stiff. They can be formal, but are never oppressive in their formality. And they are a near-universal crowd pleaser — appropriate for children and beloved by adults.
So I say, give the people what they want — even if, like me, they cannot admit it to themselves. Give them chocolate cake.
Chocolate Cake Is Easy
Chocolate cake, after all, is relatively easy, as desserts go (I find desserts in general difficult; they require a patience I do not have). Chocolate cake baked from scratch is richer and more moist, with more nuanced flavors than its boxed cousin.
But the miracle is that if you are short on time, or short on interest, boxed cake mix is also totally fine. Is the texture as good? Probably not! Will anyone care? Probably not, because boxed chocolate cake mix still turns into chocolate cake, which, as we have previously established, is the perfect food.
That said, baking cake from scratch is not all that much more of a production than baking from a box, and also people will likely praise you more, which, when entertaining, is the main reason I do anything.
Chocolate Cake Pairs Well with Non-Chocolate Foods
It is true that there is a small subset of reasonable people who either do not like or cannot have chocolate for any number of reasons, and in the spirit of inclusivity, we must also strive to meet their needs. Conveniently, chocolate cake pairs exceptionally well with both berries and vanilla ice cream, which make a respectable dessert on their own. Get a pint of both and now your problem is solved — they will be happy, and you will have cake.