While the idea of a pot-luck surprise birthday party for a friend sounded like a fun idea, I must say that I was antsy when I learned that I was assigned to make a cake. That’s right; make a cake. Not bring. Make.
I don’t cook. Especially not anything that has to look nice and be eaten by others.
So I was elated when I found this recipe on-line (30-minute desserts for dummies dot com): Brownies, caramel topping, instant pudding, cool whip. Layer everything three times, sprinkle with chocolate chips. Serve in a glass bowl so layers will show.
Sounded easy enough.
The party started at 3 pm, so I skipped lunch, and thought I’d get an early start. Very proud of my forethought. Here’s how it went:
Drive to grocery store to pick up ingredients.
Stare at 27 different types of brownie mix. Choose one with icing. Decide to use icing instead of caramel topping.
Decide to write a petition to makers of instant pudding to remove word ‘instant’ from box of ingredients that require cooking skills. Buy 6 cups of ready-made pudding instead.
Organize everything on counter.
Drive back to grocery store to buy eggs.
Turn oven to 350°F. Mix ingredients. Lick bowl without worrying about raw eggs in batter. Batter has consistency of gravel. Re-mix ingredients.
Measure pan. Find bigger pan.
Pan in oven. Turn on timer. Check e-mails, blogs, Facebook. Eat icing.
Remove pan from oven. Stare at wet batter.
Re-read directions on box of brownie mix. Confused about 'altitude'.
Find 'bake' button on oven.
Drive back to grocery store to pick up toothpicks and another box of brownie mix with icing. Run into friend who just heard about book. Sell book. Same friend tells me no toothpicks are needed to check batter. A sharp knife will do the same trick. Also tells me what everyone we’ve ever known in common has been up to, and a few that we don’t.
Return to a smoke-filled home, with smoke detector screaming. Grateful for new box of brownie mix, and that nobody's home.
Explain to the nice ADT person who rings, that ‘Yeah, I’m really that stupid’ and ‘Thank you, I’m aware that I could’ve bought a cake’.
Start over. Already late, so turn oven to 450 instead.
Call friends to apologize for tardiness. ‘No, I haven’t forgotten that it starts at 3 pm, and that it’s a 15-minute drive.’
Take second batch of brownies out of the oven. Scrape off burnt crust. Burn fingers. Spread on frosting.
Watch frosting liquidize.
Re-re-read directions of box of brownie mix. ‘Cool completely before icing’. That’s right; Cool in bold.
Set hairdryer to cool pan. Hairdryer doesn’t have ‘cool’ setting.
Set fan to cool pan. Eat a cup of pudding while pan cools.
Eat a second cup of pudding.
Pan still hot. Decide it’s the thought and effort that count, and start icing anyway.
Re-read recipe: ‘Serve in glass bowl, so layers will show’.
Realize don’t own a glass bowl. Decide to ask neighbor for a glass bowl.
Neighbor isn’t home.
Throw out wilted flowers, rinse vase, and start layering.
Brownies still hot. Icing now running all over fingers and the sides of the vase. Layers do not show. Everything is covered in sticky icing.
Run out of pudding.
Cool whip has the consistency of milk and chocolate chips are melting. Stare at a flower vase filled with chocolate milk with lumps.
Drive back to grocery store. Buy cake. Mess up frosting, and pass it off as home-made.
Arrive at party. Vow never to attempt cooking again.
Causes Anne Harper Supports
Doctors without Borders. SPCA. American Cancer Society.