I like a lot of “embarrassing” food. I woke up today, and the first thing I ate were leftover chicken wings from the night before. I think spam and eggs are pretty much the only things that belong on a breakfast sandwich, and anything characterized less as “cheese” and more as “cheese product” gets my immediate seal of approval. My friends are beautiful, wonderful people who like coconut butter, and and heirloom tomatoes. But my best friend, my very, very best friend, loves hotdogs, and chili in a can, and tater-tots. And that’s why ours is a friendship built to last.
I met Cynthia my freshman year at college when we had every single class together. She was brilliant, and so nice, and really funny and she loved food. We spent our first year at school baking cakes together for people’s birthday’s, ordering Chinese food and pizza to eat in our dorm rooms while we watched Netflix movies, and eating ice cream sandwiches at every meal in the dining hall (in retrospect, I feel as though I should be ashamed of this, but to this day I’m still impressed by our ingenuity).
Sophomore year we moved off campus, got a kitchen and a car and everything just got better. We went out to pick crabs, to eat pho, to get donuts at 2 in the morning. And never once would Cynthia say, “No, it’s too late” or “No, I don’t like seafood”. She loves food like I love food. She respects food, and the people who make it, and the traditions that surround it. She was excited that I had started this blog while she was home during the summer, and I was excited to finally make her a part of it, and here we are.
Most people, if I told them, “lets put soda in a cake and then decorate it with cherries that bear more of a resemblance to plastic than to any fruit I know of” would lecture me about high-fructose corn syrup. Not Cynthia. Cynthia knows just as well as I do that Coke is a treat, and that a cake that embodied the best of all Coke products, Cherry Coke, would be amazing and was something that we should have been eating five minutes ago. And here is the product of our labors.
I baked the cake and made the frosting. Both things are fun to do. The cake itself is moist and fluffy from the buttermilk, and lightly caramel flavored from the Coca-Cola. The frosting gets its lovely light pink color from the juice inside the jar of cherries and is flecked with red from the cherries. It’s just a fun cake. It’s Coke and cherries, its cake and frosting, its pink and unnatural looking. It tastes like everything the Cherry-Coke-drinking and Dorito-eating you from 2001 wants in a food.
Cynthia decorated the cake beautifully because, among her various other talents she can also make a damn fine icing rose. In all honesty, without her this blog would have never seen a cake, because my idea of cake decorating is much more inline with the “glob on the icing and mush it around until it covers on all the cake parts” school of thought. So, go! Get your best friend and eat some junk food and make this cake! Sing along to the Black Eyed Peas and do the electric slide while the cake layers are cooling. And if your best friend starts to talk about “calories” or “fat being bad for you” or says anything about the Black Eyed Peas “not being good music”, then I’ll just add it to the long list of reasons why your best friend will never be as great as mine.
Cherry Coke Cake
Coca-Cola Cake (adapted from this recipe)
1 c Coca-Cola
1/2 c buttermilk
1 c butter softened
3/4 c sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 t vanilla extract
2 c all-purpose flour
1/4 c cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 c miniature marshmallows
Maraschino Cherry Buttercream (adapted from this recipe)
1 c unsalted butter, room temperature
4-8 c powdered sugar (If you prefer a thicker frosting, add more powdered sugar.)
7 T liquid from a jar of maraschino cherries
1 T vanilla extract
10 minced maraschino cherries
To make the cake
1. Combine Coca-Cola and buttermilk; set aside.
2. Beat butter at low speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add sugar; beat until blended. Add egg and vanilla; beat at low speed until blended.
3. Combine flour, cocoa, and soda. Add to butter mixture alternately with cola mixture; begin and end with flour mixture. Beat at low speed just until blended.
4. Stir in marshmallows. Pour batter into 2 9” circular cake pans. Bake at 350° for 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from oven; cool completely.
To make the frosting
5. Mix butter and 4 cups powdered sugar until the mixture looks like frosting.
6. Mix in the cherry liquid and vanilla extract. Add more sugar half a cup at a time until you get a frosting consistency you like (I like thick frosting, so I used more in the 8 cup range of powdered sugar)
7. If you plan on making cake roses, set aside some of this frosting and add a little more pink food coloring to distinguish it from the rest of the frosting you will use on the cake. (You have to do this because the minced cherries won’t be able to make it through a piping bag tip! We found this out the hard way.
8. Fold in minced cherries.
9. Frost cake. Or get your really talented best friend to frost it for you.