I often say that my first born daughter made me realize I was destined to be a mother — but my second born son made me delight in the role. As with most women, I suppose, I had a hard time adjusting to motherhood. You know the drill — the nursing, the lack of sleep, the caring, the balancing with working, the cleaning. But also, the solitary confinement. The worry. The feeling of being solely responsible for so much. The desire to go and do — but the struggle to actually go and do whatever it is you used to go and do. The anger and resentment toward my husband who went and did.
When they say that becoming a mother is like having your heart walk around outside of your body, they do not lie. I felt that way about my daughter from the minute she showed up in my world. My love for her was like nothing I ever knew. But for the first few years, I was stressed in my new role as a mother. It was difficult and I was not prepared for anything other than unicorns and rainbows.
Things eased up a bit when I was thankfully able to quit my job (my baby girl was 3). Being able to focus solely on her was a huge blessing and a major relief. It made me feel like I was actually able to be a good mother. And please don’t go all “mommy wars” on me here — this is only my experience and there are many tremendous working mothers. But for me, I’m an all or nothing kind of girl. When I was working, I felt like I couldn’t do anything well because my attention was so divided. When I became a full time mom, I finally felt like I could be good at something again — and my personality thrives on feeling proud of the job that I am doing, regardless of what it is.
And I think this confidence made me feel like I could have a second baby. When I became pregnant, I felt like I was prepared for it all. I knew the drill. And in some ways, I did. But, I was wholly unprepared for how my second baby would make me feel as a mother. He made my feel like we had a complete family. My baby boy made me delight in my role as a mother. It felt natural. And rather than stressing about how much work it all was, I found a way to enjoy the little moments — by now knowing how fleeting they all were.
So, last week my baby boy turned three. Maxy, my Star Wars loving, chocolate eating-dare devil, you have made our family complete and we love you so much. Thank you for making me a better mother. I hope you liked your chocolate birthday cake.
Here’s the recipe. It’s whole grain, light on sugar, and even the ganache is relatively healthy — not that you should really care about these things on a birthday.
Whole Grain Chocolate Layer Cake with Chocolate Cinnamon Ganache
Makes a two layer cake and enough ganache to glaze the cake (with some leftover for ice cream)
5 oz. good quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened (1 1/2 sticks)
1 cup brown sugar (can use up to 2 cups if you want)
4 eggs, at room temperature
2 t vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream (not low fat)
1 cup boiling water
18 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 1/2 cups milk (I used 2%, but use whatever you like — even cream if you want)
4 T butter
Pinch of salt
1/8 t cinnamon
1 t vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Butter two 8 or 9 inch cake pans. Line with parchment cut to fit the bottom of the cake pans. Butter the parchment paper.
2. Melt the 5 oz. of chopped chocolate and allow to cool slightly.
3. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
4. In a large bowl, cream the softened butter with an electric mixer until it is light and fluffy. Add brown sugar and cream for 1-2 minutes.
5. Add the eggs, one at a time and mix for 1-2 minutes more. Mix in the melted chocolate and vanilla extract.
6. Mix in one third of the flour mixture, followed by one third of the sour cream. Repeat with additional flour and sour cream (adding in one thirds). Do not overmix at this point.
7. Stir in boiling water and mix until smooth. Pour batter into prepared cake pans and bake for 24-26 minutes until a tester comes out just barely done. Do not overbake. Let cool for 10-15 minutes on a rack and then remove cakes from pans and let cool completely on rack.
8. For ganache: In a large sauce pan over low heat, melt together the 18 oz. chocolate, milk, butter, salt, and cinnamon. When completely smooth, remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract. Let cool until almost room temperature and slightly thickened, but still pourable. Pour over cake layers when cake is completely cool, allowing it to fall over edge to glaze sides. Let ganache cool and harden before serving.