Dark Chocolate Cake with Blood Orange Frosting

My husband once tried to set me up with a very short rodeo clown named Jed.

When we first met he was dating someone else and asked me to double date with his then—girlfriend and her cousin—the aforementioned cowboy. We met at an establishment famous for their baby back ribs, and I drank a lot of tequila. Like, a lot.

No one at the table talked but me and Matt—about what I can't remember—but needless to say there was no romance with the rodeo clown. 

Several months later, Matt was single and asked me to watch his band play. He played bass in a cover band and by this point I'd begun to think he was pretty cute. So I agreed, and when I walked in and watched him jamming it was basically over—ladies, amiright?

December 2, 2006 we had our official first date.

Drinks and a snowball fight in the park. 

Since that day I've known how he's felt about me. He's always respected me, supported me, been my equal. He was supposed to graduate that December—and thanks to a royal screw-up on his adviser's part—he had to stay an extra semester.

We always joked that we would invite his adviser to our wedding—thanking him as the indirect cause for the success of our relationship—but our wedding came and went and we forgot to invite Roger.

We lived apart for a year—I eventually joined him in Kentucky—and even though that year was tough (and really expensive traveling back and forth) it made us really strong.

We've now celebrated ten birthdays together, which feels like a lot of birthdays. That's ten different cakes. The first cake I made for him was German Chocolate and was it awful. But Matt doesn't care about stuff like that. To Matt, cake is cake. He's extremely balancing to me—thank god. To me, every meal feel like it needs to be special. And to Matt, as long as it makes him full, he's grateful. I need more of him.

If I'm ever on death row—not that I can ever think of an instance why I would be—and I need to pick a last meal, they better start the conversation with me at least two weeks before I'm set to die. 

My relationship with my husband is special. He climbs giant mountains, I like my feet planted right here on the ground, thank you very much. He prefers to do a lot of research about something before making a purchase, I'm much more impulsive. He's cool under pressure, I'm more of a firecracker.

But one thing is for sure, we love each other even when when we don't. I can always count on this one person in my life to love me and laugh with me—even when life feels so completely unfunny. I can always count on him to make me pretty and loved. And I can always count on him to leave his eBay searches open so I can see what hiking boots he wants to buy, but doesn't need.

This cake, his favorite combination of flavors, is in celebration of his 32nd trip around the sun.

TO MAKE THIS CAKE YOU WILL NEED

2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup cocoa powder
1 ¾ cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
¾ cup safflower oil
1 cup strong coffee
1 cup water
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

Get prepped. I made a six-inch three-layer cake, but you can make a two-lay 9-inch cake if you'd like. This recipe has enough batter for either. Preheat oven to 325°F. Line cake pans with parchment and grease lightly with oil. 

Dries and wets; wets and dries. In a medium mixing bowl add all dry ingredients and whisk until well combined. In a large mixing bowl add wet ingredients and whisk until combined. In several additions, add the dry mixture to the wet mixture, making sure not to over mix.

Bake, bake, bake. Pour batter evenly into prepared cake pans and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool in pans for 10 minutes before turning out onto cooling rack.

FOR THE FROSTING

(This was enough for a naked cake. Frosting is not Matt's favorite. But if you like a more even cake to frosting ratio, go ahead and double it.)

8 ounces cream cheese, softened
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
3 tablespoons blood orange juice
1 tablespoon blood orange zest
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

In the bowl of an electric mixer beat cream cheese and butter until completely smooth. Beat in juice and zest and neat until well combined. With the mixer on low, beat in sugar. Gradually increase the speed on the mixer and mix until frosting is smooth. Use to frost completely cooled cakes.

Adapted from Rooted Magazine, Winter 2015.