Sometimes when I watch Elle playing outside, throwing damp fistfuls of mulch into the air, diving in piles of dried leaves, and making mud angels, I can’t help but marvel at (and enjoy) how different she is from the little girl version of myself. On any given day during any given year of my childhood, I would have much preferred playing dress-up to playing in the leaves, covering myself instead with fistfuls of sparkly costume jewelry rather than fistfuls of mulch, and slathering on prettily scented mud masks as opposed to making dirty mud pies. “Girly girl” is a term that would have been an appropriate descriptor of three-year-old me, and is so very far from how I would ever describe my three-year-old Elle – and I sort of love that.
Playing dress-up was (and still is, admittedly) a favorite pastime of mine when I was a little girl. I know what you must be thinking, Wow, Lauren. What a revelation! A little girl who loved playing dress-up … imagine that. But even so, while there may have been (and probably were) thousands of other little girls playing dress-up at the exact same times as me, I bet no two of us were dressed exactly alike. That’s part of the beauty of creative play, I think, and it’s a big reason why I spent so much time engaged in activities like dress-up when I was younger. It wasn’t so much about looking pretty as it was about feeling unique … a never-ending quest for originality. You might say that creating a food blog is founded in similar desires. You might.
I bet no one in the world is doing the exact same thing as me right now. I’d think this, as I hopped up and down on one high-heeled foot, crossed my eyes and stuck out my tongue. And I KNOW nobody has a chocolate locket on either …
My chocolate locket. THE chocolate locket. In all my 32 years on this earth, I’m not sure I’ve ever loved a piece of jewelry more (wedding ring excluded, of course). And this is coming from a girl with a penchant for pendants, and the like. A gift from my Grandmother, I regarded this locket as the most beautiful thing I’d ever been lucky enough to wear. I felt so grown up and lovely whenever I had it on. There was such beauty in knowing that my Grandmother had worn it … maybe to fancy parties … or on dates with my Grandfather. Imagining these romantic scenarios made that particular bauble all the more appealing to me, and infinitely precious.
I was only about seven or eight years old when she gave the locket to me, so I wasn’t exactly “courting” any boys at the time. I remember sitting on the edge of my bed and really pondering what photo to put in this most valued of pieces, this new/old locket of mine. I would have just added a friend’s photo, but I wasn’t sure which friend to choose and I didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. I also figured that I would get in big trouble if I took scissors to any family photos, so I erred on the side of caution there. The only thing I really DID know, the thing of which I was positively positive when it came to proper locket wearing, was that you were supposed to “lock” a picture inside of something that you loved very much.
Knowing this rule about lockets, I grabbed a pair of Fiskars scissors and a stack of my Mom’s magazines (Southern Living, People, Traditional Home), and I commenced my hunt for the perfect photo … the perfect chocolate photo. After much deliberation, I settled on a small picture of a slice of chocolate cake that was used in an advertisement for sour cream, of all things. It fit perfectly, I recall thinking proudly as I gazed down at my handiwork. Hence, The Chocolate Locket was born.
I don’t think I ever showed the cake photo to anyone besides my Grandmother, not so much because I was embarrassed by my odd choice, but more because I felt like there should be some sort of mystery involved … that I should conceal its identity, or something. As a fellow chocolate lover, Mimi seemed wholly approving of my photo. I remember standing before the small vanity mirror in her bedroom, watching happily as she fastened the antique clasp for me and with a single approving nod, she gave me a look of utter seriousness, pledging to never tell anyone about the chocolate in my locket. Cross my heart …
I giggled and we made our way into the kitchen to steal a few pieces of chocolate from her not-so-secret stash (it was all in the microwave), in honor of the chocolate locket, of course.
The locket featured in the photos here is a vintage one that I plan on giving to Elle one of these days, seeing as how she’s got a growing interest in the jewelry I (try to) keep hidden in my bedroom. I’ll lay down the rules for her, those of proper locket wearing, and I’ll let her know that she needs to use a photo of something that she really loves. I’m curious to see what she chooses to lock up in the little gold heart, but if I had to put money on it … I bet it will have something to do with chocolate. Because in Elle’s world, the only thing that has yet to trump a mud pie … is a chocolate one.
She gets it honest, though. When it comes to a love of all things sweet, the apple doesn’t fall far.
Single-Serving Molten Chocolate “Coffee Cup” Cake RECIPE
I find it difficult to articulate just how much I adore this recipe. The simple fact that you can make a delicious, molten, and scratch-made chocolate cake in five minutes (including cooking time) is such a happy thing to me. There are so many days/nights when I find myself wanting something sweet and decadent but I don’t want to put in the time to make an entire batch and wait for (whatever it is) to bake. This is the perfect solution. A few everyday ingredients + a few seconds in the microwave, and you’ve got a coffee mug chocolate cake that will satisfy your cravings, and then some. I have never had people respond so enthusiastically to a recipe before, so it was only a matter of time before it made its way here. This one is special, y’all. Trust me.
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons brown sugar (or white, that works as well)
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon dark cocoa powder (you can use regular cocoa powder if it’s what you’ve already got on hand)
Pinch of salt
1 tablespoon chocolate chips
Ice cream or whipped cream, for serving
In a 10-oz coffee mug, melt the butter (in the microwave, about 30 seconds or so). When the butter is melted, stir in the milk and brown sugar, using a fork (works best here, I think). Next, stir in the flour, baking powder, cocoa powder, and a pinch of salt. Add the tablespoon of chocolate chips to the center of the batter, and push down to fully submerge. (NOTE: my friend Jane mentioned that she tried this recipe with peanut butter chips and that it was also really nice, so you could mix it up and try a small caramel, some white chocolate chips, maybe even a small candy bar? Oh the possibilities …)
Microwave the cake for 33 seconds and serve right away (with ice cream!). Now, it is important to note that there is a big difference between microwaves and that it might take some fiddling to figure out the best cook time for your cake. One second can make all the difference, and in my microwave, 32 seconds isn’t quite enough and 34 is a bit too long. So, I suggest starting with 33 seconds adjusting your time as needed. Enjoy!