Gluttonous Geekery & Chocolate Sin Cake
Thursday was my first full day at con and boy was it a smorgasbord of nerdvana. I woke up early, around 5AM, and started my day with a run followed by the long process of hair, make up and suiting up. Black Canary emerged from the bathroom around 7:30 AM and left the hotel around 8AM. I wanted to get into that convention hall the moment it opened to try and get a Fringe Fedora. Alas they were not being handed out that morning…or any of the other total 7 times I went by the Fox booth that day. Damn.
From there I roved the floor with a friend from college, a sorority sister actually, who was walking the floor in her 11th Doctor Crossplay. We were the sonic duo: scream and screwdriver. Scream and Screwdriver sounds dirty….anyway. The floor was packed and yet we managed to make it through the throng only to discover that the book signing I’d been so convinced was at 11AM was not until Saturday. I have no idea how my wires got crossed like that. I was understandably bummed because Saturday, like Friday, was going to be a big panel day for me. Getting in and out of panels for other things takes some serious coordination. Thankfully there was a second signing later in the day right before my Booth Babe gig so I made plans to hit that.
In the meantime I mostly walked the floor ala Black Canary taking photos / being photographed. I also picked up all of the new Doctor Who/Star Trek crossover comics and found out when the signing was planned for on Saturday. That one worked out well since it followed the Geek and Sundry panel I was pushing to go to.
I raced back to my hotel, thank god for being downtown this year, and switched out of Black Canary into clothes for later that night. First though I had to get Mira Grant’s autograph — she wrote a zombie series called “NewsFlesh” and I will elucidate on this subject in a future blog post as her book Deadline is the next edition of my Hugo Awards Challenge. I got it, she was charming and then I raced down to the Geekscape booth to work as a rep for Space Command! What is Space Command? Oh I’m so glad you asked….
[Enter: Booth Babe Olivia]
Olivia: Space Command is an amazing new set of scifi films being independently backed via KickStarter. The project is brainchild of Marc Zicree, a seasoned writer whose credits include Star Trek, Babylon 5, Twilight Zone and Sliders and who worked in the past with Ray Bradbury. Doug Jones, Amber Benson and Armin Shimerman are all working with him on this project which is getting attention and love from Neil Gaiman and Guillermo del Toro!
It was fun. I got to meet Marc and the guys running the GeekScape booth were pretty awesome. Add it to your RSS if you don’t already read the blog. I had a lively discussion with them about the new Spiderman flick.
I went straight from the booth to meet up with friends for w00tstock aka the greatest night of standup comedy, music and geekery you will ever experience. Ever. Well first we went to dinner which my dear friend Chris abruptly departed in order to run, in full suit as we were going out this particular evening in Barney Stinson regala, to run a full mile to the convention hall trying to snag a crochet doll batman of which there was only one to be obtained. He arrived only moments too late behind a young woman from texas and was heartbroken. Damn you con!
Back to w00tstock: I wrote down the entire program but rattling that off to you would probably be as interesting as watching that girl from twilight try to act. The highlights included: Levar Burton singing the theme song to Reading Rainbow, Paul and Storm singing a song entreating “George Lucas please fucking stop”, a giant set of googley eyeb(.)(.)bies on Bonnie Burton, Will Wheaton telling adorable stories about his marriage, a ted talk on Copyright Math, more amazing geeky music by artists like the DoubleClicks and Marian Call and finally mythbuster Adam Savage regaling a crowd with tales about that great unifier: poop.
It was a rick-roll-ickingly good time that was followed by the Geek and Sundry party where I enjoyed myself to the point of biblical inebriation in the presence of a dancing Joss Whedon, Rod Roddenberry, Brea Grant, Mythbusters, BSG hunks…you name the “OMG it’s geek god ____” and they were there.
Heavenly and oh so wicked at the same time, though the hangover that ensued was entirely the latter. I basically gorged myself this day on alcohol and geekgasms so the only recipe I could even consider pairing with these stories is for a favorite of mine. Dorie Greenspan refers to these as Chocolate Cinnamon Squares. BORING. It’s a Chocolate Sin-namon Cake that I must always resist the urge to devour entirely whenever I make it. It’s essentially a butter cake flavored with cinnamon with a coffee chocolate cinnamon vein running through it and a bittersweet frosting. I know right?
aka Chocolate Cinnamon Squares from Dorie Greenspan’s “Baking from my home to yours”
For the cake:
- 1 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
- 5 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 1/2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons double-acting baking powder
- Pinch of salt
- 3/4 cup whole milk
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 stick plus 2 tablespoons (10 tablespoons; 5 ounces) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 3 ounces finely chopped bittersweet chocolate or 1/2 cup storebought mini chocolate chips
For the frosting:
- 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
- 2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
Getting ready: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter an 8-x-8-inch baking pan and line the bottom of the pan with parchment or wax paper. For easy transportability, place the pan on a lined baking sheet (page 000). Stir 2 tablespoons of the sugar, 2 1/2 teaspoons of the cinnamon and the instant espresso together in a small bowl and set aside.
Working in a bowl that is large enough to hold all the ingredients, whisk together the flour, the remaining 1 1/4 cups of the sugar, the baking powder, salt and the remaining 3 teaspoons of the cinnamon. In another bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs and vanilla. Pour the liquid ingredients over the flour mixture and, still using the whisk, gently stir until you have a homogenous batter. Now, using the side of the whisk or a rubber spatula, fold in the butter with a light touch. Fold only until the butter is absorbed and you’ll have a ready-to-bake, smooth, satiny batter.
Scrape one-half of the batter into the pan and smooth the top. Sprinkle the chocolate over the batter and dust with the cinnamon-sugar-espresso mixture; cover with the rest of the batter and smooth the top again.
Slide the pan into the oven and bake 35 to 40 minutes, or until the cake is puffed and begins to pull away from the sides of the pan; a knife inserted into the center of the cake will come out clean. Transfer the cake to a cooling rack and let it rest for 15 minutes before unmolding it onto a rack. Peel off the paper, invert, and cool to room temperature right side up on a rack.
To make the frosting: Put the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl and fit the bowl over (but not touching) a pan of simmering water. Cook, stirring gently and often, just until the chocolate and butter melt. Be careful not to overheat the mixture – what you’re looking for is chocolate that is smooth, very shiny, thick and spreadable. (You don’t want to heat the chocolate and butter so much that they thin out. If you do, it’s not tragic – you’ll just have to leave the frosting at room temperature for a bit until it thickens a little.) Using an offset metal spatula or a table knife, spread the frosting in generous sweeps and swirls over the top of the cake; allow the frosting to set at room temperature.
Serving: Cut the cake into 9 squares, each about 2 1/2 inches on a side and serve, if you’d like, with whipped cream, crème fraîche or cold sour cream.
Storing: Wrapped in plastic, the cake will keep at room temperature for a day or two or it can be frozen for up to 2 months. It’s best to put the cake in the freezer unwrapped and then, when the frosting is firm, to wrap the cake airtight; defrost, still wrapped, overnight in the refrigerator.