They sat around me, their forks poised for entry into the decadent chocolate mousses from the specialty Costa Mesa Japanese bakery, Cafe Blanc. My heart lurched with envy as I watched each of my family members begin to tear through the chocolate ganache robe to reach the satiny center within the individual-sized Miroir cakes. I groped for my glass of Syrah and looked away in desperation when they marvelled over the ribbon of creme brulee and raspberry puree snaked through the center of the dessert. It was almost too much to bear and for a moment, I feared I might break down and give up on my commitment to not eat chocolate during Lent. It was my brother's birthday after all -- God would understand if I cheated a little, right?
I pushed away my debaucherous thoughts and stared down to contemplate the dessert on my plate -- a slice of carrot cake from my favorite bakery, SusieCakes. It had been a struggle to make the decision to purchase this particular slice earlier in the day. The celebration cake, a multi-layered vanilla cake studded with sprinkles and enrobed in sweet buttercream frosting, had put up a worthy fight for my attention. As did the tropical coconut cake with its smattering of pineapple chunks and over-the-top layers of coconut-laced frosting. And then the bake shop girl had to mention that their strawberry cupcake is Martha Stewart's favorite strawberry cupcake in the country. Did she not realize that she was talking to the most indecisive orderer on the planet?
Probably, after it took me another five (or ten) minutes to finally settle on a slice of their "famous" carrot cake, a three-layer monstrosity filled with layers of pecan praline and covered in soft peaks of cream cheese frosting. As I turned to leave, I couldn't resist adding on a small sugar cookie sandwich with strawberry buttercream frosting. Because I was being so "good" and all by not eating chocolate...
Despite the appetizing appearance of my cake (before I demolished it by trying to slice the absurdly large piece in half), I was still somewhat dismayed by my inability to join in with the rest of my family as they ate their chocolate mousses. I couldn't help but feel left out.
Until, of course, I took a bite of the carrot cake.
As I forked the moist, yet fluffy, carrot-flecked cake into my mouth, I was struck silent by how good it was. The interplay of the ample walnut pieces, sweet praline filling and tangy cream cheese frosting against the spiced cake was nothing short of rub-my-belly phenomenal. I scraped my plate clean and immediately went back to the box to lob off another hunk. On the car ride back to my parents' house, I couldn't stop raving about the cake, and the next day, proceeded to broadcast the news to my dear friend Ashley, who shares my appreciation for carrot cake (after a few cocktails, we used to devour head-sized slices with our friend Caroline in college).
Today, I am still dreaming up ways to justify treating myself to another slice of the glorious cake that I have already deemed worthy of a presense at my wedding (if, as my dad says, someone "finds [me]"). Maybe I can eat a slice as a celebration for making it to the weekend? Or to honor another two weeks without chocolate? Or maybe just because I'm worth it.
At least I am until I can't zip up the fly on my new Joe's Honey jeans...