Last night as I talked with my sister on the phone, I sat outside with the darkness descending around me and watched the fireflies come out. I’ve never outgrown my fascination with the blinking bugs. And while they hold an uncanny resemblance to the blinking lights on my computer modem, that’s not what they bring to mind right away. Fireflies remind me of visiting my grandparents in the summer, where we’d enjoy afternoon walks to the pebbly beach of Lake Michigan and running up and down my grandpa’s wheelchair ramp to the kitchen door. I’m reminded of drop doughnuts and buttered toast dripping with homemade strawberry jam for breakfast and evenings spent around bowls of ice cream, baseball on the radio, and chasing the fireflies with canning jars in hand. I’m reminded of listening to my mom laughing with my grandma as we jumped and ran, almost catching the elusive bits of light, of those rare times she let us stay up late and bring jars of bugs into the house. These are the times when I miss her, when I miss being able to take my girls to my parents’ house and let them stay up late, catching fireflies and hearing my mom laugh. There are still things I’d like to tell her.
A little over a year ago I went to my dad’s and helped sort through stuff, coming away with a large bag of cookbooks and cooking magazines. It took me ten months and a major move to make sure I sorted through that bag. It was fun, though, and I found some recipes that are on my to-do list. And now a little over a year later, I opened the cookbook I brought home with me and made a variation on a recipe I remember fondly. It’s a recipe that my parents used in the dead of winter, but after coming through a week of unseasonably hot weather, I found that it truly is a summer-worthy one, too. It’s perfect for an evening of sitting and watching the fireflies come out. And I’m sure my mom would agree.
It’s not the prettiest cake to look at, but it’s easy, quick, and delicious.
Because I was out of peanut butter, this time around I thought I’d try a variation not in the book with ingredients I had on hand — chocolate mint. The full recipe is below; I cut the recipe in half because it was an after-the-girls-are-in-bed treat. Next time I cut it in half I think I’ll try keeping the “sauce” part in full proportion so there’s more to spoon over ice cream.
Chocolate Mint Pudding Cake
adapted from Betty Crocker’s Microwave Cookbook
- 1 cup flour
- ¾ cup sugar
- 2 Tbsp. cocoa
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- ¼ tsp. salt
- ½ cup milk
- 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
- 1 cup chocolate chips or mint-chocolate chips
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 1/2 – 1 tsp. peppermint extract (adjust according to how minty you want it)
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- ¼ cup cocoa
- 1-3/4 cups hot water
- Ice cream
Mix flour, sugar, 2 Tbsp. cocoa, baking powder, and salt in a 2-quart microwavable casserole dish. Stir in milk, peanut butter, oil, and vanilla until smooth.
Sprinkle with brown sugar and ¼ cup cocoa. Pour hot water over batter. Microwave uncovered on medium (50%) for 9 minutes; rotate casserole ¼ turn. Microwave on high (100%) until top is almost dry, 5 to 7 minutes longer. While warm, spoon into dessert dishes and top with ice cream. Spoon sauce over ice cream.