Sonny Boy's 12th birthday is Monday. Since we just moved to Gboro a few months ago, I promised he could have a sleepover party for his bday. Last night was the night. Four other little 11/12 year olds came to our home, and slept out in a tent in the backyard. They were actually all well-behaved, and their conversation consisted of "fart" sounds and jokes, discussions of the best video games, and the awful teachers they had.
But the saga of the bday party started for me several days before. For some time now, Sonny Boy's favorite cake has been a plain yellow one with caramel icing. (thank heavens - one that I can resist) This has been fairly easy to make. One can find a yellow cake mix box anywhere, and the Ingles in Asheville carried a wide variety of tubs of icing, including caramel.
So I go to the local Harris Teeter a few days ago. It's an older one, without the selection of a larger, newer store - but it's good enough. I was surprised at the small selection of icings - chocolate, vanilla, cream cheese, sprinkles, and coconut pecan. When the cashier asked the usual, "Did you find everything okay today?", I told her about the lack of frosting selection. She suggested the TajMateeter. I tried some other various stores before heading to the ultradelux store of them all - with no luck. The selections were all about the same. So on Thursday night (the night before making the cake), I head to the TajMateeter - and only find chocolate, vanilla, cream cheese, sprinkles, and coconut pecan. (What on earth is it with coconut pecan?!) I find a clerk, and am told this is the selection. I start to point out all the varieties missing - caramel, lemon, strawberry, orange burst. The list could go on and on! What does Bob Ingle know that HT doesn't? Do little old church ladies in the mountains make a wider variety of cakes than the average soccer mom? Are people so obsessed in this town with college hoops that cakes are only chocolate or vanilla? And even if that's the case, don't you need orange burst icing to make a basketball cake for when Duke wins the tourney? (I know, I know - you can put food coloring in vanilla frosting.)
So - I had to make caramel frosting from scratch. Hours and hours of my day Friday slaving over the stove and trying various recipes. It was an ugly, ugly cake. I was back at HT yesterday (the average one) looking for something to help. I felt Mommy guilt and thought about buying a whole new cake. And then I thought about lessons of trying to buy someone's love, about how something homemade is more meaningful than something store-bought, about how it's the thought that counts, etc. (And it's not like my mom never made an ugly cake or tried to pass off liver as beef tips - seriously.) So I just got some vanilla ice cream, some caramel syrup and some chocolate syrup to add to Ugly Cake. Sonny Boy knew it was an ugly cake - but they all seemed to like it.
Next year - I'll remember to make a stop at Ingles when I'm in Asheville over Christmas.