step 1: find recipe
this is more or less easily accomplished. serious eats always has fantastic ideas, as does epicurious. having found the perfect chocolate cake recipe, it is very important to note the ingredients.
step 2: procure ingredients
i plan to use scharffenberger chocolate for this cake since i know i like it, i know i can get it at dominicks (assuming i can reach it - it is on the top shelf), and this cake is destined to be a dream cake, one that will have my friend climbing over themselves to be in my good graces. the bittersweet chocolate for the ganache - well, i'll be at the mercy of the dominicks gods, since i'm too lazy to head over to newleaf for guaranteed good chocolate. the last questionable item is the beer. i am supposed to use stout and i do have a can of guinness in my fridge (leftover from the last time i made gingerbread), but i thought i'd try to find something a bit more interesting.
i wanted to get some chocolate stout, but the good people at hahn's liquor store did not seem to have any. so i got a breckenridge vanilla porter instead. which leads to -
step 3: taste-test ingredients
i had not tried the vanilla porter (actually, i've never had any of breckenridge's brews until today), and i am enjoying it. it's very nice and dark, a bit toasty, a bit chocolatey (perfect) and just a hint of vanilla on the finish. it smells of vanilla more than it tastes of it, but that doesn't really bother me. for the cake, i think it will be rather nice, since it is a bit smoother than the guinness. on the other hand, it is just a bit lighter than guinness and i worry just a bit that it might not provide the lush richness a deeper stout might. so,
step 4: worry that the ingredients won't be quite good enough
if i don't use the right beer, will it matter if i use good cocoa? if i don't use great chocolate for the ganache, will it matter if i chose the right beer? if the whole thing turns out ok, but not great, will it even have mattered that i went to the trouble? would they all be just as happy if i brought duncan hines smeared with boxed frosting? of course, this collapse of certainty leads to only one thing:
step 5: nihilism
nothing really matters, does it?
step 6: despair
if i can't make the world's most luscious chocolate cake, what good can i possibly be? how can i justify my existence?
step 7: epiphany
existence, eh? right. ok. existence is produced through the taking-up and completion of projects. so the cake doesn't have to be perfect to justify my existence, it just has to be completed.
step 8: faith
and really, how bad will it be after all? i mean, it's chocolate cake. two of the most beautiful words in the english language.
step 9: action