My friends were coming for dinner last week, so to the booze cabinet I went — for napkins to set the table, that is. I bought this cabinet a few years ago and converted it into a napkin hutch.


Even though it desperately needs rearranging and a good cleaning, my eyes went straight to the package of napkins that had never been opened. I pulled them out … 8 brand new napkins.

Hugs and Kisses …

The funny thing is, as I was cleaning and getting ready for my guests, I kept thinking about my Auntie Ellen (who passed away exactly one year ago).

I often think of her, our conversations, how she was my “entertaining mentor,” always encouraging me, interested in my life.

I was missing her tremendously before I even started setting the table!

The napkins I pulled from the hutch were the last gift Auntie bought for me. How ironic that I’d be reminded of her “hugs and kisses” on this day.

I smiled *BIG* when I figured it all out.

A hint of red – perfect for my table.

A touch of love – wrapped up in hugs and kisses.

Do you ever feel that it’s too much work to throw a dinner party and bake dessert from scratch?

Sometimes it’s easier to either delegate the dessert or to make something quick and simple. But for this dinner party I had the “time” to bake from scratch.

And I’m glad I did … because here’s where chocolate and goodness come together.

Flourless Chocolate Cake
Serves 8-10

10 oz. bittersweet chocolate
3/4 cup unsalted butter (cut into 6 pieces)
5 large egg yolks
1/4 cup + 2 T. sugar
1 T. brewed espresso
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. salt
3 large egg whites, at room temperature

Chocolate Glaze:
In microwave, on 50% power, melt 1/2 cup butter and 8 oz. bittersweet chocolate. Remove from heat and whisk in 2 T. light corn syrup, until smooth and glossy. Slowly pour the warm glaze over the center of the cake.

Preheat oven to 300. Grease the bottom of an 8-inch round cake pan and line it with parchment paper. Grease the paper and the sides of the pan.

In a double boiler, or 50% power in a microwave, combine chocolate and the 3/4 cup butter and melt; set aside to cool slightly.

In a large bowl beat together the egg yolks, 1/4 cup sugar, coffee (cooled), vanilla, and salt until very pale and thick. Gradually pour in the chocolate mixture and continue beating until well blended.

In a clean bowl, using a mixer, beat the egg whites until foamy. Gradually add the remaining sugar and continue to beat until medium-firm peaks form.

Scoop half of the egg whites onto the chocolate mixture and fold them in gently. Fold in remaining whites just until no streaks remain.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread it out evenly.

Make sure and take a quick “taste.”

Bake the torte until it puffs slightly and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out very moist but not liquid, about 35 minutes. Do not overcook! Cool on a rack for 30 minutes.

Run a small knife around the inside of the pan to loosen the cake, then invert onto a flat plate. Lift off the pan and carefully peel off the parchment paper. Let cool completely. Cover and refrigerate until very cold, at least 4 hours or overnight.

Glaze the cake with the WARM chocolate glaze, then refrigerate again for at least 2 hours.

Option: As you can see, I have a lot of glaze on my cake. You can put the cake on a wire rack with a plate underneath it, when pouring the glaze on top, and the excess will run through to the plate.

Delicious – every bite!

Are you a chocolate lover?

Have you ever thought about a person, and then a situation like my “napkin” story happened to you?

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