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Order the Cake: Slowing down to savor it

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ENJOY THE CAKE Even Queen Elizabeth – one of the busiest people in the world – made time to slow down and savor a favorite treat. (Illustration:

Hooray, you’ve made it through 2023 and the crazy holiday season! It is true that, in typical January fashion, we have been discussing healthy recipes in this issue and how they are going to help us power through our New Year’s goals and resolutions. Yay!

Still, we are living real life here. And a lot can be said for “balance” being a big part of “healthy.”

In a circuitous way, that’s kind of what John Stamos was trying to say in his new book If You Would Have Told Me: A Memoir. No, this is not a book on how to live your best life; it’s a memoir from the Full House TV heartthrob Uncle Jesse. But his “order the cake” lesson could be Number One on a list of how to live your best life.

In the book, Stamos (who, besides being everyone’s crush in the ‘80s, is also an accomplished Broadway actor, musician, and now a bestselling author) shares the story of the last time he saw his best friend and TV brother, comedian Bob Saget (Danny Tanner in Full House). 

In a November book release interview with Willie Geist on Sunday Today, Stamos recalls his last dinner with Saget: “We’re always in a hurry,” Stamos said. “You never think This is the last time I’m going to see my best friend. 

“That night, we’re with our wives, we were like How did two saps like us get lucky enough to have these two beautiful – inside and out – women? I was thinking We got to go, and then he said Let’s order the cake.”

So they ordered the cake, and coffee, too, and everyone took just a little more time that night to sit and visit. It was the last time the best friends saw each other. Saget passed away suddenly in March of 2022 after a head injury resulting from a fall.

“When you’re with someone you love, that you care about,” Stamos told Geist, “slow down, take it easy, order the cake.” And that’s the one story Geist said he would remember over all the others in the book.

Busy-ness is everywhere. Carpools, deadlines, meetings, housework. Making a point of slowing down to listen and appreciate each other – and the cake – can feel almost impossible.

But even the late Queen Elizabeth, who, as a 90-year-old, carried out 306 engagements in a year (21,000 in her lifetime), found time for the cake.

Her favorite was a simple, no-bake confection combining rich tea biscuits (similar to graham crackers) with chocolate. She would have a small slice with tea in the afternoon, and another the next day, and again until the cake was gone. Queen Elizabeth so loved the cake that it would travel with her from palace to palace so that she could savor it as long as it would last.

Queen Elizabeth – one of the world’s busiest people – found time for the cake. Maybe with Stamos and Saget as reminders, we will too.

Queen Elizabeth’s Favorite Chocolate Biscuit Cake

from A Royal Cookbook: Seasonal Recipes from Buckingham Palace

For the cake: ½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature, plus extra for greasing
½ cup sugar
4 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons warm water
8 ounces rich tea biscuits or graham crackers, broken into small (almond-sized) pieces

For the ganache: 8 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
½ cup heavy cream

Special equipment: 6-inch-by-2 ½-inch cake ring or springform pan

Lightly grease the cake ring or springform pan with butter, and place on a baking sheet on top of a sheet of parchment paper.

Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Melt the 4 ounces of dark chocolate either in the microwave (in 30-second spurts, stirring in between) or in a double boiler, and add to the butter mixture, beating to combine. Beat in the water, then fold in the biscuit pieces to coat with chocolate.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared cake ring or springform pan. Carefully but firmly push the mixture down with the bottom of a drinking glass to create an even texture. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

Place the 8 ounces chopped chocolate into a bowl. In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring the cream to a simmer, then pour it over the chopped chocolate, stirring until the chocolate melts and the ganache is smooth.

Remove the cake from the refrigerator and from the cake ring or springform pan. Place it on a wire rack with a tray beneath to catch the excess ganache. Carefully pour the warm ganache over the cake, smoothing it with an offset spatula. Allow the cake to sit at room temperature to set. 

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