Throughout my professional career, I’ve had the opportunity to mentor and train several interns before they branched off to establish successful careers of their own. Each had their own unique talents from many perspectives including marketing research, journalism, graphic design and business. While some might say interns are nothing more than people to do the grunt work, mine were treated well and left with a boatload of skills in their back pocket…as long as my Chai Tea Latte was on my desk when I arrived of course.
My office recently hired a new intern to help supplement the massive amount of work needed to launch a new technology product to the market. With Niki’s time is split between the marketing department I manage and the product development group, she gets pulled in a lot of directions all at once. Our launch deadline is quickly approaching and tensions tend to get heated from time to time. So to lighten the mood, we incorporate fun moments to help brighten the day.
A tradition in our office is to celebrate everyone’s birthday with a cake. So instead of the usual mound of yellow substance blanketed in a pile of colored sugar from the grocery store, I offered to bake the cake in her honor. I figured there would be no better way to say thank you for washing my car and picking up my dry cleaning than with chocolate. Plus, it would make a great story to share with all of you.
The cake was absolutely amazing and the office roared with excitement as they devoured every last piece. Even when I went to grab the empty cake pan from the conference room, a couple of software designers moaned in sadness because they couldn’t scrape the last bits of frosting.
Intern Chocolate Cake
Cake and frosting adapted from Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa at Home
1 3/4 cup flour
2 cup sugar
3/4 cup cocoa powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk, shaken
½ cup vegetable oil
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup freshly brewed coffee
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9”X13” cake pan with cooking spray. Sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In a separate medium bowl with a pour spout, lightly whisk the eggs. Add the buttermilk, vegetable oil and vanilla. Gently whisk until just combined.
Add the dry ingredients to a large mixing bowl. Slowly pour the wet ingredients into the bowl with the mixer on low. Finally, slowly add the coffee to the batter. Continue mixing until well combined. The batter will be thin. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 – 35 minutes, or until a cake tester comes clean in the center. Allow to cool before frosting.
6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, NOT chocolate chips
2 sticks butter, room temperature
1 egg yolk, room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla
1 ¼ cup powder sugar, sifted
Chop the chocolate into small pieces. Place in a heat and microwave safe bowl. Microwave the chocolate for 1 minute. Stir and microwave for an additional 30 seconds – 1 minute until the chocolate is completely melted. Allow to cool.
Beat the butter until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolk and vanilla. Continue to beat until well combined. Turn the mixer to low and slowly add the powder sugar. Then add the chocolate. Mix the frosting until completely incorporated and fluffy. Frost the cake and top with ground white chocolate chips.
Authors Note: This story is loosely based on the tasks I give interns. No, they don’t get me Chai Lattes, wash my car or pick up my dry cleaning. But their unblemished hands are perfect for keeping my shoes shinier than a new penny.