I still have a ton of photos to share from our vacation. I apologize in advance if you are uninterested in seeing them. Consider my blog an updated version of the slideshow that your aunt made you sit down and flip through all of before you’re allowed to get up and have a piece of cake. I’ve even got a cake recipe for you here if you can make it through the photos. Don’t ever say that I wasn’t kind. So – North Carolina. On our last day in DC, we got up early-ish, had breakfast, then headed over to pick up our ZipCar and started the drive. I, of course, did not drive. I haven’t driven in over 4 years and the idea terrifies me now. I suppose if I moved and I had to start driving again, I could, but I’d have to take baby steps and there’s no way I would be able to just comfortably merge onto the freeway after my driving hiatus. Thankfully, my brother Dane was along for the ride to help share the driving responsibilities with Kramer. I chilled in the backseat, inserting my two-cents when it probably wasn’t needed, napping and eating pizza flavored Combos. What a life. When we finally arrived in North Carolina, we decided to stop at a farmer’s market stand before getting to the house. All of the fruit looked beautiful and I was curious to compare prices to New York (and overbuy because of said prices). We stopped at a stand and bought a ton of stuff: juicy blackberries, ripe tomatoes, a giant watermelon, pecan pie, peaches, zucchini and who knows what else. Arms full, we got to the register and because of Kramer’s New York Observer t-shirt, the first thing out of the cashier’s mouth was, “Are you from New York?” Yes, we replied. This guy then, completely unprompted, starts to name all of the boroughs and asks if he was correct (he forgot Staten Island the the Bronx, like a lot of people do, I would imagine – no big deal). After that, again, totally unprompted, he starts telling us about how he is “very conservative” and is a “big Rush Limbaugh listener” and that Limbaugh used to live in New York but then he moved to Florida and now he’s paying much lower taxes. Kramer and I stood there, said “Yeah, probably – New York is expensive..” and ran away. Ah yes – vacation, indeed.
When we got in, we were thrilled. Kramer’s dad had rented an amazing beach house in Corolla in the Outer Banks and the hot tub was calling our names. Kramer’s dad grilled up some chicken while we cracked open a few beers, then called it early in anticipation of our beach day the next morning. Kramer’s aunt Beth joked that Kramer and I put too much effort into relaxing, but I would argue that we just know the best way to relax. We sunscreen up, to maximize fun-in-the-sun time, we have beach blankets that are sturdier and bigger than ordinary towels for plenty of space, and Kramer has perfected digging out little sand beds for each of us for optimum comfort. It does take a little while for us to settle in, it’s true, but give us 30 minutes to set up and then we’re ready to enjoy a full, stress-free day at the beach. What can I say? I like good, clean, organized fun.
Another graham cracker recipe is here to greet you this morning – I don’t think anyone is going to have a problem with that. Kramer said that this cake was the best thing I’ve ever made, which I love because it was probably one of the easiest things I’ve ever made. Whip some heavy cream to make whipped cream, melt together a few ingredients to make a chocolate mocha pudding, layer everything with graham crackers and some chopped chocolate, and ta-da! The most luscious no-bake summer cake that you can imagine. Think a chocolatey, espresso-y (that’s definitely a word) banana pudding. I wouldn’t even be mad if you added bananas to this. I brought the whole thing into work and it was gone in about 5 minutes – I promise that is not an exaggeration. If you’re short on time, feel free to use Jell-O pudding and Cool Whip in place of the homemade versions – it’ll still be absolutely delicious. Make this a day before a party or barbecue and watch it disappear before your very eyes.
First day in North Carolina, relaxing by the pool.
My new favorite hat.
My brother Dane and me.
The A+ beer that Kramer’s dad’s girlfriend Jill’s parents brought for us to sample (see: drink all of).
Kramer’s masterfully grilled ribs.
Gather your ingredients.
Prepare your pudding.
Then let it chill for a bit.
Whip your cream and chop your chocolate.
Then begin assembling! It doesn’t have to be perfect.
Cover with plastic wrap and chill overnight.
Best cake ever – for real.
- 2 cups whole milk
- ½ cup sugar
- ¼ cup cocoa powder
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon finely ground coffee beans
- 2 egg yolks
- 3½ cups heavy cream
- ½ cup powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoons cooled brewed coffee
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 box graham crackers
- 1 cup chopped chocolate
- 2 tablespoons finely ground coffee beans
- Whisk together the milk, sugar, cocoa, cornstarch, vanilla and coffee beans in a medium sized pot over medium heat. Whisk until heated through.
- Whisk the egg yolks in a medium sized bowl, then add the chocolate mixture to the egg mixture, whisking constantly (this is so that the eggs don't scramble).
- Put the mixture back over heat, stir for 4-5 minutes until thickened, then chill for 1 hour.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, using the medium setting, whisk together the cream, powdered sugar, coffee and vanilla until soft peaks form, about 3-5 minutes.
- In a 9x13 inch baking dish, line the bottom with graham crackers - it doesn't have to be perfect. If you need to break some of the crackers to fit them in, go for it. Spread ⅓ of your pudding over the graham crackers, then ⅓ of the whipped cream. Sprinkle ⅓ of your chopped chocolate over the whipped cream, then sprinkle ⅓ of your ground coffee on top of that.
- Repeat this process two more times: graham crackers (press down on them so that you can fit all 3 layers), pudding, whipped cream, chopped chocolate and ground coffee, then one more layer of graham crackers, pudding, whipped cream, chopped chocolate and ground coffee, then crush some leftovers graham crackers and sprinkle that on top of the final layer, too.
- Cover your ice box cake with plastic wrap and put in the fridge for at least 12 hours. The cake will keep well for up to 3 days.