If there was ever any doubt that I was born to play with butter, flour and sugar (and really how, could there be) my mother's recipe box is incontrovertible physical evidence of my sweet destiny. Packed inside are decades worth of recipes, by and large for pastry, that she'd torn from the pages of the Washington Post's food section.
Alongside the newsprint are hand written letters from my Omi, her mother, dense with details for German classics like Stollen and Butterzeug. My grandmother signed the bottom of each international pastry missive: Mutti, which only makes sense because a family recipe is a love letter, a message of comfort and abiding affection from one generation to another that endures long after the original baker has left us.
It's taken me years to find the courage to confront the emotional onslaught that is my mother's recipe box, every page is either laced with her handwriting or simply evidence of the great joy she found in surprising her family with gorgeous gastronomy.
But now that I'm going through the brittle pages, one by one, scanning and preserving wonderful memories and buttery pronouncements of love and culinary aspiration, I am compelled to bake something from her prized collection immediately.
And then it appears—the recipe for the birthday cake I requested for years as a teenager, a chocolate bombe swarming with glorious cocoa and almond spirals and filled with smooth, black as ink bittersweet chocolate. In honor and memory of my wonderful mother, Helga, I give you an adapted version of "Jimmy Schmidt's London Chop House Chocolate-Almond Cake with Mousse Filling," a cake that's insanely decadent and gluten-free.
—Gesine Bullock-Prado, Confections of a (Closet) Master Baker