A Bittersweet Ending; Plus Coca-Cola Cake Recipe

The cake was sweet, but the occasion—a daughter cooking for her failing father—was not

by Jan Barker
coca cola cake recipe image
Coca-Cola Cake: Seriously sweet and easy to make, this dessert is a family legacy that links the generations.
Photograph: Christopher Testani

I feel as if I’ve been socked in the heart. It is then that I realize my father has finally met a challenge he can’t overcome, and no Coca-Cola cake or determined daughter is going to change that. I put the cake away, then climb into his bed with a book so every time he opens his eyes he’ll see that I’m there.

Grandma’s Coca-Cola Cake
Makes 20 servings

2 cups all-purpose flour
9 tablespoons cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1½ cups (3 sticks) butter, softened
1¾ cups sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
½ cup buttermilk
1 and 1/3 cups Coca-Cola
1 (16 ounce) box confectioner’s sugar, sifted
1 cup toasted chopped pecans
1½ cups miniature marshmallows

1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Lightly grease a 13-by-9-by-2-inch baking pan; set aside. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, 4 tablespoons of the cocoa and the baking soda; set aside.

2. Place 1 cup of the butter in a large bowl. Add the sugar, and beat with an electric mixer until creamy. Beat in the eggs and 1 teaspoon of the vanilla until well blended. In a small bowl, combine the buttermilk and 1 cup of the cola. Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture alternately with the cola mixture, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients; blend well with each addition. Turn batter into prepared pan.

3. Bake about 35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. While cake is baking, make the icing: In a large bowl, combine the remaining 5 tablespoons cocoa, ½ cup butter, 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1/3 cup cola with the confectioner’s sugar. Beat with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy. Stir in the pecans.

4. While cake is hot, top with the marshmallows. If they don’t melt, put the cake back in the oven for a minute until they do. Spread frosting over the marshmallows while the cake is still warm (it will be runny at this point but will firm up when the cake has cooled).

Next: Spending to Piss Off My Father
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