Iva (AKA Grandma Iva), Glenna (AKA Aunt Genny) and Florence (AKA Aunt Sis) were sisters. They were integral and formative parts of my childhood years.
Born in a time when June Cleaver was the role model for a housewife, these women echoed that picture, but they were far from being prudes.
They weren't afraid to share their opinions with anyone, especially if worked up about something.
As my great-uncle would often say about the trio, "Those three saucy women can be a handful, to say the least."
Although they were usually very respectful and loving individuals, when these women got "riled up" they yielded the English language with the skill of an assassin using a knife.
"They can cut you so quick, you don't know you're bleeding till after they have walked off," he would say after a one-sided altercation with one of the razor-tongued demons.
Now if they got "really honked off" about something, they weren't afraid to cut loose with a tirade of off-color words that could make a drunken sailor blush!
"We're entering into the danger zone when she starts spouting like that," my grandfather said one evening after my grandmother "lost" her cool and told him to take a "warm vacation" in a very low place.
It wasn't called "cussing" in my family, you had a "saucy mouth" if you let loose with a dangerous word.
"The English language is a poor enough means of communication," Grandma Iva would explain after spouting a few acidic words in anger. "And if you plan on communicating with someone, you have to use the words they understand."
Now when my grandmother got riled up, she baked. If she got honked off, she didn't just bake, she created some of the most unusual concoctions you'd imagine.
It was during one of those creative moments, she made a terrific discovery.
Black pepper, chocolate and Jack Daniels bourbon actually taste good when mixed together.
It seems that my grandmother was reaching into the cabinet for a spice with a drink in her hand when my grandfather decided to launch another volley from the living room in the two-hour "disagreement" they had been having. She accidentally picked up the pepper instead of what she intended to grab and added it to her chocolate cake recipe. Then, while trying to get the pepper out, her drink also got spilled in the bowl.
Flustered, to say the least, she decided to just go ahead and make the cake anyway.
The result was Black Pepper Jack Cake.
I hope that you will give it a try.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and prep your cake pan. I prefer to use a Bundt cake pan and then drizzle the icing on the top, you can use whatever pan/pans you want.
In a large bowl sift the following ingredients:
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
4 tablespoons cocoa
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
In a medium bowl whisk the following:
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup strong coffee
1/4 cup bourbon (Jack Daniels is a family tradition, but any will work)
1/2 stick butter, softened
1 tablespoon white vinegar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Pour the egg mixture into the dry mixture and stir until well blended.
Clean the medium bowl and then cream the following ingredients:
2 packages cream cheese softened
1 bag semisweet chocolate chips, melted
Beat cream cheese mixture into batter, then pour batter into pans and put in oven. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 minutes; remove from pans and cool completely on a wire rack
While that cools, make the frosting.
Combine 6 cups confectioners' sugar and 1/3 cup cocoa in a large bowl.
Then add 1 1/4 cups softened butter, 1/4 cup of softened cream cheese, 2 tablespoons buttermilk, 2 tablespoons vanilla extract, 1 tablespoon almond extract and 1 tablespoon of bourbon and beat until creamy smooth.
Ice the cooled cake and then sprinkle lightly with black pepper and a touch of cinnamon on top. You can use finely chopped nuts on top as well.
NOTE: If you use a Bundt cake pan like I mentioned earlier you could put the frosting inside a plastic sandwich bag with a zipper seal, cut a very small piece of the corner off and drizzle the icing in circles around the top of the cake.
I also like to make a little bit of white icing to drizzle over the top of the chocolate icing for a more dramatic look to the cake before adding the pepper, cinnamon and nuts.