in memory of grandma

I have been dreading writing this post.  I have thought about what exactly I was going to write for 2 days and I still don’t know exactly what I want to say.  I think because I still haven’t had to say goodbye yet and don’t have that closure that I will experience this weekend.  It’s times like these that I am thankful for my Faith, knowing I will be reunited with my loved ones someday.  Regardless, I am still not ready to say goodbye…

In the past 2 years, I have gone from having 3 living grandparents (one of my grandmother’s passed away 6 years ago) to having none.  Unfortunately, after being put in a nursing home a few months ago, my grandma’s health began to deteriorate pretty rapidly these past few weeks and she passed away early Wednesday morning.  Although I know she is in Heaven with my grandpa and God, it is still hard to have to say that final earthly goodbye.

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I think the hardest thing for me is knowing that my daughter will never get to know the grandparents I loved so much.  I visited my grandma fairly often, reminding her about the little girl we would be having in October.  I was hoping and praying that Grandma would live to see her first great-grandchild born, but unfortunately, God had other plans for her.  I am so glad she was able to see the ultrasound pictures and my growing belly just a week ago, but I am still disappointed that she was never able to meet my daughter.

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My grandma was probably one of the nicest people on the planet – I promise, I’m not the only person who thinks that.  She never had a bad thing to say about anyone or anything and she lived + breathed her faith in God.  Grandma was also an excellent baker.  We used to have monthly family gatherings – all 26 of us (my mom is the oldest of 5) – and my grandma would always be in charge of making some sort of dessert.  She would always have cookies, that was a given.  But, whoever’s birthday it was (there was always a birthday with 26 of us in the family) got to request a special dessert to be made.  Usually my grandma was in charge of making it, but not always.  However, the most requested dessert was her fabulous Mint Cake.

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GRANDMA’S MINT CAKE
This is definitely a crowd pleaser – and serves a crowd!  It is definitely the family favorite dessert.  If you have leftovers, cut into squares, wrap in plastic wrap, and freeze.  This cake is actually much better when eaten frozen.

CAKE LAYER:

1 cup butter (2 sticks)
1 cup water
4 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 cups sugar
2 cups flour (I used all-purpose, but whole wheat would work fine too)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 flax eggs (2 tablespoons flax + 4 tablespoons water) or 2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt or sour cream

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and spray a 12×17 jelly roll pan with cooking spray and set aside.

Mix the butter, water, and cocoa powder in a medium sauce pan and bring to a boil.  Remove from heat and allow to cool for several minutes.  Meanwhile, mix the sugar, flour, salt, baking soda, flax eggs, vanilla, and yogurt in a separate bowl.  Add the cocoa mixture.  Bake for 20 minutes, then allow the cake to cool for at least 30 minutes.

MINT LAYER:

2 cups powdered sugar
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons non-dairy or cow’s milk
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
1 teaspoon green food coloring

Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl.  Beat well.  You may need to scrape down the sides of the bowl if you are using a stand mixer.  Spread an even layer over the cooled cake, getting as close to the sides as possible.  (I recommend using a knife for this.  I tried a spatula and it took a huge chunk out of the cake!  Don’t worry, though – there is another layer that will cover up any flaws.)  Chill until firm, at least 1 hour.

CHOCOLATE LAYER:

1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
8 ounces (1 1/3 cups) chocolate chips

Combine the butter and chocolate chips in a bowl.  Melt in microwave (start with 1 minutes, remove + stir; then place back in the microwave for 30 seconds, remove + stir; repeat in 30 second increments until entirely melted).  Spread chocolate layer on top of the mint layer.  Refrigerate until chocolate is hard.

*Note:  The recipe originally called for oleo instead of butter.  Oleo is basically margarine and extremely bad for you!  Sorry, Grandma, I just couldn’t even think about using it!  Butter is not much better for you, but oleo is essentially a trans fat and I avoid that at all cost!

**If you want to make this recipe vegan, substitute Earth Balance for butter (that’s A LOT of EB), Tofutti sour cream for the yogurt/sour cream, and use the flax eggs + non-dairy milk instead of eggs + cow’s milk.  And don’t forget to look at your chocolate chips to make sure their are no dairy products in them.  (Dark chocolate chips are usually the way to go for vegan chocolate chips.)

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A funny story about this recipe:  Before putting my grandma in a nursing home, her memory had already started going.  This cake was requested for someone’s birthday, and when we went to cut it, we thought the cake layer looked a bit funny.  Turns out, she used her German chocolate cake recipe instead of this chocolate cake recipe!  The German chocolate cake was also a little strange that day too…

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As I made this cake to take with me to the visitation tonight, I tried to feel like my grandma would making treats for her kids + grandkids – putting love into every ounce of the recipe.

I miss your goodies, Grandma, but I will miss your hugs + kisses even more…

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  • Ananda Baron

    Kristen,

    Sorry to hear about your grandma. My prayers for your family.
    Love,
    Ananda

    • Kristen

      Thanks Ananda

  • I’m so sorry for your loss! I’ll be praying for your fam!

    • Kristen

      Thanks Natalie

  • I’m so sorry to hear about your loss, Kristen. Grapndparents are truly amazing people and it sounds like your grandmother was one of the best! My prayers are with you and your family during this time. I know that you’ll pass on some of your grandmother’s wonderful traits to your daughter and she’ll live on through you.

    • Kristen

      Thanks Abby

  • Mom

    Kristen, thank you for that fine tribute to the best mother in the whole world! Her faith and family were the most important things to her – she loved God, her children, and her grandchildren more than life itself. She had the opportunity to touch many children’s lives as a teacher for over 30 years. She has always been a wonderful role model, and is the kindest, most wonderful, and caring person I have ever known. She lovingly raised 5 children — I remember as a kid getting so tired of hearing my friends and everyone say how wonderful she was — but secretly, I was so proud that everyone loved my Mom. I have always strived to be as good a person, mother, and friend that she was, but I know I could never come close to being the wonderful lady she was. I love you so much, Mom, and miss you already!

    • Kristen

      I don’t know, Mom… you’re pretty wonderful yourself! I love you!

  • Karen S.

    Sorry to hear about your grandma. Let me know if you need anything.

  • Mary Kratochvil

    Kristen, What a beautiful tribute to your grandmother. I agree with you that she was a very lovely lady. I wish I could have been around her more often, and known her better, but I think she is is still with you through your mother who is also a very wonderful person. Love you Kristen and Linda.